New motherhood is a unique and transformational time in a woman’s life. Life as you know it has changed forever and in addition to working out how to care for a tiny human, you’re also working out who you are now that you are also “mum”.
Inspired by Jamila Rizvi’s new book, The Motherhood, we thought we’d have our own go at writing to our past selves sharing what we wish we’d known about new motherhood.
Last week, Jo shared what she wishes she’d known – from reflux and sleep to returning to work and asking for help. This week, Lucy’s shares a very different take – she doesn’t wish to have known more about her baby, but about herself and who she would become.
Want to join in the fun? We have two copies of Rizvi’s The Motherhood to give away. For a chance to win, all you need to do is find us on Instagram or Facebook and tell us one thing that you wish you could tell your former self about life as a new mum. Easy!
“I have a baby girl!” Yes, you do. You said those words over and over for about 5 minutes after Lilly was born. All the anxiety that the last 9 months had brought along with the very quick, intense labour, culminated in what I can only describe as shock. That baby girl was now in your arms. Welcome to Motherhood.
If I can sum up what I wish I’d known about new motherhood: you will be ok. In fact, you will be better than ok.
Your pregnancy wasn’t an easy ride. You’d wanted to have children one day, but weren’t expecting pregnancy to knock on your door quite so soon. As a result, you spent the 9 months between the toilet bowl (whoever called it morning sickness is a liar! Much more like all-day-hangover-for-9-months … without the fun of the party the night before) and a state of anxiety. It wasn’t motherhood per se that you feared, you knew you’d be a great mum, and that you are. It was the bigger, existential crisis style anxiety of “who will I be”, “what will I become”.
You’ll be pleased to know that, just like a wise friend warned you time and time again, you would be just fine. Those words “I have a baby girl” had a deeper meaning. They didn’t just signal the arrival of your daughter, they also signalled the making of you.
Becoming a mum didn’t mean the loss of your identity, it helped you discover it. You discovered a hidden confidence within yourself; you discovered passions and interests that led you to help and support hundreds of other women; you discovered your voice (you do have opinions about important topics after all!); you discovered love as you’d never known it; you discovered a new depth to your marriage that you never imagined beforehand; you even discovered that mess in the form of tiny handprints isn’t quite so bad, and sometimes even makes you smile. You discovered you, and you quite like her.
Before I get too carried away (if you weren’t glass-half-full before motherhood you sure are now!), it hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns (although with a toddler who loves pink and sparkles, there are a lot of rainbows and unicorns in your life). New motherhood was lonely. A confusing kind of lonely. You were never (ever) alone, yet you were lonelier than you’ve ever been. It took some time for you to find your people, and maybe you still haven’t quite found them, but you will. Speak your truth – there are so many other women out there doing the family / career juggle. They get it. Find them.
My last piece of advice, and my favourite mantra: “everything is a phase”. You’ll remind yourself of this second one often, both during the good and not-so-good phases. The difficult stuff will pass, it’s just a matter of time; but so will the little moments of joy that make your heart melt each day. Both will be replaced with new ones, of course. A time will come when your tiny baby will no longer only sleep when cuddled on you; when she no longer starts the morning with “One night at supper, Pig shouted with glee!” (You have no idea what I’m on about, but oh, you will! Who knew a child could want to read a book about a pug named Pig So. Many. Times.); when she wants to choose her own clothes, thank-you-very-much and when she finally lets her dad help her get to sleep at bed time (we’re still waiting for that one. Remember, it’s a phase! Just a long one.).
Until next time (I hope),