Although I sometimes mention motherhood on my blog, I haven’t discussed it in much detail. My boy turned 1 in May and since my his birthday I’ve been thinking about how this first year has been.
I put off having a baby for a years, primarily because my Dad was dying and I didn’t have space to deal with anything else. My husband, who has always wanted children, waited patiently while I waded through the turmoil of losing a beloved parent. It took a couple of years after Dad passed away before I felt ready. Although we’d been married for seven years and I was in a good place to have a child, anxieties continued to swirl around my mind. How would I carry on with work? How would pregnancy effect my mental health? Would I be able to manage the sleepless nights? Would pregnancy weight gain trigger my eating disorder? I had burning questions that no one could answer. I lay awake at night, not knowing what to do and becoming increasingly frightened. But I knew that I wanted a family so there was nothing for it but to take a leap of faith.
I assumed that we would be trying for a while, but I got pregnant quickly. There must have been a dramatic shift in my hormones, because my worries about life with a baby rapidly decreased and I found that I was calm. There is nothing particularly note worthy to add about my pregnancy, apart from a relentless craving for pineapples and itchy, crawling skin in the last few months. My husband would rub my back with a hair brush while I lay on my side and grunted like a grateful walrus.
After our son was born I suffered from postnatal depression. It wasn’t quite as bad as I had feared and I guess the fact that I was expecting it made it a little easier to manage. However, this did not detracted from the darkness and guilt. The most shameful part was the feeling of regret, not that my son was alive, but that my life would never be the same. I thought that I made the wrong choice, that I was not fit to be a mother and I was going to fail. The profound exhaustion, the never ending nappies and difficult breastfeeding did not help. This had no baring on how I felt about my child, whom I adored more than I can ever express. My love for that tiny creature was overwhelming, but the sadness and regret hung around me like a bad smell. When the depression lifted, the regret did too and I now realise that was a symptom of an illness, rather than a legitimate feeling.
Stories like this used to turn me off having children because it all just seemed so awful. I wondered why anyone would sign up to be a parent when the role appeared to be so hard. The truth is that being a parent is challenging, especially in those exhausting, overwhelming first few months. But it does get easier and before you know it, they’re walking and talking and you’re look back on the photos of them as newborns with wistful longing.
Having my son the best choice I have ever made. I’m am happier, calmer and more determined to make a success of my life because I want him to be proud of his mum. I’ve found that I have to carve out time for me to work because if I don’t, my mental health suffers and if I fall apart, I will be no use to my child. He brings me joy every day; the smile on his face when I lift him from his cot in the morning, the way he wraps his chubby little hand around mine and laughs his throaty chuckle when I pull a funny face. There is a lot of my Dad in our baby, his expressions and the mischievous twinkle in his eye, he even has a stocky quality that is very familiar. Sometimes it’s like Dad’s eyes are gazing out from a beautiful child’s face, I know that he would have be delighted with our boy.
I hope this is helpful for anyone considering having children, but like me, you are worried about how you will cope. If you decide that parenthood is not for you, that is a completely legitimate decision and don’t let societal pressure change your mind. However, if you choose to go ahead and have a baby, rest assured that you will make your life work and overcome the challenges synonymous with raising children. Having a baby is the most exhausting, arduous, joyous and meaningful thing you can ever do. I’m grateful every day that this gorgeous, sparky little person is in our lives.