During my pregnancy, so many people told me...
“get ready for no sleep”
“for being so tired you cannot function”
“for a crying baby and hourly feeds”
“The fourth trimester”
And funnily enough, none of these things I felt during my first 8 weeks home with my newborn. Sure I was tired, he cried of course at times and we definitely had a few sleepless nights in there but we were blessed with (for the most part) a champion sleeper who loooooves his food and was extremely chilled.
My husband and I had 3 weeks at home with our newborn together which was amazing, over the Christmas period as well so there were always people around. I wasn’t short of help and I realized I probably would have starved to death if my husband wasn’t home feeding me while I was trapped under a baby those first few weeks.
From 3/4 weeks Henry was only waking once in the night and going down from 8pm, waking around 1-2am for a feed then back down till 6.30am. We developed this routine quickly where I woke up at 5.30am (before the baby) pumped, fed myself a big bowl of oats, banana and yogurt (as feeding yourself with a newborn is a challenge), had a shower and sorted myself out to then be passed a hungry baby at 7am by my husband as he walked out the door for work. A whole hour and a half to myself. This part of parenthood we were nailing, this part I felt we had under control and were both reasonably rested.
There is another part of new parenthood however I had no idea about... The part no one ever really talks about and isn’t as obvious as the sleep deprivation. It’s the sudden change from you just being you. The feeling of losing your independence and being at home doing what I thought, was doing nothing. The part where you go from doing anything and everything you want, when you want; to not doing anything unless you want to take half your house plus 320 other things with you, it is baby appropriate without germs and too much sun.
I’m what you’d call a workaholic, a very serious workaholic. I love work, to the point I’ve had to be told to stop at times by my colleagues, husband and family. So to go from being involved in every little spec of work to sitting at home, at times in silence in front of day time TV - that for me was the reality I never saw coming. That was what I struggled with and that's what made me feel guilty. I missed the fast-paced and intense pressure of work.
The feeling of losing your independence and the reality of those first few months at home with a newborn are something we should talk about more because the truth is you are not doing nothing, you are doing the most important job of all but it took me a little while to realize.
You are teaching your new baby everything he needs to know, you are teaching him to feel secure, loved, safe and how to navigate this big world he knows nothing about. You are everything to him and even though it may feel like you've done nothing today and tomorrow is just a repeat of yesterday, your baby has learnt so much from you. By you just being there, making sure he is fed, warm, happy. He is learning from you every second and that’s what you are doing - once I started to tell myself this my whole view changed and I stopped thinking about how I was just sitting here staring into space waiting for Henry to wake up for his next feed or nappy change and how special this time is for us both.
I was learning to become a mother and when I return to work, I will now have two jobs.
We are all different and we all get such different experiences when it comes to what parenthood is. But if you are one of the ones feeling like you are trapped and have lost yourself - just remember you are still working! (The workaholic in me likes to hear that) but for the next few months your job is to teach your little human and enjoy every minute because 8 weeks has already gone - poof, just like that.
I’ll always be a mum who works, my career and feeling independent is just part of who I am but for the next little while my new role is making sure Henry grows into a grounded, confident and smart little boy and man so that’s my role.
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