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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Let's Get Real: The Truth About Motherhood

Ok, I think it's time to take the road less traveled and talk a little about the craziness that can come with new motherhood. We all heard the warnings, 'Your life will never be the same', 'say goodbye to sleep', say goodbye to sex', etc, etc. I think the honest truth is, no matter  what you heard, and how many times, there really is nothing that can prepare you for this experience. I'll never forget driving home from work with my Dad before I went on mat leave and having him tell me: "Honey, having a baby is like being hit by a 2 by 4; you won't know what hit you". I think my Dad hit the nail on the head and then some.

I am so happy to be a Mom, I can't wait for all the crazy and fun and memories to come. But I will fess up and say I was truly overwhelmed when our young lady came along. I went into labour at 12:45 in the morning, and was in labour for 23 hours- so I got a great preview of the lack of sleep before Ari even made her debut! By the time the 3 of us came home from the hospital, my husband and I had maybe 3 hours of sleep; and we definitely didn't get a whole lot more those first few nights. Safe to say pregnancy brain turned into Mommy brain squared. I couldn't tell you what day it was, the time of day, or how old I was in that first week! I was in a total fog. 

Maybe you got pregnant without planning to, or struggled to get pregnant; maybe your pregnancy was difficult or you suffered bad morning sickness; maybe your labour and delivery didn't go the way you thought; and/ or maybe the baby you got and how you feel about Motherhood isn't what you expected. There is never any way of knowing what we are in for. I think the greatest hurdle for new parents- especially Mothers- is that there is no grace period. There is no easing into it. One day you're pregnant, the next (or few later!) you're a Mom. Period. No givsies backsies, no 'hold on, wait I'm not ready!'. Nada. Some embrace this instant change, others struggle, and many of us fall somewhere in the middle.

In the first few weeks following Ari's birth, I did a lot of soul searching. I was in love with this beautiful  creature that I had been blessed with, but totally stunned by how upside down I felt. And I will say that the lack of sleep probably compounded this. There were tears and hugs with my husband and parents where I needed reassuring that this new life would settle down. This was especially needed in the first few weeks when Ari was fussy in the evenings (see this post for how I found the silver lining).  I remember asking Will when Ari was maybe 3 or 4 weeks old if he thought parents ever feel like they get a grasp on things, or if it's a constant evolution. He went with the latter, and I have to agree. Looking back even now, I can see how much has changed in such a short period of time. 

I don't think I had the baby blues or post pardem depression, but I will openly admit that I struggled to regain balance on my new Motherhood legs. One of my best friends had her baby 2 days before me, and I revelled in how naturally she seemed to fall into motherhood. I still appreciate how she takes everything all in stride, and feel like I have started to do so as well.

One of the saving graces was joining a local Mommy group- you've heard me talk about it on this blog. I cannot say how much being surrounded by other new Moms has helped me. The babies range from brand spanking new to 6 months, and it's beyond refreshing to see these women and their bumpkins every week to swap stories and share in the joys and challenges. If you are a new Mom or are currently pregnant, I cannot recommend joining one of these groups enough. Even if you think you have a strong handle on motherhood, you never know when you're going to get thrown a curve ball and need some reassuring. For this glimpse of sanity (or whatever it is!), I have to thank my sister in law for suggesting that I get out of the house and check it out.

I hope that all new Moms, no matter how calm or overwhelmed they are by their new role, remember the person they were before motherhood. We are Mothers, but we are still ourselves, albeit new versions. I embrace this new phase in my life, but like all the important things in life, appreciate the work and challenges that make it what it is. 

The best things in life aren't free, they take hard work, but that's what make us appreciate them. When you look back at life, you'll have the memories to tell the unique story that is yours. Enjoy writing it.

oxox