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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The isolation of new motherhood


I spent the later weeks of my pregnancy not concerned about getting through the pain of childbirth (ha! Little did I know...) but with how I would get through the first weeks with a newborn and cope with the fundamental shift in my sense of identity I felt motherhood would bring.

Becoming a mother had been my number one goal for the past couple of years, particularly after the loss of our first pregnancy, yet I still felt a real sense of vulnerability in leaving full-time work and giving up my independence to look after a little person 24/7. And it's not relying on my husband financially which worried me, but the shifting roles and whether he could he give me the emotional support I knew I would need.

This had a lot to do with the insane work hours Marcus was keeping. He often wouldn't be home before 9.30pm which meant I was doing all the cooking, most of the cleaning and general running of the household when these had always been shared responsibilities. I had visions of this being my life from now on, plus juggling a baby, while doing so with very little contact with other adults. The 'hands on' dad I had always envisioned him to be was suddenly less certain.

It turns out that while still working less than savory hours, I needn't have worried about the 'hands on' dad part. He bathes Hugo most nights, cuddles him, sings him songs and chats to him. He also rolls over during the night to comfort me when i'm trying to settle Hugo, which makes such a difference to my sanity in the wee hours! It also goes a long way to reassuring me that we're navigating parenthood together.

I still struggle with how little I get done each day and how even eating needs to be timed with almost military precision if I want to prepare myself something remotely healthy and eat it before it goes cold or rancid. It's easy to feel pretty shit when there's dishes piled high and you're still in your pyjamas at midday. I know people say 'don't worry about housework' and 'sleep when the baby sleeps' but I feel happier and more fulfilled I my day if I've been able to maintain a level of tidiness and tick a few jobs off my list of things to do.

In this last week I feel like I've really turned a corner - there's more enjoyment and happiness in my days than there is sheer exhaustion and bewilderment. I'm more confident with Hugo and in meeting his needs, and I've found ways to get little snatches of time to myself which makes me feel more 'me' - putting on makeup, getting dressed, flipping through the weekend papers and planning little projects. I know I'll be a much better mum to Hugo if I look after myself and my needs too.

Photo taken by me the day before Hugo was born


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