Sharing stories allows us to not feel alone, its a great vehicle to normalise our realities. Here are some stories that you may relate to around pregnancy, birth and beyond or you might just enjoy reading other peoples journeys
I travelled and lived overseas, ran my own business, spent a lot of time out and about, live music, dinners, late nights, lived in a sharehouse - basically a lot of the same stuff I'd been doing since my 20s!
Before I actually decidedto have a child, my main concern was that I wouldn't been able to travel andlive overseas again. I felt like it would mean the end of what had been areally important part of my life and I was worried that I'd be miserablestaying in one place for so long. I understood what a commitment it was, andhad seen how much was involved - through friends who had had kids - and I justdidn't trust that I had that level of selflessness. The great thing though, wasthat I always felt my partner would be capable and supportive...and a great dad- and so I wasn't worried about our relationship - except if it all just mademe into a crazy woman.
The first year was anexhausting blur - so much to learn, every day! But also came with some greatnew experiences, and friends, and a sense of achievement just getting throughanother day. It wasn't as inhibiting, overall, as I'd expected. It was hardadjusting to so much time at home, alone with a baby, missing friends, work anda social life. It also became a lot harder than I thought it would, to managemy emotional welfare while chronically tired - and rationalise the smallfailures without a sense of guilt and regret really getting to me.
While both sets of grandparents live in other states, we were lucky that they travelled to be with us for short periods throughout the year. They helped babysit the odd night here and there so we could have some kid-free time, and helped generally around the house while in town. Many of my friends already had children so they could help with advice, but were mostly too busy to help with any hands-on stuff. The most constant support I had, was from the friends I made through mum's group - and the weekly catch ups and walks really helped with the isolation and cabin fever.
I would say to paceyourself with all the information you're likely to get offered to you andavailable online - it can get overwhelming and confusing. Find a few trustedsources, and listen to your intuition. Do the things you love, travel, go out,spend time with friends and your partner - so that you can feel you're ready tolet them go (not your partner!) for a while, and then also, try to explore whatthings you might enjoy in the solo time you are likely to have more of at home(aside from being busy with bub - there's a lot of time you just can't leavethe house) - buy some good books, download podcasts, get foxtel or netflix, getback into art, playing music or knitting, ...things you didn't have time forwhen your life was busy out in the world. Consider your options in making yourload easier in the 'tough times' - a house cleaner, supermarket deliveryservices, food delivery, occasional care centres or night-nannies, sleep school- research them and do what you need to register or set them up so that they'reready to go - sometimes doing that at the time when you actually really needthem, can seem like too much and you never get around to it. Be easy onyourself - don't commit to too much - and give yourself permission to cancel onpeople and things when you need to.
My life before children was busy and in hindsight, relatively carefree. My husband and I spent our weekends in pubs, clubs or festivals and we spent our disposable income on travelling. I worked as a full time Global Training Operations Manager in an Enterprise Architecture firm and I loved being part of the corporate world and climbing the corporate ladder. Once we bought a house we began to settle down and started to think about starting our little family.
I didn't have too many pre-conceived ideas about motherhood. I was not overly maternal and it wasn't something I was rushing to do. I was constantly told that having children would be "life changing" but I didn't fully comprehend what that meant. I must admit that I didn't really take into account that starting a family may have an impact on my relationship. I felt like we were in it together and we would muddle our way through it.I had two very conflicting images of motherhood though.... I imagined on one hand that I would be some kind of powerhouse Mum in my expensive suit and stiletto's having everything organised and under control as I headed off to work.....and on the other hand.....I had the image of my own Mum being there for us, taking us to the park and the Zoo. Sitting down and playing games, play-doh and cooking with us. Dropping us off to school and picking us up and after I gave birth i think this side of me started to win over the other.
Since I didn't have any expectations of what being a mother was going to be like, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I am not one to sleep much any way so the first few months were relatively easy besides the issues I had with breast feeding. Once our daughter had made it through the ups and downs of the developmental stages, I think we came out relatively unscathed for the first year. The one thing I did not count on was how lonely it can be to be on maternity leave. Even though I had a great bunch of girlfriends with little bubs, the day to day routine and sleepless nights made it to be quite a lonely existence, even with my husband there.
I had a c-section and was lucky enough to have my mother-in-law come to stay from NZ for 2 weeks approximately a week after I gave birth. I also am very close with my Aunty and she was a great support to me and would visit and call as often as she could but mainly my husband and I managed on our own.
I would just say to them that it's tough but it is worth it. Don't have too many expectations of what you think should happen. Parenthood throws one curve-ball after another at you and you have to learn to laugh and roll with the punches. Live by the quote "This too shall pass" because it does.... very quickly.
Our life before children was carefree, selfish, easy and boring. We lived in a flat in St Kilda and both worked at jobs that allowed us plenty of expendable income and time to play. We were relaxed, well rested, had time and energy to think of health and activity, travel and fun, getting out and about and doing whatever we pleased, which usually involved friends and alcohol. But this became tiresome. And there were only so many parties to attend and our lives began to feel unfulfilled.
My only expectations around family were that it would alter my life entirely. I was prepared for it being hard and all consuming. I was never enthusiastic about parenting and was worried, all during my pregnancy, that I would hate who I would become and what my life would be. I hysterically cried when early packages arrived from my Mother and friends that were filled with tiny baby things like Wiggles DVDs and duck booties.
I convinced myself (rather, Martin convinced me) in those moments that my ideas of motherhood didn't need to proscribe to any commonly or historically held notions and I could do it in whatever way that made sense for me and our family. I continue to hold onto this idea for dear life.
I wasn't sure of what impact I thought it would have on my relationship. I probably didn't give this much thought. In some ways it brought us closer - we both knew and loved this tiny human so intimately and preciously. Nobody else could possibly understand. But in an instant, we almost became secondary to one another. It has been a struggle to keep focused on each other in the chaos of family.
I just fell in love with motherhood at the start. I couldn't believe how much it changed me and how much bigger my life was. I couldn't believe how much I loved this tiny human and how all of the fears I had of his affect on my world were insignificant to how much I loved him and What I wasn't prepared for was how much I would love it. needed him in my life.
I also wasn't prepared for how hard and awful it could be. I wasn't prepared for how emotionally exhausting every moment of the experience would be. It has pushed me and my husband to the brink of sanity. It has challenged my ideas of self (not someone I'm often proud of) and what I want for myself (to be better. And more.).
That first year of parenthood was intense. It's hard to explain it otherwise. We were in a baby bubble that we couldn't see out of. I now look at new mums & dads and wish I could bestow on them the knowledge of insignificance of all of the millions of things you think are so critical to your and your baby's world in that year. When in reality, everyone just needs to relax a bit. Teething necklaces, dietary intolerances, cloth nappies (Yes, I did - from birth to 2 years), sleep training, BLW, Nipple thrush, cot bumpers and maternal health nurses - just ugh. I'm quite sure that we could have existed much happier and healthier on a deserted island somewhere.
The first year of my second child was much more comfortable. Much more relaxed and happier. Though we didn't stare at her as much. I'm sorry that we were so busy and just dragged her around. But I do have memories of holding her and realising how brief and beautiful the moments were.
We had little support. Our family is all overseas so it was just Martin and I. We both had wonderful public sector roles where we received good family leave and were able to spend quality time with our baby. But didn't have breaks. Or physical support.
But I was a voracious reader and sought advice and information from every book in the world on birth and sleep theory, in particular. I read articles and academic research on anything that came our way that I wasn't sure of. I engaged with social media mother's pages that provided information and a shared experience that was at times comforting and at others, confronting. The different, strongly held beliefs of right and wrong could be frustrating. We sought support for breastfeeding issues through breastfeeding clinics at public hospitals and eventually a specialist doctor. I found support in my son's Mother's Group, organised through Council.
Before: Travel and be adventurous. Once you have kids you'll want to holiday and sit on a beach for years. Get your trekking and European adventure travel done pre-children.
Post kids - be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. Take every opportunity to sleep and practice self care and joy. If you aren't well and happy, nobody will be.
And don't worry about the 'rules'. They're bullshit. Love your baby. Do your best and whatever works for your family.
Your job is not about making them into what you think they should be. Or what society says. But is about figuring out WHO THEY ARE. And how you can help them be happy in the world as they are.
Pretty adventurous. Lots of travelling. Living in other countries. Lots of fun. I had a very active social life both inside and outside of work. I always maintained a full time nursing job but felt like I had lots of time to do the things that I wanted to do. I was pretty active too, regularly exercising for enjoyment.
I don't know that I had huge expectations really. I was never enormously maternal/clucky prior to having children so don't know that I'd really thought about it that much. I think I thought that it would feel more natural than it did in reality (especially in the early days)
I struggled with the lack of control over the environment in the first year. In fact, I struggled with pretty much everything! Being a nurse, I'm very task-focused and like to 'tick things off' before moving on. Unfortunately a new baby doesn't fit in with this. I remember feeling that my freedom had been taken away and that I'd never be able to do the things I enjoyed again. I felt pretty overwhelmed by the enormous, ongoing responsibility of a small baby. I also felt like I'd lost my sense of self for a long time. Having zero libido too was difficult as that was something that had been pretty active before kids. I remember feeling love for Max but didn't instantly bond with him like I've heard other people report.
I had some great friends who were supportive and a fantastic mothers group who we were all super honest with each other. My parents were an awesome support too. Craig was a great support also and really thrived in the role of being a Dad.
It's okay if you don't love it as much as you thought you would. Some people take time to adjust to the role of parenting and that doesn't make you a failure. Make sure as the woman to take time for yourself. You are just as important as the baby. Let people help. Don't be afraid to talk about how you feel with supportive friends.
Time, I had so much time! Although I felt like I didn’t. We enjoyed a lot of freedom a double income and no children afforded. I was working very hard in my career, which included study that was a lot of my focus.
I was very lucky to have friends around me who were very real about motherhood, but I still wasn’t prepared. I think I had romanticized it somewhat. And I somehow thought the struggle wouldn’t happen to me. Although there was so much love and joy, being on my own for long days on maternity was hard.
As for our relationship I had totally underestimated the toll raising two babies would mean for our relationship, we made the mistake of not making much time for ourselves, let alone our relationship.
When my husband went back to work after having the babies, I finally appreciated the saying ‘it takes a village’ to raise children. But for lots of reasons, like my siblings also having children at the same time, and my friends were in the trenches raising their children; I struggled to find my village.
But the love I felt for my babies was like nothing else I’d ever experienced, and what they were teaching me about myself was amazing!
So my first year of parenting was rough, premmie babies on my own for much of the time, the baby blues turned into PND for me, and I still wonder if I’d got in more support in the beginning, would it still have been as rough?
I had a little help from my mum, and I always sort out great support for my babies. I had great pediatricians, I had great sleep consultant who worked with me through two phases with the kids. But on hindsight, should have got more for myself!
Later down the track when things were tough, we got meal delivery service (Marley spoon) so we could eat healthier easier, and a cleaner. Then we went to counseling.
I now support families who have a multiple pregnancy (twins or more) mainly because I want people to have more information about the variety of supports out there. I tell them that I would have had a lot More support in the beginning, a doula, and a nanny. I would have taken up counseling sooner as well. So I tell people to research all the different supports out there, from meals to cleaners, counseling, child care options.