Was first time motherhood how you imagined it would be?
“Youth is wasted on the young” sang good old Robbie Williams in one of his hits. I can’t for the life of me remember which one, because I have baby brain times three, and haven’t slept for more than a few hours in a row since I couldn’t even tell you when. My days merge into weeks and it’s all feeling pretty hazy right about now.
I spent most of my first maternity leave in the cliched way that probably gives us women a bad name. Lunching with friends, sitting around coffee shops and crying into my cappuccino about how tired I was. I loved being a mum, and was so ready for it, but looking back it feels like I frittered that precious time away. I hated our old flat and we were always out – doing stuff, going places, meeting people. We now know that P is autistic, and the poor thing must have been so over stimulated. No wonder she was such a demanding baby.
Second time around it was a very different story
During my second pregnancy just after P had turned two, she stopped napping and started waking up in the night. Lots. It was a tough second and third trimester. I went to work one day on a couple of hours sleep and begged my boss to let me start mat leave early. Thankfully giving birth second time around was much easier than the first, and I settled into being a mum of two quite smoothly.
It was a magical time, that I look back upon so fondly. I felt comfortable in my own abilities as a mum by that point, and C was a super chilled out baby. The fact that she slept through the night at 10 weeks old with no sleep training was the cherry on the cake.
It was difficult to enjoy every moment of those days at the time though, because P was so jealous of C right from the off, and it got worse as the months wore on, not better as everyone said it would. It was emotionally draining beyond words. Although P was potty trained at 2y3m, she regressed massively and would wet herself up to four times a day. I couldn’t trust her with the baby at all, and she would have huge meltdowns over things that her little buddies had long been accepting.
I guess the worst of her autistic traits were staring me in the face, but I didn’t it know back then. I just knew that she didn’t sleep, and was a very challenging three year old. I can hardly bring myself to admit this, but I found myself wishing that both girls were like C. By the end of mat leave my thoughts had got seriously dark, and I felt myself falling into a depressed state for the first time in years. Not long after that I started writing this blog as therapy, which I’m pleased to say worked wonders.
I think about those days with a sadness that makes my soul ache. Who knew motherhood could be so bloody tough?
As you can imagine, in the midst of all that, there was not much bedroom fun going on, but clearly our happy little accident was meant to be. There was nothing enjoyable about his pregnancy, but thankfully it flew by at lightning speed, and before I knew it I was packing up work for a third time.
F was born au naturel just a few hours after my contractions started. It meant that the IV antibiotics I had for Group B Strep during labour didn’t get to him in time, and he had to have them himself for the first 48 hours of his life. This meant we were in hospital for three days, and it’s the most rest I have had since I embarked on motherhood back in July 2009.
First time around I couldn’t wait to leave the hospital, a day after giving birth. Second time I luxuriated in the private room I’d managed to bag, but was still mildly annoyed that they kept me in an extra night because I’d missed the cut off for being discharged. Third time? I could have merrily stayed all week!
I had no idea what it was going to be like
I was so ready for my eldest when she came along. I was so ready to be a mum, and couldn’t wait to have all the adventures my mummy friends were having (or supposedly having, I know now that they were only sharing the best bits). I knew I would be ahead of the game in so many ways too, because of having lived such a vivacious, colourful life before having my kids. In those days I naively thought that motherhood was like work – put in the hard graft and reap the rewards.
I never once in my wildest imagination thought I would have days that would send me to the brink of my sanity.
I never thought I would hide in the toilet for the only five minutes peace I would get that whole day.
I never thought that a small child could reduce me to tears in the middle of the night because they wouldn’t go back to sleep.
I never thought I would question my relationship with my husband, and have days where I hated him for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I’ve had many conversations recently with other mums about how wonderful those early days are with baby number one. Whether they’ve got more children now, or that first one is older, the conclusion is the same. First time motherhood is wasted on first time mums, because we over complicate everything. We think it’s all so hard, but actually it gets much much harder along the way.
If I could have my stint at first time motherhood again, I would definitely sleep when P did!