Is First Time Motherhood Wasted on First Time Mums?

first time motherhood

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.

first time motherhoodSecond 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.

first time motherhood

Dark days

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!

first time motherhoodI 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 never thought I’d willingly give up my career in the city, and become a home educating stay at home mum.

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! 


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44 thoughts on “Is First Time Motherhood Wasted on First Time Mums?

  1. Arnold + True Lies 2 = BIG MONEY, but not as the lead agent. Instead, in the honorable role as the new head of OMEGA Dept. formerly held by Charlton Heston. Sure add more to his role then what Charlton played, but this gives the greater picture to what we (the audience and fans) want, and can respect from Arnold in his return to the silver screen if you will.

  2. I have a brilliant photo of me snoozing on the sofa with my girls just after my second was born. She’d fallen asleep after feeding, and my eldest had climbed up onto my other side to have a rest too. I have one arm in my cardigan, and the other arm is hanging off on the floor. I love that photo, it sums it all up just perfectly 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment Jess. I remember everyone telling me the 3 month stage was the turning point, then it was the 6 month stage, then a year… I think by then, like you’ve just said, I stopped waiting around for the elusive time that things would get easier. I accepted that it would never be easy, and that I had to take the rough with the smooth as it were xx

  4. Just found time to read this, lovely – you know how busy it is with three home for the holidays! I think motherhood is hard however many children you have, and I’ve realised that waiting for the stage where it “gets easier” is fruitless. I agree with your comment above saying the physicality of it eases as they grow up but you then realise that the emotional side is just as tough. Whether you’re getting enough sleep or not definitely contributes to how you experience motherhood. With your first, everything is a huge deal, from the first pinprick test to the first cold to the first roll-over – and I think that’s how it should be: that is the magic of parenthood, but you pay for it. Very interesting post. xx

  5. oh bless you sounds like you’ve been through it a bit. I definitely agree with my first I was so concerned with what other people thought and trying to do everything by the book i wish i just spent the days snoozing with my little bundle back when I could no chance of that now with 3! Thanks for linking up to #sundaystars

  6. I totally agree with this post. I wish I could go back and do it all again – for the first time. As a first time parent I questioned everything and didn’t really enjoy those little special moments like i should have done. Second time around I was more relaxed but I also has a two year running around demanding my attention. Thank you for linking up to #SundayStars xx


  7. Totally get what you mean here hon. First time motherhood wasn’t unpleasant or horrendous for me at all, but there are definitely things I would have tried to embrace more. Like staying out late, more pub lunches and having a few holidays. That said we were quite skint and the one holiday we did have, when P was 20 months, is a sleep deprived blur xx

  8. Thanks for your gorgeous comment my darling. Night time tears seem to be a right of passage almost! I truly believe that motherhood will be the biggest challenge we face in our lives, because there is no let up. You get through one difficult patch, or enjoyable milestone, and another is lurking in the alleyway ready for their immediate airtime afterwards 😉 On that same token however, having my family was the best thing I did with my life xxx

  9. Love that you always know which songs I’m referring to Tim! I think there are many of us that will look back at those hazy days, and think I’d do xyz differently, but at the same time not do anything differently. I’m already to keen to know what my own thoughts on this will be in a year or two 😉

  10. Thanks hon. We’re in the trenches my lovely, that’s what I keep hearing! It’s comforting in a way that I’m far from being on my own here. Sending coffee, wine and hugs your way 😉

  11. All I keep hearing from friends with older kids is that it will get easier, and with little ones as young as mine I’m ‘in the trenches’. I was out with a friend yesterday and her girls are now 5 and 8 – she says it gets physically easier but life starts getting more emotionally complicated. Autism of course adds an extra dimension too. I’m sure it’ll never be easy, there will always be challenges. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things will be better once we’re getting more sleep. Thanks for your lovely comments hon xx

  12. I think most of us will look back and think we could have done things differently, but at the same time not change a thing. Strange old game, motherhood, isn’t it!

  13. I think tough days are to be expected, and there are whole sections of time that blur into one for me. Hope things are getting a little easier for you now that you’re out of the newborn haze…

  14. Thanks so much for your comment, really pleased you enjoyed reading the post. Wow sleeping through the night at 5 weeks old, you lucky thing! Hope #2 sleeps well for you, makes all the difference x

  15. When I think back to first time motherhood, I remember it being…..quiet?! Lonely at times? So different second time around with a funny crazy little 3 yo for company. I was always tired, yet she slept through at 5 weeks!! So naive…. I constantly craved being out of the house, something I’ve grown out of second time around. I love days at home now just as much as our adventures out and about. I really enjoyed reading this post, thanks for sharing your highs and lows. A bit of honesty didn’t do any of us mums any harm eh?! X MMT #sundaystars

  16. As a first time mummy to an 11 week old, I’m already tempted to agree with you!! The first month of my little boy’s life already feels like a blur! Will try to treasure each moment more 🙂

  17. Me too hon, in fact I did adopt that attitude second time around. I guess it’s easy to look back wistfully and think things like ‘I would have travelled more’ but the reality for me was that we were skint and couldn’t have afforded to! It’s nice to have a slower pace now, and be perfectly fine with the company of just my kids 🙂

  18. I think this happens to a lot of us. I read books, had loads of friends with babies and was so ready, but it was still such a shock to the system! Enjoy your toddler days 🙂

  19. I can relate in that I thought I was prepared, but having never been around babies before having one of my own I had no idea how hard it would be. I think I wasted time in that I put a lot of pressure on myself and found it hard to ask for help when I needed it. Now I’ve realised that it’s completely normal to find motherhood a challenge, I’m beginning to stop making life harder for myself and enjoy the little moments, so hopefully I can really make the most of being a first time mum to a toddler. #TheList

  20. Would I have done anything differently? Hell yeah! am I allowed to use that language here? Dont really care. I would have done a lot differently – like just stayed at home and enjoyed my daughter. Not rushing to different play groups and saying NO to coffee dates when I was absolutely tired. Do you want to hear more?

  21. This really struck a chord with me. I felt like I had journeyed with you through the heartache and the love reading this. Motherhood is something else right? Having more than one is challenging. I’m off to read more about your daughter. My brothers (full and step) have autism. My mum was super grateful of me because all I did was sleep and eat. My brother is 35 now and still not easy. I don’t think I will get the chance to be a mum second time round as my ex and I have now split up – I too hated him for no reason some days. My PND didn’t help of course. First time mum to twins was like being chucked into a giant whirlwind with nothing to hold onto but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. #TheList @) x

  22. Oh hun I can so relate to your feelings of “losing your mind” and I cry in my bathroom all the time. Being a mommy is so challenging and doesn’t always come with a reward at the end of the day…those days require lots of wine. This is such a great post Reneé. I too wish I would have slept more in the early days.

  23. Gosh, I don’t know where to start. Looking back, I realise now how inefficient we were about everything after Isaac was born. It seems to take us less time to get organised with three kids than it ever did one. I think the sad truth is we would do pretty much everything differently – and yet, for all the terrible trouble we had with sleep patterns and such like, I’m not sure I’d want to change anything. Masochist, eh? (Heather will probably say something different, as she was the one getting up in the night breast-feeding while I slept through much of it …)

    Oh, and the lyric is from Eternity, one of my fave Robbie tracks: “Youth is wasted on the young / Before you know it’s come and gone too soon”. So true.

  24. I’ve only got the one so I don’t quite know how people with more than that do it! Respect! Looking back, I hope I’d have slowed down and enjoyed the moments more; found the nice toddler group earlier and stuff like that. But it is what it is and she seems to have survived! Lovely post

  25. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Denise. Motherhood is all down to constant evolution, and we must be prepared to change whatever is necessary to ensure our family’s happiness.

    I can relate to what you’ve said about feeling embarrassed about your past too – I look back at certain times of my life and cringe!

  26. I think for me it is more the guilt of not being able to have the one-on-one time with my three youngest, but then again my eldest was in full time nursery at 5.5 months and the others weren’t. Swings and roundabouts I guess. #TheList

  27. I think it does take us some time to realise that we can’t just carry on with our lives from before when we have children.
    I really like the way you remember so clearly the way you were, and how different you are now that the experience of motherhood has changed you. It’s worth stopping to consider. I often feel embarrassed by the person I was and find it difficult to look back, but it’s good to know that we all change, and that motherhood is a profoundly changing thing.

  28. Really interesting post darling! I’m not sure I’d say first time motherhood is wasted on us, but there’s definitely a part of me that wishes I could go back to when Elsie was a newborn and just enjoy those days again and not fret about the house or packing (we moved when Elsie was just six weeks old – bonkers!). I guess hindsight and experience is a beautiful thing.

    As a Mum to one, I have absolutely no idea how the rest of you parents with more than one child, manage it. Honestly! I think you are remarkable. Parenting is wonderful but blimey, doesn’t it take it to the edge of despair sometimes. There were many, many times I cried in the middle of the night when Elsie wouldn’t sleep. Great post my love xx

  29. Really interesting post darling! I’m not sure I’d say first time motherhood is wasted on us, but there’s definitely a part of me that wishes I could go back to when Elsie was a newborn and just enjoy those days again and not fret about the house or packing (we moved when Elsie was just six weeks old – bonkers!). I guess hindsight and experience is a beautiful thing.

    As a Mum to one, I have absolutely no idea how the rest of you parents with more than one child, manage it. Honestly! I think you are remarkable. Parenting is wonderful but blimey, doesn’t it take it to the edge of despair sometimes. There were many, many times I cried in the middle of the night when Elsie wouldn’t sleep. Great post my love xx

  30. Erm, yes!! It’s ridiculous how wasted first-time motherhood is on first-time mums. But there’s absolutely nothing you can say to those mums and make them see. It has to be learnt from experience. And what a shame that is.

    I didn’t spend Finley’s baby months in particular difficulty, per se. I enjoyed it, did manage to get some rest once I’d got his naps under some semblance of control. But I could have enjoyed it more. And I’ll never regret Fraser, but I am painfully aware that I didn’t get as much time as I’d liked to enjoying him as a young toddler – falling pregnant when he was 9 months old kinda nipped that in the bud.

    Aaaaaanyway, that’s my long-winded way of telling you I absolutely agree. Great post, hon. Nodded my head all the way through! Xx

  31. Ohh I remember the first time being blissful, although I definitely didnt realise it at the time. I thought it was the hardest thing ever, ever, ever! I’m so sorry you had such a hard time with the subsequent times but you’ve come out of it such a strong person now, i think it’s definitely made you the very supportive and amazing mum that you are now xx

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