You’ve dreamt since you were a little girl about having a family of your own then finally it happens, you’re pregnant! You download all the pregnancy apps that tell you how your baby is developing each week, read all the info you can on pregnancy and motherhood, attend antenatal classes, do all you can to prepare for the birth and this exciting new chapter in your life.You fantasise over what your little baby will look like. “Will they have Daddy’s eyes and my dark hair?” Wonder if it will be a boy or a girl! You start planning your future, excited about becoming the perfect little family you’ve always dreamt of. But you’re also overcome by feelings you never knew you’d have, anxiety’s you didn’t know existed. It’s an equally exciting and scary time. You’re going to be Mum. You’re going to be a MUM!
Then finally the baby is born. They’re more perfect than you ever imagined. Your whole life has changed already. Everyone tells you that having a baby will ‘change your life’, but you didn’t quite listen to what that meant, and nobody quite told you. It meant sleepless nights, learning to budget and not having what you want when you want it, being responsible and ‘on call’ 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It meant that you couldn’t just decide to go on a weekend away or night out with friends. And that’s okay, that’s the sacrifices you chose to make when you decided to become a parent. But nobody ever mentioned how becoming a Mum changes you as a person.
As a new Mum I found myself completely torn between being happy and adoring my newborn baby boy, to feeling anxious, emotional and guilty. I felt guilty for everything. We had longed for a baby for so long, tried for years and succeeded with the help of IVF. We finally had everything we dreamt of and should have been the happiest people on the planet. I felt guilty for not being in this new Mummy bubble that everyone expects of you. In fact it’s something I’ve never spoke about because I felt so guilty and ashamed. The truth is it’s a lonely and challenging time. You have very little sleep, and the sleep you do have is broken with night feeds, changing explosive nappies and some of the weirdest coloured poo’s you have ever seen in your life. Your body looks different, your hormones are all over the place, you have to be happy all the time because you’ve just had a baby and if you dare feel overwhelmed you worry people think you have postnatal depression, which in turn makes you feel like a failure because you should be happy, right? You go round in circles feeling happy, feeling sad, feeling guilty for feeling sad, and the cycle goes on.
In all honesty, I believe there’s too much pressure for us to be one of these amazing ‘Super-Mom’s’ who cook, clean, rear the kids all whilst looking immaculate and always have a smile on their face. We believe we need to have it all together because that’s what Mum’s do. As a baby photographer I’ve met lots of different Mum’s from different walks of life and they have all felt the same. They’ve felt lonely, anxious, guilty, overwhelmed, frustrated and emotional. And maybe that’s what is actually ‘normal‘ but nobody talks about it? Everyone talks about how happy and blissful they are, but nobody really speaks about the darker days they have.
There are days you feel fine, content even. Then there are days you just want to run and hide under your duvet and not surface, but you can’t. And in all honesty that never goes away. It’s amazing watching this little person grow, their features change and their little character build. But with that also comes teething, crawling, crawling absolutely everywhere at the speed of light and pulling all the washing off your radiators and you crawling behind them trying to make sure they don’t put something in their mouth they shouldn’t, then they’re walking! Just toddling about opening every single cupboard door and drawer that’s within reach and pressing buttons that make your washing machine spin for hours and hours, then they start talking, talking back…you get the picture. These are the days you’ll go in to survival mode and just get through the day before dropping in to a puddle of exhaustion at the end of it. And that’s okay. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, emotional and lonely. It’s on these days I want you to know that you are not alone. There are millions of women all around the world feeling the exact way you do. We might have different parenting skills, live in different areas and live different lifestyles, but we all feel the same, and some of these people are closer than you think.
There are days when everything slows down. You actually get to sit down, have a cup of tea and think, even breathe for a few seconds. Then you realise that your baby has become a little person, a funny little person with their own little personality. Every single day that little person makes you smile, gives you a hug like nobody else can and loves you like nobody else does. Your child will do something so insignificantly endearing and your heart will just melt away in to tiny pieces thinking about how much love you have for this tiny human. These are the days that make it all worthwhile and you realise what being a Mum really is. It’s everything they said it would be and more, it’s an amazing, scary, overwhelming, exhausting, blissful, frustrating, loving and terrifying experience that you’d do over and over again.