The basic self-care advice I often received as a new mum was to ‘sleep when the baby is sleeping’. This certainly comes from a well-meaning place; however, for me, I found it a challenge to switch into ‘sleep now!’ mode; especially in my early years – I had three kids in 2 ½ years; so, I was pregnant most of the time! And… I was also still running a Speech Pathology company.
In the first few months of having my first child I was exhausted. A new mum, adjusting to the lack of sleep; the new concept of breastfeeding, and the somewhat repetitious cycle of the newborn stage.
I remember the drive home from the hospital; sitting in the back seat of the car to ensure I could stay close and keep an eye on this tiny human brought into the world. The mix of excitement, and anticipation of this new life phase was truly alive; and unknowingly; was also just the beginning of the deepest ongoing personal growth and self-discovery journey.
Those first few hours of arriving home, my head was busy…
What time is next feed?
What breast do I need to start from? They are getting sore!
I can’t wrap the baby as well as the nurses at the hospital!
Should I eat now, shower now or try to sleep?
There are visitors due to come – do we have food and drinks to offer?
I was trying to get my head around the very new ‘task descriptors’ of mothering, in the home context; and I needed to do this quickly, for having my own small business could not afford me any maternity leave – but it could afford me a flexible return to work.
I loved watching how quickly my daughter grew and changed; I simply adored her. The ongoing sleeplessness though, felt like a ‘heavy weight’ that I was now constantly dragging behind me. Some months in I decided “This – is – hard!” I knew I wanted to have more kids; but I also knew that I didn’t want to go back to feeling ‘normal’ and then go back into this weighted hazy space. So, we extended the sleeplessness, by having two more children very soon after.
Some people called me ‘crazy!’, others called me ‘amazing!’ I called it ‘my normal’.
Everyone’s ‘normal’ is different – what is yours?
Now, looking back, if I had to say something to myself in those early months; it would be along the lines of…
- You are learning as you go
- Take one day at a time
- Find what works for you
- Be kind to yourself; within your thoughts and your actions
- Get to know your child
- Allow your child to get to know you – the individual, who is now wearing the ‘mothering hat’
- Prioritise connecting and communicating with the people in your life who love you unconditionally
Consider choosing a mantra that resonates most with you. Why?
Because you matter. You are valued. You are loved.
It is time for you to Flourish.