Six months ago today, I was bringing a new life into the world. One of the days I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The start of a new journey. The day I became a mum. The day our team of two welcomed a bundle of energy and smiles. The day I embarked on the most amazing, yet challenging learning curve I’ve ever been on.
The past 6 months have flown by. Six months of joy and fun but also six months of sleep deprivation and trying to find my feet as a new mother.
There are days I feel out of my depth and others I feel confident about the choices I’m making for my family. But most days, I’m winging it… Trying to work it all out as I go along. So far, we seem to be doing ok.
Motherhood has definitely opened a part of myself I didn’t know about. I’ve discovered resources and fears I didn’t think I had.
I didn’t know I had this in me. Getting things done takes so much more time than it used to… Who knew you could spend an hour solidly breastfeeding… Ok, it is an opportunity to sit back and relax but an hour can be excruciatingly frustrating when you’re someone who’s on the go all the time.
You ‘just’ have to learn to let go and surrender to the process. An opportunity to slow down and go into a contemplative state I guess. It really isn’t easy for everyone. The same goes with getting the baby to sleep: singing, rocking, stroking, putting the baby down and picking him up again to repeat the whole process… At any time of the day. And night.
Without mentioning venturing out into the world. Getting ready to go out
can sometimes be is always a challenging mission!
I am not a naturally patient person, let’s be honest. I am relaxed but I like to get on with things. However, babies are unpredictable and need a lot of comfort and attention, understandably so. They can’t really have a word with themselves and answer their parents’ needs. It works the other way around. And it’s fine. It’s actually good for me. Learning to be patient and surrender to the process is making me a more flexible and tolerant person.
I would do anything for him
Wow! We are definitely animals. Protective instinct kicked in the minute Babou came into the world. That day, I knew I would do anything in my power to protect and preserve him. This ranges from defending our parenting choices when these are being questioned by closed ones or strangers to taking a bullet for him if his life was ever being threatened.
I am scared of dying and missing out
This is the biggest challenge for me. It comes and goes but it is often in my thoughts. I always used to think I was ok with leaving the world one day. I thought I was at peace with the idea of dying. Until I had Babou.
I have sat next to his crib sobbing many times since he was born. Both grateful that I’m by his side able to see him grow into an amazing little person and extremely sad at the same time realising the impermanence of life. My last breath might be in an hour, in a week or 50 years. There is a fine line between death and life and everything can be gone within seconds. It’s overwhelming. Yes it may be morbid but this is life and I don’t want to bury this fear, it’s real and I need to look at it in the face and work on making peace with it.
I don’t want to go and leave my loved ones behind. I want to be by their side, always. I don’t want to miss a second of my kids’ and husband’s life. In terms of personal development, this is huge. I need to work on that. I want to leave with a serene heart. For that, I must savour every single moment, the joyful times as well as the more challenging ones. Life is precious.
Being a mindful communicator preserves your relationship
Becoming a parent inevitably impacts on your relationship. Sleep deprivation is a killer. That combined with not knowing what we’re doing and riding the roller coaster of hormones can create an interesting cocktails of emotions. A cocktail that can burst every now and then as the pressure just has to be released.
I realise that learning to communicate effectively and non-violently with your partner is important, more than ever. I wrote a post about this when I was pregnant, explaining the power of non violent communication and how it can quickly pacify a situation. You can read it here.
My husband and I are lucky in the way that we rarely argue but I have noticed that sometimes, I expect him to read my mind and know exactly what I mean, want, need. This has inevitably resulted in complete miscomprehension and unnecessary tension. I blame lack of sleep. I am so tired there are days I can’t even talk properly. I end up speaking Franglish, my sentences are about three word long and not even in the right order. I look forward to a non interrupted night sleep, to feeling refreshed and being able to have a full conversation with people without switching off and staring in the empty every now and then. It is hard to watch your communication style when you’re sleep deprived and suffering from baby brain syndrome but it’s worth making the effort.
I believe communication in a couple (and with friends and family) is one of the keys to happy and long lasting relationships. Not any type of communication: mindful communication. Actively listening and communicating one’s needs clearly.
Wanting the best for your child can affect your mental health
I am talking about my personal journey with breastfeeding. There is so much pressure on new mums to breastfeed these days. It is hard not to feel guilty if you choose not to or if you choose to stop after a few weeks. I had a good first couple of months with no issue except the first week which is hard for everyone I think. Then suddenly, I started having issues and ended up having to exclusively pump and feed Babou in a bottle. So my days were structured around my express sessions. I couldn’t go out for more than 3 hours. All I talked about was breastfeeding. I spent a lot of time justifying to people why I was giving the bottle, going into far too much detail about my situation. They couldn’t care less but it was my way to let me off the hook and not feel guilty. I felt the need to explain why I wasn’t giving him the boob. I worried people might judge me if they saw a bottle, perhaps thinking I was giving him the dreaded poison, formula…
I did this for a couple of months. I was exhausted. I was starting to get really miserable. I could tell my mental health was suffering. I had a honest chat with the husband and it helped put things in perspective. I had a word with myself, I did some Sophrology which helped me look at my situation with more distance and non-judgment. I realised I was running myself to the ground with this obsession to give the best to my baby, the so-desired white gold! What was best? A fully breastfed baby with a miserable mum which would only result in an unhappy baby. Or a formula fed baby with a relaxed happy mum? I slowly transitioned onto formula. I cut myself some slack and gave myself a big tap on the back “I did well, 4 months of exclusive breastmilk is good enough”. I gave myself love and permission to let go. Babou is a thriving and happy baby 6 months old baby, 100% formula fed.
I feel so much better in myself.
I am much stronger and more resilient than I thought I was
Strange how you can be utterly exhausted, mentally and physically, yet able to keep on going… I am so much stronger than I thought I was. So much more resilient. No matter how you feel, you somehow find the resources within yourself to keep on going.