I felt so prepared for my first born. I read all the books, bought every recommend item and googled all the things. He arrived with support and love in spades. But there was something I didn’t expect. Something I wasn’t prepared for. I didn’t count on the identity crisis that followed my son’s birth.
I’m not the only woman to have experienced this sense of loss when having a baby. Ever noticed how maternity wards are full of women with exactly the same name? How are you feeling, mummy? How did he feed today, mummy? You have a baby and they become everything. Your focus. Everyone else’s focus. And as everyone focussed on him, I felt myself fading. Just a little bit. Not quite as sure-footed as I once was.
It’s a strange situation to find yourself in. After years of independence, I became dependent on my husband, just as my little one was dependant on me. Everything blurred together. And it wasn’t just the sleep deprivation. It was hard to find where I began and ended in this new role. And it worried me.
Who was I? If I wasn’t working, what value did I contribute to society? How much of the old me made sense in the context of motherhood? Would my body ever look like it once did? Would my marriage? Would my friendships? How could I be a good mum, obsessing over these essentially selfish questions? How much of me was okay to claim back? And when? Do all new mums feel like this?
My children are older now. The title of mum no longer feels strange. I’m more comfortable with that part of myself. I have rediscovered who I am and no longer feel lost. I’ve found the things that make me happy and I make time for them. I’ve found peace where I am career-wise (some days). I find intrinsic value in motherhood, even when it feels under-appreciated. Our family has a routine and a rhythm that makes sense for us. I recognise this small window of time for what it is. A time of huge sacrifice and enormous reward. A time to treasure that doesn’t last all that long.
The days are long and the years are short. It’s so trite and so true. I look at my older boys now, and I wonder how they grew up so quickly. I wonder if I lost something in those early months, being so preoccupied with re-defining myself. Maybe I could have just let it go. Maybe I could have been okay with not knowing. I could have trusted that I would evolve with motherhood.
Perhaps you are in that space. Totally in love with your new baby but wondering where you went. If you’re trying to find out who you are in this new role, then you aren’t alone. So many of my friends have felt this with newborns in their arms. Women with impressive resumes and huge responsibilities, suddenly fighting to define themselves.
I wish I could go back and tell myself that it’s okay. You don’t have to figure it all out. You have become someone new as you welcomed someone new. It’s a huge change and you don’t have to have all the answers. Any big change, any new role, shapes us and alter us. Sometimes we don’t even feel it happening and we only realise how far we have come when we look back. This is the biggest change you have experienced in your lifetime. Things will shift around. Your priorities will change. You don’t have to search so frantically for all the answers. They will find you. Eventually. As will sleep, hot coffee, intimacy with your partner and fun times with friends. It all finds you again, eventually.
Robyna believes in the powers of kindness, chocolate and finding beauty in the mundane. Before having children she worked in the corporate legal world. Now she works in the mud-stained and laughter-filled world of mothering small boys. Writing is her creative passion and great escape. As the editor of the Mummy and the Minx she explores how mothers can hold onto themselves whilst holding onto their babies. She also freelance consults in the areas of IT, law and social media. Once, she tried to give up coffee. It did not end well. You can follow her adventures on Facebook, Instagram and (when Facebook is down) Twitter .