I talk to a young mum the other day and she made me remember about my first 1 year as being a mum. It is definitely a year I won’t forget, it was a hard year, although none of my friends would have known what a struggle I was going through. I guess many of us are good at pretending everything is perfect. For me when I had Bella it was as if I felt like I would have failed my first test as a parent if I didn’t have the perfect baby that slept and smiled all day.
Bella is now 7 years old. And what a beautiful, caring, intelligent young lady she is. She is every teachers dream student. She is respectful, she listens and she tries hard. Of course at home she isn’t the angel she is at school. But she can’t be all smiles and manners all day. Home is where she feels safe and comfortable and she can be herself. She isn’t even a teenager yet and she is using my things, I hate to think what it will be like when she is older. I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter but as a baby she was hard work.
You know how you see those mums who truly glow when they are pregnant, the ones who love being pregnant. That wasn’t me! As soon as I found out I was pregnant my sleeping went out the window, 8 years later and I’m still a poor sleeper. For the first few months into the pregnancy I constantly felt sick and didn’t eat much. This was especially hard because every day I had to appear to be full of energy for my class of 25 five year olds that I had to teach. And at the end of pregnancy I had put on 22 kgs, I was very round!
My husband and I aren’t big people and I’m short so we were never going to have big babies. At 37 weeks I had to be induced because the doctors were worried that Bella wasn’t growing. The birth itself was pretty straight forward and I was able to have a natural birth. Bella had to be taken to a special unit straight away because some of her levels were low, but nothing that any body was really concerned about. After I had a shower I was going to see Bella for the first time. The nurse asked me if I wanted a wheel chair because it was a bit of a walk to see her. I remember thinking how my dad always refused to have a wheel chair even after heart surgery so there was no way I was going to use one. After I took a few steps I felt very weak and light headed so I gladly got in the wheel chair and was pushed down to see her. When I saw Bella for the first time she was tiny, and looked so peaceful and perfect.
Shortly after seeing Bella for the first time I had to go see a specialist because I wouldn’t stop bleeding. I had to lie on a table and then the specialist had his hands inside of me, doing goodness knows what. He wasn’t gentle for sure! I winced and was in a lot of pain, I had just given birth! He did not have a good bed side manner. My husband John had to leave the room as he was about to pass out with the amount of blood.
We ended up staying in hospital for about a week while Bella put on some weight. Thankfully breast feed wasn’t a problem for me. I did struggle with the enormous boobs I suddenly got though. I remember thinking there was no need for a boob job (sadly for me I’m back to being flat chested now though!). When my milk came in, they would just squirt out milk in all different directions. Because I was still in hospital i had to improvise and I had to use a nappy under each boob to soak up all the milk lol.
I was glad to get home with Bella. Visitors came and went and all commented on what a beautiful baby she was, and she was but it felt like she never slept and it felt like she was always crying. I struggled for a year, and avoided leaving the house because I wasn’t sure I would know what to do or be able to cope if she started crying in public.
I take my hat off to all those stay at home mums out there. People think that staying at home is easier than going to work. I laugh at those people. For me going to work and teaching 20 odd five year olds was so much easier than being home with just one child. When I was at home with Bella, at 3pm each day I would text John and ask what time he would be home. Every day as soon as he walked through the door it was a relief. It was relief because I needed some adult company and if Bella had spent the day crying he could take her for a while.
People use to give us all kinds of advice to try and help Bella sleep. Everyone thought they were an expert and had the answer. Truth is we just did what worked for us. We tried everything. There were days when Bella would be crying so much that I would have to leave her safely in her cot and leave the room. In my head I would be screaming at her to stop crying. It was horrible. No one prepared me for how hard it would be. But to any one who visited they were none the wiser.
John and I both have one other sibling. So when we decided we wanted to have kids, we both wanted 2. After Bella was born, I found being a mum incredibly hard that I told John there was no way we were going to have another baby. It wasn’t until Bella turned 1 years old that I decided that I wanted another baby. I used to hate it how everyone would tell me ‘it will get easier’. When you are sleep deprived and you can hardly think straight, hearing that one day it will get easier doesn’t help or make you feel better.
Our second and last child Will, was such an easy baby who just slept. He slept that much that his head is misshaped from sleeping so much on one side!
I feel bless to have 2 beautiful, healthy children who are in many ways completely opposite from one another but in other ways are the same. For all you mums out there, whether you’ve just had a baby or whether your children are older. I think my biggest advice is to make sure every now and again, you take time out for just you. Get a baby sitter or ask family members to mind the kids for the day so that you can spend the time taking care of you. Being a mum can be extremely hard but it is the most rewarding thing you can ever think of. I couldn’t imagine my life without my kids, they are my world, they are my everything.