When I was pregnant I was overloaded with information on what it would be like, what to expect, what to do etc. I thought i had a vague idea of it all by the time Betsy arrived, but i was so wrong.
Here is a list of things i was NOT prepared for when i became a mum.
This happened before I became a mum technically, but I'm still counting it because to this day it is still the thing that has by far shocked me the most. I cannot believe i survived it. And that is not me exaggerating. I hate that i am one of those women who talks so negatively about it, who terrifies other expectant mum's when they ask about it. Because not everyone will experience it the way i did. I had nothing significant happen, nothing 'went wrong', no medical interventions were needed. I was just so massively inexplicably not prepared and naive about the whole thing. The underlying emotion i felt the entire time was complete fear. From start to finish. And once it had finished, i didn't forget about it like they all told me i would. I still haven't!
2. The responsibility.
I cant remember when it actually sunk in that I was now a mum. It wasn't straight away, i was so caught up in the exhaustion and emotion of those first few days that i never really thought about it. I just muddled through. But when it did, i felt so overwhelmed. I was a mum. I am responsible for this little person, along with her daddy, for the rest of my life. I am responsible for the essential things like feeding her and caring for her. But i am also responsible for the bigger picture. For teaching her right from wrong. For helping her develop and grow.
When Betsy was a couple of months old she began crying hysterically every single day, from about 4pm on wards. Nothing would settle her, she was completely inconsolable. This would last for hours. It felt like it would never end, ever. We didn't know what to do. As it neared that wretched time every day i would be a bag of nerves, sitting anxiously watching her and the clock waiting for it to start. At the time we googled it relentlessly and found a few things that we thought it could be, instead of it being colic. I don't know why we did this, because looking back there is no doubt in my mind that it was indeed colic. I suppose it just made us a little bit hopeful that maybe we could actually stop it from happening. We definitely couldn't. It was awful.
As i wrote about in a previous post, I found breastfeeding tough. It was so relentless, never ending it felt like. I had to be available day and night, no matter what i was doing or how i was feeling. I had mastitis a twice, and suffered so much, particularly the first time. I couldn't get out of bed because of the flu like symptoms i had with it, it really knocked me. But throughout this, I had to ensure Betsy was fed. I suffer from awful paralyzing migraines, that have me being violently sick and lying lifelessly in bed in the dark unable to move. But again i had to make sure Betsy was fed. Though I am not complaining, I know that this was my responsibility, like i mentioned above. I still found it hard, and was not prepared for it!
5. The pressure on me and Ashley.
We have always had a reasonably good relationship. We have our ups and downs and things that annoy the crap put of each other, but we are pretty solid. Which is very lucky as it turns out. There's nothing like a screaming, demanding, not sleeping tiny person to test a relationship! Suddenly we were not each others priority. We were both totally out of our depth, looking after a baby, taking all the frustration, confusion and tiredness out on each other, all the time. We would bicker and argue with each other about what was best and what wasn't. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, we found our feet and things started to get better and easier.
Although If I'm honest...... some days we are still the same!
6. The loneliness.
This was something that i really was not expecting. I would have Betsy, I'd thought. How could i be lonely?? But i so was. Incredibly so. It hit when Ashley went back to work. Suddenly, there was no one there to chat too. The 'congratulations' and 'how are u doing' texts that kept me connected to life outside of this new baby bubble had stopped. I felt like i had lost my life before Betsy, and all those that came with it. I stopped being included in things. I felt like i had fallen from the face of the earth and no one had noticed. Apart from a handful of very good friends, I didn't hear from anyone. I cannot put into words how that felt. It was very hard.
7. The sleep deprivation.
This is one that continues to cripple me, which i cannot believe seeing as Betsy is 15 months old. Surely i should be used to it!! There have been so many mornings when i have actually wondered whether I should be left with a baby. Whether i am physically capable of looking after her. So many mornings i have been in floods of tears, telling myself i cannot survive another day, I cannot do this all over again, on so little sleep. And yet i have. All mothers do. There are not many things in this world i would choose over a decent night of uninterrupted sleep with no early start at the end of it. Sometimes I'm not even sure i would choose my daughter over it.
When having a baby, i have learned that it is extremely preferable to have a very large and willing group of people to hand baby over to. This is a luxury we do not have, and one that we didn't even think about when we had Betsy. Neither of us have a large family, and we aren't yet at a stage where we would feel comfortable dumping her off on a friend. We do have a couple of lovely family members who are more then willing to have her when they can, in particular my mother in law who is amazing and has many times whisked Betsy off to stop me from losing my mind. We are so super grateful for them. So it isn't as if we have no one. But because there isn't a lot of people to share out the babysitting duties between, it means that we do very little without her. Which when she is driving us round the bend it very hard!
9. How much planning everything requires.
Me and Ashley are reasonably spontaneous people. We like to do things on a whim. We also hate staying in. Which means we had a huge shock when Betsy arrived. There is SO much to consider when doing anything with a baby. A ridiculous amount. And devastatingly, the list seems to be getting longer the older she gets! God help me if i leave the house snack less. Just the other day we had a nappy explosion which meant we have to buy her a whole new outfit because we foolishly thought we were over this phase and so didn't carry around spare clothes. We have to time everything around her mealtimes and snack times. And also, it just isn't possible to always be out of the house all day, simply because it will mean Betsy is in her pram for the entire day, which isn't ideal. There is just so much to think about!
These points are possibly things that other new mum's haven't been surprised by or found tough. Or maybe their baby never had colic, or they never breastfed. Every mum and baby is different, and therefore every new parent has different things that they find are a bit of a struggle.
My last point though is where we find some common ground. The one that makes all of the above worthwhile.
10. The overwhelming love i have for my daughter.
I cannot explain it. And before i had her, i never understood it. It is such an intense feeling, something that i have never experienced. But it is the reason why no matter what i will always be there for her. I would do absolutely anything for her, I would walk to the ends of the earth for her, I would without question die for her. She is the best and most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I am so incredibly proud of her, of every little new thing she does. She is worth it all and more.