A new kind of normal.

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When you put the baby on the play mat, make yourself a cup of coffee and walk around the corner to see that he’s wriggled his way off the mat – and he’s not even crawling yet! Uh-oh!

I actually signed up to Word Press when my son was not even 3 weeks old, thinking that I’d love to start a Blog about being a new (first-time) Mom.  My son is now 5 and a half months old and I am only sitting down to write my first entry now!  Haha!

I think that actually speaks to one of the challenges of motherhood.  There are many joys, don’t get me wrong – more joys than anything – but if blogging is all about being honest, I want to be honest here.

So, back to one of these challenges I’ve found so far in motherhood which is exactly why it’s taken me so long to get to this point of writing my first entry: you want to start something now, but there are so many other things to do that the thing you want to do doesn’t get done.  Until you actually find five minutes somewhere and actually start doing it (like now – when my parents have just left after stopping by for a coffee, the baby has just gone down, and the husband is on his way home from the airport – ETA 20 or so minutes).

Where to begin?  It feels natural to start with how much my life has changed since our little man came into our lives.  And whilst so much has changed, in actual fact, a lot hasn’t as well.

People find this hard to believe when I say it.  Yes, externally, things have changed – all the things you’d expect, but internally, in a kind of essential way, certain things haven’t changed:

Wait – the baby is crying…*walks in room, puts dummy back in, spends 10 mins patting bubba’s bottom ’til he drifts off again*

This happens nearly every time we put him down for a sleep, and I hear that it’s totally normal as he learns how to resettle himself.  Sometimes I feel as if I nail it – dummy goes back in, and he instantly falls back asleep – other times, I have to go back into the room numerous times at each cry to soothe him: dummy back in/lift him up/pat his bottom, other times he coos himself to sleep.  It seems that today he’s struggling to fall – and stay – asleep.  However, I’ll keep writing here as long as I can until the next cry/wake up. 

Where was I? Oh yes. Things that have changed.

  • My body has changed (my boobs are food sources now, no longer sexually alluring to neither me nor my hubby; as I am writing this I have a wrist strap on as I have De Quervain’s tenosynovitis – I know, right?  Apparently this is a common condition in breastfeeding mothers. More on this in a future post!; I won’t even mention the fact that every time I bend over I feel that a litre of air is being sucked up by my vagina – Kegels anyone?)
  • Our house has changed (activity mat, toys, loads of washing – endless loads of washing! – needing to think about toddler-proofing the place, did I mention the endless loads of washing?)
  • Our priorities have changed (I think we’ve had the TV on about 5 times since he’s been born, and I’ve just recently cancelled our Netflix account because we’ve literally been contributing to the company’s profit margins without getting anything in return in the last 5 months.  Don’t worry, Netflix – we will be back – or so I hope!? I can literally hear the laughter of a thousand other parents out there).
  • Our conversations have changed (we actually don’t know what we used to talk about before our son was born?)
This is a snapshot of a portion of our lounge which has been taken over by baby paraphernalia! Activity mat, sensory toys, nappy bag, car seat, Jolly Jumper and breast pump boxes!

In the hour or so since I started this post, baby woke up and needed soothing at least 5 times, and hubby arrived back home. I’ll have to get to this later!

4 hours later.  

Baby is down again, hubby is mowing the lawns, roast is in the oven for dinner and there’s a semi-semblance of order to the household for me to sit down and try and finish this first post!  I was writing about the things that have changed…

  • Speaking of our conversations having changed; our understanding of “busyness” has changed (we have no idea what it is that we used to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that kept us both so busy?)
    • Our answer to everyone who used to ask how we were doing used to be, “we’ve just been so busy”, or “sorry I haven’t got back to you yet, I’ve just been so busy”.  With a baby in our lives now, we barely even know what quiet time is anymore. And we’re very conscious of now calling ourselves “busy”.  I think it’s just called being parents. Busy is a real thing.  But I think it’s just a normal thing.  It doesn’t need to be an excuse for anything.  It’s just reality.
  • Getting used to the idea of yourselves as parents, and of yourself as a Mother.  This has to be one of the strangest things to have to get used to.
    • You go so long in your life as an individual, then you identify as a partner, a wife perhaps – which takes its own amount of getting used to – and then suddenly, even though a whole 9 months passes “getting used to” the idea of bringing a child into the world, you suddenly have one and it’s super weird trying to even grasp that as a concept: “I have a child now; I am a Mother.” Suddenly you get the feeling that you really are an adult, and it’s a difficult concept to grasp mentally and internally.  What does ‘being an adult’ even mean? Let alone being a parent!  You have this inner chatter and hear yourself say at times, “I don’t feel capable of this monumental responsibility”.

Okay.  So those are some things that have changed.  But as I set out at the beginning of this post, a lot hasn’t changed.

OMG.  I nearly forgot one absolutely crucial thing that has changed. I can’t believe it wasn’t on top of this list!  You can blame sleep deprivation(!)

  • Sleep.  Sweet, sweet sleep.  You’ve heard it all before from other parents; you’ve read about it online and in books and on Facebook and everywhere.  Our sleep has changed.  I used to be one of those people who’d say to others – unashamedly – “I am definitely a person who needs my full 9 hours of sleep.  If I don’t get that I just can’t function”. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! Ha. Ha. It’s actually incredible just how little sleep, or rather, lack of quality sleep, a person can actually function on.
  • One last thing that has changed that can’t be ignored, is our sex life. I know there’s a tonne of stuff to blame this on: the hormones, the lack of (quality) sleep, the fact that the baby is still in our room with us, being tired and exhausted all the time where any spare moment is relished in adult conversation, eating, ablutions, or if we’re lucky, sleep.  Sex just isn’t on the menu these days.

Okay. So there you have it.  The significant things that I can identify as having changed in my life so far: my body, my house, my priorities, my conversations, my understanding of “busyness”,  my coming to terms with my new role as a mother, my sleep, and my sex life.  Just to name a few.

I thought this was going to be a post about what hasn’t changed! So, then – what hasn’t changed?

Well, in many ways, bizarrely enough, given the above – life seems to have continued on as normal, whatever “normal” may be.

Things that have always needed to happen previously in our lives, still continue to happen.  We still need to eat, we still need to pay bills, we still need to visit friends, go to birthday parties, weddings, stag dos and hens dos; we still need to try to stay fit, to eat well, to save, to connect with one another, to travel, to visit family, and to try and live consciously.

We still need to do all these things. There’s just a cute little dude that has to come with us everywhere we go.  A little dude who delights us with every smile he gifts us, and with every coo and giggle and wriggle.  A little dude that doesn’t come with an instruction manual, or any material possessions at all, but who, in his short few months since birth has acquired more material possessions than we have combined (not to mention a bigger, bulkier handbag than I’ve ever had!  A handbag that you simply cannot leave the house without!).

In many ways while I feel somewhat different inside, mentally speaking, I still feel like I am the same person essentially.  I have the same hopes and dreams I had before becoming a mother, with a few more that include the aforementioned little dude, of course.  Sure, there are some mental doubts and negative self-talk at times, and some really, really tough days.  But on the whole, the essence of who I was before is still there.  Which to be honest has surprised me somewhat.  I guess I thought becoming a mother would change all that quite significantly.

Life goes on.  And while there’s this whole new element to our lives as a couple, in the shape of a tiny human being, we are still who we always have been: a guy and a girl who fell for each other when we were 15 years old (we’re now both in our early thirties); we’ve traveled together, lived together, and essentially, grown up together.

And now we’ve jumped into the deep end of this lake we call life together; the deep end, called parenthood; where at times you’re not exactly sure you’re keeping your head above water; where at times you feel that the water is murky and you can’t see things all too clearly; where at times you question your ability to swim, you look beside you and you realise you are not alone.

You’re being buoyed by each other whilst delicately holding on to this little package you created together.  This precious package that needs you, depends on you, and looks to you for direction.  You realise then that you’re in this together, that regardless of what happens, this is your new kind of normal.

I’d love for you to leave a comment below.  As mentioned, this is my first ever blog post, so please be kind.

I promise to expand on some of the themes addressed here, because I think they’re real things that a lot of first time mothers and first time parents may struggle with.  While I certainly don’t have all the answers, I think that reading of other people’s experiences can be helpful in working things out for oneself.

It takes a village to raise a child.  Perhaps our online community is our new village.

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