Before I became a parent, I thought I was a perfect one. I thought motherhood would be a walk in the park. I had planned my ways of doing things; routine, sleep, how I would feed. I couldn’t understand why people would need a break. I was told I would eat my words, that I will be exhausted. That it would be one of the hardest journey I would ever walk, but also the most rewarding.
I didn’t need anyone to tell me. I knew how it would go. I was a know-it-all because I felt I knew it all.
My friends and family with kids would look at me, knowingly, probably frightened for me, but would smile at my non-parenting tips anyway.
A young friend recently told me she was pregnant. She’s 21. Married to the love of her life and desperately wanting to start a family. She announced it to me and other mothers. Watching our young friend smile with delight, she said how she’s been so tired, and that’s how she knew.
I looked around at all the other mothers in the room. They all knew the tiredness, their eyes screamed it with the heavy bags weighing their lids down. They all smiled at her and hugged her, and gave her heartfelt congratulations. They all told her how beautiful it was going to be.
I stared at her, and wanting to scream “nooooooo”. I wanted to tell her the journey she was about to go on was going to be like a rough stream. I wanted to tell her that some days aren’t going to be beautiful, and some days are going to be shit.
But I knew, I was in that blissful state once too. Tiredness, nausea all swallowed by excitement and anticipation of what was coming. I knew she probably wouldn’t listen.
I wanted to tell her what it was really like, That I had all the baby books, a mountain of cute clothes, booties, soft toys. I googled the perfect nursery, how big my baby was at 22 weeks, 3 days and 45 minutes. I couldn’t wait to pop.
We went to the birthing classes, I read hypnobirthing techniques, I googled when was the last minute to get an epidural, just in case.
I scoffed down raspberry leaf tea tablets and bounced on fitballs, I walked and walked while eating hot wings. I wanted this baby now! I was ready and too impatient to wait, and finally the day came.
14 hours with an epidural in and I just stared at the clock. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t feel anything, just excitement.
And all of a sudden, he was here. I looked at him and said “oh, is this what you look like?” he was beautiful, he was amazing and I was in love.
But I wasn’t ready. Not as ready as I had thought…
I wasn’t prepared for the exhaustion, the tiredness, the guilt, the heartache. The deep end of the pool in where I was drowning.
I wanted to grab my friend by her little skinny 21 year old arms and say to her; your heart is going to grow a thousand times bigger. You will feel a love in all points of your body. You will know this love but you will also know it to be different. A love like never before. This will be a love that makes you beyond happy, but it also makes your heart feel so heavy. There is a feeling of led in your chest that weighs deep into the pit of your stomach and that love will make you feel you’ve experienced your darkest days.
The darkness will come in the form of being so tired you think you’re dreaming when you’re awake, and feel so sad you’re not sure if it’s exhaustion or actual depression.
You will be surrounded by tears. Tears from your own eyes and your baby’s. The day will start with cries, and end with cries, and some days it’ll be your own.
Your brain will feel like it zaps every time you hear the wails. You’ll be trying to nurture this tiny perfection all while trying to recover from birthing it. Hot showers and warm meals are a thing of the past.
Some days the cries will be harder, louder and desperate. You will google everything and have a new theory of why your new baby hates you, sleep and everything else, and some of this will warrant a trip to emergency. Only to be turned away as another first time parent, with a diagnoses of hypochondria.
Despite what birthing classes tell you, or the beautiful images of newborn babies crawling to their mothers breast, yours might not find yours, and when they do it’ll feel like razor blades. You’ll always be asked if you breastfeed, so you’ll fight through the pain to prove to everyone you can do it. You’ll shake from fear and pain just do to it.
But no matter how many people you have surrounding you, no matter how much encouragement you have, no matter how much you kill yourself to be everything for them; you will feel like you’ve failed, you will feel guilty and you will feel alone.
This heavy love will deplete your confidence, and make you doubt yourself. You’ll convince yourself you’re going mad.
Everyone else around is coping, everyone else has got this. Everyone around you told you it was the best thing that could ever happen to you. No one said it would be hard. Well they did, but not THIS hard.
But I won’t tell her any of that.
I won’t…because one day the fog will lift, and she will see how it is the best thing that ever happened to her. The most amazing thing, the most beautiful thing in the world.
There will come days where you will watch your beautiful child sleep perfectly, and feed perfectly (no matter how).
The crying will stop, yours and the baby’s.
Instead they will be replaced with smiles, and big laughs and squeals of delight.
And even though it won’t feel like it in that moment of heavy rain, you will get to a point where you miss the days of when they were so little, but instead you will have a smiley little boy, who loves to dance and cuddle, who gives you the cheekiest side eye looks and shares his big imagination. Or a little girl whose laugh feels you with light.
And you’ll have time for hot showers and warm meals, you’ll have the motivation again to nurture yourself.
You’ll learn to find the middle between the good days and the bad days. Some days you’ll be filled with joy, and other days you will feel like you have no energy to carry on. You will be tried and tested, you’ll be surprised and in awe. You won’t care what you’ve started and unfinished, because you just won’t care about pleasing anyone anymore, and you know unfinished means you started and that counts for so much.
Don’t regret the dark days and how you felt, because in those moments you gave it your all, and you were enough, and you’re more than enough now. You are an amazing mother.
So I’ll tell her congratulations, and I’ll tell her it’s the best thing that could ever happen to her. I’ll tell her she will feel the greatest love shes ever known. That she will will feel a love in all points of her body.
That, you will know this love but you will also know it to be different.
That you will know it as a love like never before.