What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Being a mum & still being me

By Poppy

Being a mum & still being me

When I fell pregnant there were feelings of immense joy. I was going to become a mum, the happy thoughts of what to come were endless. Becoming a family, watching my child grow up, teaching her the wonderful things I had learned and sharing the many experiences that had brought tremendous happiness in my life. I’d heard plenty of people comment on how having children brought a whole new, exciting and rewarding dynamic to your life. And now, I was lucky enough to soon be experiencing this myself.

These strong feelings of elation were also hindered by the realisation of the changes that having a child can only bring. Life was pretty good in my twenties. I had a job that was challenging and rewarding, a love of sports and the outdoors that occupied my weekends, dinner parties with friends, time for cooking and enjoying special dinners with my husband, and a Master’s degree in the evenings . How an earth was having a little person that requires 24 hour care going to fit in with this?

What I fast realised with the arrival of Penelope was, with the joy of having a child and all the incredible things that come with that child, life also has challenges. Activities, adult conversations and time for yourself is heavily compromised. This was hard to stomach during the pregnancy and a big shock once Penelope landed in our arms.

What I have learnt to accept with time is that with the losses of my former life come gains. Better yet some of these losses are only temporary while the gains are not. The positives only continue to get better as Penelope becomes easier to manage and more responsive to us. Each day we are rewarded with this amazing little girl who continues to surprise us. Of course dinner parties, days spent lulling around on the weekend and playing sports are more limited, I can’t cook like I used, my job is on hold and my masters has been reduced in scale. But none of this is forever, and as we approach the 3 month mark some of these activities and enjoyments are creeping back into our lives.

I won’t be back at work tomorrow, but I will be back at work at some point. My Masters will get finished, I will be able to have a swim, go for a run and have a hit of tennis with friends.

The best thing of all about compromising your previous life is that you learn to appreciate and love the time you do get. I think previously I often took months, days and even hours for granted. A swim has never felt so good now, going to uni for 3 hours is a pleasure not a chore. I love every waking moment with Penelope and miss her when I am away for only an hour.

I’m meant to be enjoying ‘my’ time when I am away from her and yet somehow I still miss her. Lucky us, we get to come back to her again and again. In that way I think the losses and gains merge. Some days there are losses and other days 100 gains. It’s a balance I just keep trying to keep in perspective. At the end of the day I am still me, and better yet I now have a family.

Expert response from What Were We Thinking! expert, Jan O'Connell

The birth of a baby always involves loss as well as gains. Each person misses different things and this can lead to tension. It is important to talk together to understand how the other person is feeling.

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