Self-reflection is a wonderful thing. I often reflect on experiences as a way to learn from them and I find the learning that occurs after the fact is sometimes even more profound than the skills learned during the event.
I do this in work and I do this in life. It is my meditation and usually occurs without actively meaning to do so.
While I’m cooking, in the shower or folding clothes; or some other mundane task.
So naturally I have replayed the events leading up to Jaxon being born, how I felt, what my opinions of myself were, what kind of parent I thought I would be.
Then he was born and it all changed! This I can see in how I conduct myself. How I tackle day-to-day challenges and how I react to people and my own inner and outer abilities, appearance, shortfalls and achievements.
Jax is 4 months old next week and I can’t help but be in awe of everything we have been through up until this point.
He has taught me so much about myself that I never knew existed about me.
So, what have I learned in this reflection of myself?
I implore you to humor me and read on.
Things I Learnt About Myself After Becoming A Mother
I am stronger than I ever knew
12.5hr labour, no drugs. That’s how strong I am. I labored at home until 5cm dilated, until I called it and we went to the hospital. I walked 15 minutes from the car to the birthing unit, which felt like hours. I had second degree tears. I got stitched up with no local anesthetic. I persevered through 2 painful weeks of bleeding nipples as we learned to breastfeed. I didn’t give up.
I took 6 weeks to heal my stitches. I had a cystocele (collapsed bladder). I healed this too.
Despite all these experiences…
I smiled at my baby every day. I loved him and danced in the loungeroom with him. I never blamed him. I was never a victim of post-natal depression. I grew stronger with every day.
These are things I never envisioned as part of the birthing process.
I thought giving birth was just one of those things that women did. I am a go-with-the-flow don’t-sweat-the-details kind of person so I didn’t really know what to expect.
But what I didn’t expect was to come out the other end feeling empowered.
I didn’t have a reference for the amount of pain I would go through. I didn’t have a reference for how the hormones and emotions would try and destroy me. But I got through it and I look back and I am so proud of myself for conquering this amazing thing.
I have the calming ability of a saint
When Jaxon is going through his leaps and is screaming down the house; or when Alan is home alone with Jax and he just wont settle;
I feel like a superhero swooping in to restore calm. I can shush Jax with a simple cuddle and rock most times (unless he’s hungry).
This is something I never thought would be a possibility for me. My opinion about myself has always been that I am awkward around babies and I never felt comfortable holding anyone’s child.
But when it is your own, wow tables turn.
And when he is fighting sleep or simply Will. Not. Settle. I somehow have this newfound ability to stay calm and help him through the event until he smiles or falls asleep, or both.
My husband looks at me with sheer admiration when I manage these little feats. And that speaks volumes in itself. I know I am not the only one surprised!
I rely on my husband just as much as he relies on me
While I have learned to be calm in most situations there are some that I just cannot. Whether it’s because I’m sleep deprived or Jax is fussing at the breast for hours, sometimes I just need a break. And who allows me that break? Alan.
He comes in on his white horse in his armor of trackies and stubble and swoops Jax up. He plays with him, baths him, feeds him, reads to him and puts him to bed pretty much every night.
Some days he is my savior.
Even after a crap day at work he will come home and play with Jax and make sure I get to shower first, and make me a cup of tea while I do #husbandgoals
I never thought I would rely on someone so much in my life.
I was not expecting having a baby to make our relationship better either!
We are in this together, the sleepless nights, the poo-explosions, the milk burps, the temperatures, the smiles, the laughs, the giggles, the milestones.
I CAN function on little to no sleep… just
I used to sleep 8-10hrs every night and I would be useless without at least 6hrs (and an afternoon nap).
Now? Well I’m writing to you with a solid 4hrs under my belt and I feel great! (apologies in advance for any spelling mistakes); 2 nights ago, I was lucky to get 2hrs total so double that is spectacular!
I am now in a constant state of confusion between wanting to go to bed early with Jax to get the extra sleep and staying up late to get some me or husband time. I never thought I wouldn’t choose the former! But, night after night we find ourselves crawling quietly into bed at 1am after watching trashy TV or Netflix for 4hrs straight.
It’s harder than I thought it would be
Tears have been shed.
The being on call part is really what gets to me though. It’s having to drop everything and tend to Jax 24/7 that drains my existence. And I will not pretend that I love every minute of it, #sorrynotsorry.
Some days I want to hide in a cupboard and just sit in silence with no one tugging on my boobs or demanding attention and affection.
There are some days that make me question if I am ready for kids (too late, I know). And those are the days that Alan and I are the closest. We bond over the difficulty of parenting and our inability to always know what Jax wants.
It’s easier than I thought it would be
Who knew that overnight I would develop a whole entire set of mama skills that I didn’t have before? I can swaddle, I can change a nappy in record speed, I can burp a gassy baby. All confidently!
There is something evolutionary about becoming a parent. Its like everything just clicks and you just somehow know what they want when they cry a certain way.
I can listen to his cry and guess that he needs to be burped; and sure enough, I will pick him up and he will belch so loud he cries.
Where the heck, did I learn that skill?
It feels like I have gone into another dimension when I was in labour (maybe while nearly passing out while pushing??) and come out with mama skills. Ridiculous I know but I’m sure I’m not the only one?
I can forget about my body issues
Stretch marks like no tomorrow, flabby mum-tum, bigger booty, huge heavy boobs, acne, oily hair, BO, leaking EVERYTHING!
“But let’s deal with that later” was my moto when I looked in the mirror. Other than basic hygiene rituals I didn’t bother obsessing in the mirror about my blackheads and extra few kgs.
I was so distracted and calmed by the arrival of Jaxon that I literally felt indifferent towards my appearance for the first time ever.
Carrying and giving birth has a cathartic affect on self-worth. Who would have thought?
Every time I see my body or am unable to fit into a piece of clothing, I am reminded WHY my body has changed and what it has achieved. And I shrug my shoulders and go play with my baby.
I am a fierce protector
Like the overnight skills in how to look after baby, I also feel like my demeaner has changed.
I watch people and how they interact with Jax, ready to intervene at a moments notice if I sense (with my mama-senses) that he is uncomfortable or not enjoying someone’s company or antics.
I will do ANYTHING for my baby to feel safe and secure at all times and I don’t care how I need to make that happen.
Life will never be the same again… for real
Everyone tells you this. You know it but you don’t KNOW it until you actually bring baby home and realise the extent to which you will NEVER go back to how things were.
You now have a whole new purpose in life. You worry about someone else other than yourself. Your pets become just pets. Your husband is a god and you are a worrying worrier who is in constant need of coffee.
Ok so that last part hasn’t changed too much!
I was expecting for these changes to completely stop life in it’s tracks. No more socializing, no more me time, reduced family visits, no more sex…
In fact, the change has been reversed for all these fact (yes, all of them!).
I value the me time I get so much more than before. Social catch ups are more regular (especially now that I have a new group of mama-friends), family visits are less stressful (I never have to worry about rocking up ‘empty-handed again’), and the sex? Well that’s a story for another day.
What were you surprised about when you became a parent? Did you have a new opinion of yourself and the world around you?
I would love you to add your story of empowerment in the comments below!