Last week I went to visit a brand new mama friend of mine whose twins are 12 weeks old. They were born at just 31 weeks, so they are still really teeny and needing their mama 24/7. We had a really good chat and while twin number 1 slept peacefully on my chest (and I tried to keep my ovaries under control) she fed twin number 2.
My little guy is 18 months old now and those hazy newborn days are but a distant memory, but being there with her, in that space for that hour, brought me back to that time and we chatted about what it’s REALLY like during those first few weeks and the things we’ve learnt along the way. I can only imagine how much more of a challenge it must be to have not 1 but 2 little babies, and on top of that, having such an early arrival. All I can say is she’s one hell of an amazing mama.
Friends often ask me if having a baby really is THAT hectic as people make it out to be, THAT life changing, THAT expensive… “like, why don’t you just get a babysitter and come for a drink?” Grrrr. (In case you were wondering, the answer to those questions are yes, yes and f*ck yes.)
What it’s really like…
My first 4 weeks as a Mom felt like someone took me up 40,000 feet in a plane and then through me out the window, and at the end of week 4, I hit the ground. Without a parachute. Haha. (Thank God I can say haha about that now).
It was way tougher than I imagined. Nothing prepared me for the reality of motherhood. I had always been the type of girl to take a long bath with a glass of wine, light candles at dinner time, paint my nails bright red when I felt creative and phone a friend just because and talk about nothing for half an hour. All that went away when baby arrived. It’s like I took that part of my personality and flushed it down the toilet without knowing about it!
I wanted to have everything under control. I wanted to do it all myself, like ‘all the other Moms’ do (their Instagram feeds looked way better than mine did!) I had done the whole pregnancy by myself and I could do this part too. Except I couldn’t. So much so that by 4 weeks old, my little man had become dehydrated and had to be admitted to hospital for 5 nights. Breastfeeding journey over. Tubes of formula stuck into his nose and fed through to his stomach. What a wake up call.
It was at that point that I totally lost it. I hated everyone in that hospital for what they were doing to my baby. I was so out of it at the time that I didn’t realise that they were actually saving him. I was such a mess. On night 2, the ward nurses had had enough of me, they called the head nurse and she gave me a talking to…
She told me that I was out of control and making life difficult for everyone around me and the nurses were getting fed up with my behaviour. She told me that my baby was crying with me because he could feel my energy and it was upsetting him. My only job was to give him love and forget about everything else. She gently took him from my arms and he immediately calmed down. She told me she was taking him up to NICU for the night (where she worked) and that I was to sleep. I cried and cried as she walked away with my baby, feeling like the worst Mom in the world. And then I slept.
At 5am the next morning, she brought him back to me and I was so grateful to see his little face again. Fast asleep all swaddled up. I realised right then and there that if I didn’t take care of myself first, I would not be able to take care of my baby. That nurse will always be my angel, she really switched a light on for me that night.
Mom comes first.
Self care as a Mom is so important. Whether it be sitting under a tree in your garden for 10 minutes and sipping a cup of tea while Dad / sister / friend looks after baby, or lying in a bubble bath once a week while Dad takes baby for a walk.
It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not have it all together. And it’s okay to feel guilty for sitting under that tree, because let’s face it Mom guilt shows up everywhere! But that too shall pass and just know that you don’t need to feel guilty for taking time for you. Self care is not selfish, it’s loving, to you and everyone in your world.
So mama’s now I’d love to hear from you in the comments below – what are the little things that you do to put yourself first? And if you don’t, what teeny weeny thing could you start doing today?