The last few months have been tougher than I ever imagined they would be. After Elsie was born I spent a euphoric 24 hours feeling like bloody superwoman. Even though my body felt like it had been hit by a lorry, with every single limb and muscle aching, and a haemorrhaging foof that felt as if it was about it drop out, I still felt blooming brilliant. Adrenaline, body trauma, shock, sleep deprivation and a whole new level of love are a funny concoction of body reactions. And here you are, a whole new, slightly unhinged you, now in charge of a tiny human. Oh crap bags.
I was floating with elation that I’d just done something totally and utterly amazing and was beyond grateful that I had something to show for it. A beautiful healthy baby girl, that we got to love and keep forever. Everything was perfect. Or so I thought. Little did I realise then that life was going to get a whole lot tougher…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. If you’ve been following my blog from our struggles to conceive to our little wish coming true, then you’ll appreciate that I’m not sounding at all ungrateful. I’m merely continuing to share our experiences and simply telling the truth, something of which I know so many old and new mums can relate to. No one really tells you this side to having a baby. I think one tends to forget the darker aspects to something so wonderful. Like childbirth, you block out the painful memories of it, otherwise I’m pretty sure no woman would do it again willy nilly. Excuse the pun there.
But those first few weeks are really, really fecking hard. No amount of preparation, planning, books or advice can really and truly put you in the right frame of mind for the rollercoaster that you are now strapped to with no way of getting off. This crazy, emotional and frightening time is now your life, but not as you once knew it.
There is, of course, an abundance of good things happening in those first few weeks. The love you have for your baby grows each and everyday. But as much as I spammed my Instagram account with yummy filtered photographs of my new best friend and joked about sleepless nights, I was closer to cracking up in my non-filtered new life behind the screen. From the moment Elsie arrived everything changed. The harmonious balance that we had perfected was now all wonky. Nothing was how it was before and there was no time to sit and ponder this new life. All you can do it go with it.
Within 24 hours of being home, it was quite clear that this baby lark wasn’t going to be as breezy as I had imagined. I remember being back at home sitting in bed (where I don’t think I moved from for at least several days weeks), sobbing my heart out and wishing so badly that I could go back into hospital. I wanted that constant support that I had been given in hospital. I wanted reassurance that everything that was happening to us was in fact normal. Like a delirious new mum, I had been so eager to get home and start our new life, which in my head mainly involved going shopping for new baby girl clothes and strolling around, proud as punch with our shiny new pram. Ha! How little I knew then.
No one can prepare you for the aftermath of having a baby. I was so frightened, exhausted and so disappointed in myself. Where was the super efficient, on the ball and together girl I used to know? I still clung to the old me and tortured myself for not getting to grips with our new life as well as I thought I would. This new baby, that certainly didn’t come with an instruction book, brought with it so much love, but also so much chaos, that a so-called ‘together’ person like me, clearly wasn’t prepared for. My home was a mess, my body was a wreck and my visions of being a yummy mummy were about as realistic as leaving the house before midday without odd shoes on and my hair brushed.
Are you enjoying her?, the midwife asked. What? like I enjoy a glass of prosescco and manicure? I’d hardly use enjoy as a way of describing my car crash of emotions I was feeling at that point. Talk about chucking a pie full of guilt right in my face.
Things will get easier they say. This is said to you so often in those early days that you’re torn between punching them in the face and the guilt that you feel as you yearn for the days when things will indeed get easier.
Don’t worry about anything else they say. That’s easier for everyone else to say when you don’t know what day it is, or if you’ve got any clean knickers left, or when you last brushed your teeth, or the fact that your kitchen looks like a riot took place on MasterChef.
The good days are really good. But the bad days are really, really shit. And sadly what I realised quite early on is that you rarely get to appreciate the good days until they are over. You’ve spent all day on tenterhooks, nurturing this ticking time bomb, just praying that you make it through the next hour with both your sanity in tact and the little one alive.
I don’t think I’ll ever fully embrace my new chaotic life. The mess, the disarray, the dishevelled look goes against everything I’ve worked so hard to perfect up until this point in my life. But having Elsie has changed me. I’m learning to relax more and take each hour day as it comes. I know I’m changing for the better and hopefully that will make me a better, much calmer mummy. She comes first now, everything else has to wait. Life can’t be as it was before. It doesn’t mean that your life is over, it just means you’ve got to learn how to adjust to this new one and that’s OK, I realise that now.
As the newborn fog lifts, I wouldn’t say it gets easier, I’d say life becomes more manageable. You grow together, learn more about each other and as the days go by you realise that you’re actually doing better than you give yourself credit for. You might not get a pat on the back at the end of the day (more like a dollop of milk puke) but it’s in those little moments and milestones, that make your new life simply amazing. The smiles, the giggles, the way her eyes light up when she sees you, the way she falls asleep in my arms and the way she makes me feel like the most important person in the world…these are the moments that make life just perfect.
It’s our life, not as we’d known it, but we certainly love it with Elsie in it.
Until next time…
With Love & Life As We Know It,