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A Reflection on Motherhood 10 months in…

I thought Mother’s Day was as good a day as any to share my thoughts on becoming a mum….

But first…

On this special day when we thank our mums for all that they have done for us and all that they continue you do, my thoughts are with those that aren’t able to celebrate with their mums today.

Those that aren’t able to tell their mum they love them and to celebrate by sharing cake or cups of tea or whatever it is that is special to you both. I hope instead you can find some pleasure in the beautiful memories you have of your time together in days gone by xx

Our beautiful Isabella is almost 10 months old which is just crazy. Where on earth did that time go? Somewhere between daily love explosions, cluster feeding, cuddles, teething, lack of sleep, and a new found investment in nappies and water wipes, our little girl is not so little anymore. In fact, we have the most adorable, cheeky, happy little thing and couldn’t have wished for a more amazing wee human to call our own. Every day, I count my blessings for this gorgeous girl.

I had planned on writing about my experiences as a first-time mum from day dot, but time got away on me...almost 10 months away on me to be precise. But honestly, what on earth was I thinking? In those first few weeks, I hardly had time for a shower, let alone to write about my feelings! Once we got Isabella home, we lived in our precious newborn bubble for what seemed like months and after my emergency caesarean I only left the house in the weekends for the first six weeks when my husband was home to carry the capsule and drive us to local eateries for lunch. Which by the way, was the most amazing time to get out because once Isabella was asleep she’d generally stay asleep for a blissful three or more hours which meant that I could eat with two hands, often enjoying a wine with my meal! Except that time we were at a lovely local winery when Isabella woke up just as my glass of wine arrived so here I was breastfeeding my newborn, wine in one hand and salmon chopped up by the husband in the other! And yes, it was only the one glass. My very first wine after a 10-month hiatus!

Isabella was a hungry little munchkin and cluster fed more evenings than not in those first few months. She also did A LOT of sleeping on us. We snuggled up on the couch with the winter sun streaming through the window and lived each day in slow feeding mode. Some days I craved for a nap on my own and on those days I wished Isabella would sleep for longer in her own bassinet but now that I look back on it, those newborn days went by so fast that I don’t regret her sleeping on me one bit. On one particular day she fed for hours, like hours! I was so beside myself with exhaustion that I called a helpline to ensure nothing was wrong with my baby. The suggestion was that I just tuck her up in bed, leave the husband to settle her to sleep while I enjoy a nice long, hot shower by which time the baby will be sound asleep and all will be a box of roses. Well I can tell you that most definitely didn’t happen! Apart from almost ending in a divorce and all three of us being in such a state by the end of my ‘lovely’ shower, we decided it probably wasn’t the best decision. All in a day’s learning as a new mum right?! But looking back now, I wish I’d savoured those days where I spent most of the day on the couch feeding because now Isabella won’t stay still for that long and trying to get a long cuddle during the day is almost impossible! And also now that she is only feeding four or so times each day, I often miss my time with her breastfeeding like we did in those early days.

I absolutely LOVE being a mum, it is truly one of the most magical gifts I have ever been given. I could not or would not want to imagine my life without a little human in it. Isabella makes me so happy and I’m so incredibly proud to be her mum. It has also made me reflect on what my own mum did for me and my siblings, what she gave up to care for us and to ensure we had everything a little person could want and then some. We were loved, read to, entertained, well fed, encouraged, supported and immaculately dressed for special occasions (until I decided I wanted to dress myself from nana’s dress-up box!). When looking back on old family photos, mum was with us every step of the way, always willing us on to be our best selves. We were always taken out and taught how to interact with others, use our manners and birthday dinners of our choice were such a special family tradition it is one that I want to continue with Isabella.

When Isabella was just 10 weeks old, our lives were turned upside down when my mum suddenly became very unwell and was fighting for her life in Wellington hospital for almost three months. This meant that from 10 weeks onwards, with a baby in tow we travelled between home and Wellington to support mum in her fight to stay alive. Looking back now, life after that point is a bit of a blur between many, many tears , hospital rooms, surgeons, nurses, endless walking around the streets of Newtown with the pram for day naps away from home, breastfeeding anywhere and at any time and nappy changes in the craziest of places. In all honesty, if someone had told me I would become a mum for the very first time and then almost lose my own mum, I never would have believed them. Ever. Why is it until these events happen, we could never believe they would ever happen to us? But they do and they have and we are very lucky to still have mum albeit still away from home for now but fighting like a trooper and being such an amazing source of encouragement, determination and entertainment for us all, including Isabella. However, life from that moment in October 2016 has been drastically different for my family and will be forever onwards. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and find myself hoping and praying that this is all a bad dream and that in fact mum will be popping around home to see Isabella like she did for the first 10 weeks of her life. Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could just push stop and rewind on life and take back that day when things took an unexpected turn. Or sometimes I find myself wishing that I could relive specific occasions with mum just to make the most of it and to tell mum how amazing she is. You often don’t appreciate those small wonderful moments with those very dear to you until it is too late. But now I will never forget to tell mum how much I love her. I think I have only just come to appreciate all of those things mum did for me since becoming a mum myself. After housing a human for nine months, labouring them, nursing them and caring for their every need as they grow older, being a mum is an immensely challenging and rewarding role. And as Dr Seuss put it…

Someone told me a little while ago that David Attenborough thinks the most amazing creature on the planet is a 9-month-old baby and at this stage, I have to agree. It’s such a fun age. Every day is filled with so much fun and laughter. This little one is as busy as a bee and can work her way around the house like she’s been doing it forever. It’s just delightful to watch and hear her chat and giggle at the simplest of things, like the jug boiling in the morning, or watching steam rise up from my coffee cup or hearing the water coming through the tap in the kitchen sink. Such simple delights that I wouldn’t have given a second thought too had Isabella not smiled with glee or kicked her wee feet in pure excitement.

At this point, I should mention, sleep (or lack of it) is the one thing I have struggled with the most. It’s amazing what you can run on if you need too isn’t it? Sleeping in during the weekend or on a public holiday is most definitely a thing of the past and staying up late to watch a movie or go out will always lose out to an early night! I wouldn’t change anything for the world but if Isabella did want to sleep through the night (every night!); I certainly wouldn’t be complain about it. I have definitely found walking in the fresh air, a shower, a nourishing breakfast and my one daily coffee an absolute must after a sleep-deprived night. Oh and getting a lunchtime nap if at all possible to catch up on some extra rest. I understand that this is near impossible for mums of more than one child but hopefully you have a pair of hands that can help if you really need a 30-minute power nap. Never be afraid to ask for help.

Solids are certainly messy business – most mornings you’ll find me on my hands and knees cleaning food off the kitchen floor. But this little girl certainly enjoys her food (just like her mum and dad!). I’ve loved starting solids with Isabella and hope to write a wee blog on some of the foods and tricks I have found useful to nourish our thriving Buddha baby. But the one thing I have found is that I’ve been really relaxed about it all rather than following a specific guide. We’ve offered both purees/spoon-based foods and age-appropriate finger foods (baby-led-weaning style) since Isabella started solids and I’ve found tuning in with your baby and learning their cues and body language the most important of all.

I take my hat off to all solo parents who are taking care of precious humans without the support of a partner or family members as sometimes all you need is a 10-minute space of time to yourself. Just to be you and to do the things that you love doing! I don’t think any mum (or dad) should ever feel guilty about taking some time to just be. After all, you can’t take care of your baby to the best of your ability if you aren’t looking after yourself. Now that I’m back at work, we have found a lovely little routine that seems to be working and now the juggle is finding that balance between being a mum, and caring for a baby and taking care of all of those other things that I took care of before bubs arrived as well as continuing with a career. I imagine this is a life-long juggle but what an amazing juggle it is. For me, one of the best things I did was to invest in home-based care for Isabella where I know she is loved, cared for and well looked after. And above all, she is happy and thriving in other children’s company which has been amazing to watch. Those first few weeks of returning to work were so hard. I cried everyday walking back to the car and had to stop myself from turning around and running back to Isabella. Every moment I wasn’t with her, I ached for her to the point where I thought I would never survive being back at work. But gradually it became easier and Isabella has truly blossomed in the company of other children and adults.

Every parent will have a different experience of returning to work. I know many friends are just delighted with day care and others with home-based care so the most important thing is to find a solution that works for you and your little one and if you do need to return to work, find a place where they are nourished, loved and well looked after so you are both happy. I’ve found the time I have with Isabella after work so precious that I truly just enjoy playing and laying on the floor with her, rather than racing about trying to do jobs like I need to do in the morning (you know the ones…dishes, making the bed, washing, packing lunch). Being a mum has definitely made me appreciate all of the little things that I adored as a child…it’s almost like reliving your childhood. Every day I’m reminded of a childhood memory or experience and it’s just lovely.

So big ups to all of the mums and dads out there raising wonderful people of the future to contribute to society, to teach others, to learn from others, to share love, laughter and happiness with…Mum, I can't thank you enough for what you have taught me so far xx

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