When you have a baby (actually from the second you announce that you're pregnant) people offer you advice. What you should and should not been doing, what you should and should not be eating, what you should be buying and every other little nuance of child rearing is talked about at length. You find that what used to just be your life has now become public fodder for discussion, from friends, acquaintances and anyone else who might make some kind of passing eye contact with you in the street. I found all this information really hard to take in. It just made me feel like there was some secret mummy club full of women who knew what they were doing and how to look after a small person and I wasn't in it.
Having this small noisy little person in my house was difficult on so many levels. Not least of all because I had felt him growing inside me. I had felt his kicks and hiccups and I had waited for daily reminders that he was moving and growing inside me. Now here he was in front of me, he belonged to me and I was responsible for him but I felt like I had absolutely no control over the situation.
I began to wonder when I would feel like I was in charge again or at least know what the hell I was doing and be able to plan for what would be happening next. People told me over and over that it would take time, around twelve weeks to get into some kind of routine. Then I would feel more confident in what I was doing. But that deadline came and went and I still felt like I was just treading water and I was just so very, very tired.
In the first few weeks of my child's existence we were too scared to take him out in public. I was so worried that we would get to a shopping centre and he would cry and people would stare and I wouldn't know what to do and then I would be a failure and it would be public. So I went for walks around the block instead. I'd rug him up and put him the pram and just walk.
I looked down at his small little body, with his delicate features and tiny little hands and wonder what life had in store for him. I wondered what he would be like when he grew up, what would he look like, what would he achieve in the world. Then one day a little while after that twelve week mark I looked down at his little face and I didn't feel so disconnected anymore, I still didn't feel in control of the situation but I was not unhappy that I was his Mum. It was the very first time I had felt like that and it was amazing.
I did eventually take him out in public and it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. The shopping centres were filled with light and sound and noise and one little woman with a small baby in a pram was hardly even noticed. My biggest problem was establishing where the baby change rooms and feeding rooms were situated in the centre and once they were found it wasn't as daunting as I had ever built it up to be.
Drew's first bath (not my hairy arms - in case you were wondering)
Some people are born to be mothers. They dream of a day when they will have a little person to care for and love and they feel that their lives will be complete when this happens. I am not one of those people.
I never had any interest in these small, noisy, loud creatures and to be honest, could not understand what anyone else saw in them either. So the way in which my life had completely changed course by actually having just had a baby was set to become one of the most difficult, stressful and confusing times of my life.
So there I was in the hospital after the birth of my first child wondering what the hell comes next. I had never changed a nappy, I had never bathed a baby, I had never felt so exhausted. People say (and I don't know what people, but you do hear this about the place) that when you have a baby you will instantly fall in love with it. You will feel so full of bliss and endorphins that you will immediately bond with this strange little person and wonder how you ever lived without it. Well, that didn't happen. I didn't feel like that. I felt overwhelmed, confused and seriously out of my depth.
People are very well meaning. They tell you things about your baby with the best of intentions. But all that does is make it more confusing and to be honest made me feel more like a failure. I didn't love this small noisy person more than life itself, I looked at it and wondered why on earth I had wanted to join the mummy club in the first place. After all, I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't even know where my life was headed. How could I now be responsible for someone else's?? Who thought this was a good idea and what the hell was I doing here in someone else's life?
Nobody tells you, you might feel like that. They say you will love it, they say it is magical, they say it is a miracle of life. So what was wrong with me that I was not revelling in that magic and rejoicing in the miracle of life? Nothing. Everyone feels different and that's ok. (I will skip ahead just for a moment and say things did get better...... eventually).
We named him Drew because I had always liked that name (in fact he was going to be Drew whether he was a boy or a girl) and it was an uncommon yet it wasn't odd (being a school teacher I am so over the oddly spelt, same sounding names and the just out there names - not cute and clever. Just annoying. Yep Millica - Oh, it's Mellissa .. I'm talking to you) and I held my little guy, like you are supposed to and people came to visit with flowers, toys, clothes and fruit (cause after that experience you really need the extra fibre to kick things off - if you get my drift) and I just felt weird and lost and a little bit like a fraud.
The nurses came in and out of the room, demonstrating how to bath him, how to wrap him and telling me how to take care of my stitches (somewhere you should never have stitches) and how to look after myself and then we were ready to go home. As the doctor came into our room to check and to sign everything off and the nurses picked Drew up and handed him to us and wished us well, I thought to myself, I can't believe they are letting us take a small person home with us, we don't even know what we're doing!! When you buy a dog at the pet store they suggest further reading and equipment you may need to purchase before you leave the store, where's the manual? How does this thing work?
I felt so unprepared for the journey we were about to embark on.... and I was.
I hope you are enjoying the Friday Flashback series Starting from Scratch and I would love to hear from you with any comments you would like to contribute.
As promised, I will be blogging a new series on Fridays, starting today!! Yay!! So if you are thinking about motherhood, about to become a mum or have just become a mum, then this is for you. Do not count yourself out if you having been doing this mum thing for a while either - come walk with me down mummy memory lane to where it all started. I promise to be straight-up about my experience of becoming a mum but know that it will not always be pretty (in truth, most of it won't be) but it will be honest.
So here we go ....
I have never been a very maternal person. This may come as a small shock now that the career page on my resume currently reads "stay at home mum" (God who saw that coming - I can honestly say I didn't) but that's how it is. I know people who LOVE babies, can't get enough of them, always want to cuddle other peoples and can't wait to have one of their own - yeah well, that wasn't me.
I never had any interest in babies or children. I did not want to hold them and I could not understand why people wanted to show me pictures of their sprogs when I was so clearly not interested. So the day I announced that my husband and I were expecting came as a BIG surprise to many (and yes, it was planned so I was not one of them). Prior to hitting 30 I thought having children was something other people did and I did not have the slightest interest in joining that club. Then one fine day (sometime after my 30th) it just hit me in the face that I might actually want to get involved in this whole parenting caper. Really, no-one was more surprised than me about this turn of events.
So, hubby and I talked it through. What were we doing? Could we afford it? Was this the right time for us? Was this the right thing at all? And we came to the conclusion that we were just going to give it a whirl anyway, regardless. The thing is, you spend most of your 20's partying (OK, maybe that was just me.. whatever) and trying not to get pregnant, so it goes without saying that once you start trying - it will just happen. At that time we had friends who desperately wanted children and had been trying without success for a fairly lengthy period. So I figured, if they wanted a baby so badly and it wasn't happening for them, maybe it wouldn't happen for us either. I had spent a good 16 years on the pill (yeah yeah, partying and trying not to get pregnant) so I thought this is probably going to take a while.
Being not so child friendly, my husband and I just decided to keep this change of heart about trying for a baby to ourselves until we knew what we were up against and the thing is ... it was very quick, much quicker than I had anticipated. So, when I went to the Doc's cause I kept throwing up, I thought it's probably a bug - which it kinda was.. really more of a parasite. Anyhoo, I rocked on up to the Doctors to be told that I was pregnant. Although we were scared, freaking out... and still vomiting we were kind of excited.
The thing is I knew my friend would be devastated and I wanted her to hear it from me, at home, so she could process it all, without an audience. It was one of the worst days of my life, telling her that we were expecting. Me, the woman who wasn't big on kids anyway, who wasn't really interested in babies, was telling her (someone who so desperately wanted to be a mum) that we were expecting. I know that it was heartbreaking for her. I knew it would be like a kick in the guts and understanding that and made me feel so sad that I was pregnant and she wasn't.
After that significant lowlight the pregnancy was filled with many highs..... (What! I think I was typing on autopilot for a moment there). It was crap. It was a crap experience and I did not enjoy being pregnant one bit. I know what you're thinking "what a selfish bloody cow - seeing as your friend wanted that so bad." Well before you jump on that - let me give you a glimpse into the future and tell you that it did happen for her and she now has two lovely girls.
So... back to me. Head in the toilet, feeling very sorry for myself. The thing is, people say "Oh, you should be happy about morning sickness. It means the baby is healthy and growing really well. It's a constant reminder that you're going to be a mum!!" Mind you these are people that aren't pulling over on their way to work to vomit by the side of the road.....
See you for more of flashback Friday next week - want to share some of your experiences?? Please do!!
I really wanted to do a post today about the joys of Spring. It was a lovely Spring day when I first thought of it, the sun was shining, my littlest guy was frolicking in the sun, flowers were blooming and I managed to get outside in Melbourne with only a three quarter sleeved shirt and no jacket!! Oh, I was so excited by the prospect of it all and then it seemed like it was over as quickly as it had begun.
So, today I walked to do the bus stop drop off and had to wear my usual two jackets just to keep the chilly wind from cutting me in half! I thought that I might still show you some of the images I had already taken on that lovely warm day and had planned on posting with a title like, 'What I love about Spring'. In the hope that it will encourage Spring weather to come on in full!! Here's hoping anyway!
I also wanted to let you know that I have decided to do something a little special with my Friday posts. I am going to start a weekly series about the joys of becoming a mother from scratch. You may perhaps be scratching your head at this point thinking, "Isn't that what you were already doing?" - and in some ways the answer would be yes. I was thinking about Motherhood the other day and how I got to be here (at this stage in my life, I mean...not as in, why are we here - the meaning of life and all that because I am really not sure on that one). Anyhoo, I have a few friends who are thinking about, or are already on the journey to Motherhood and it made me think about how I felt when I was at that point in my life. Hopeful, happy, nauseous, anxious, full of mood swings, tired and wondering what the hell I was doing!
So on Fridays I will be taking a little stroll down mummy memory lane and sharing with you from scratch all the way up to the trials and tribulations of a now two and a bit year old, and an almost ten year old. Who taught me a really valuable lesson last night.... but I will save that thought for another day.
I hope that you will join me on this journey and even pass my posts on to friends who are about to become Mums and want the facts straight from the horse's mouth, it's not all fairy bread and cute little feet padding about the house (not even close!).
I hope that you enjoy my images of Melbourne Spring (there are only a few .... I mean, I didn't get much time!).
What little person doesn't like playing with water once the weather warms up? Mind you this was his third attempt ... the first involved gumboots and the dog's water bowl.
Beautiful blossoms in our backyard.
I had to include this image of our dog Maisey because even she looked happy. Although, she wasn't thrilled about the water bowl and the gum boots.
Just a reminder too, if you don't want to miss a dose of Mother Load you can always join up and subscribe and get Mother Load delivered straight to your inbox! The subscribe box is now located at the top right hand side of the page and don't forget to confirm your subscription when it gives you the chance to so I know it's alright to send you my daily musings!
Have a wonderful weekend.