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  • Writer's pictureJessica Urlichs

The Things We/They Say

“Having a baby will fit into my lifestyle”

Well, I’d love to meet the mothers whose babies slotted right in. Sure they may bring you a sense of completion to your family, but ‘fitting in’? Were we the only ones who had to make room? If I’m not mistaken the stretch marks possibly were a give away that there would be a lot of room making in the future. There’s a broad statement, ‘motherhood doesn’t equal sacrifice’, BUT you WILL make sacrifices. I sure did, my baby couldn’t compromise, I did try having the conversation with him at 2:00am and then again at 3:00am about the importance of sleep, but it was lost in translation. Our mental wellbeing should never be at the expense of motherhood, but there are big changes coming when your name becomes Mum.. No one can prepare you for mourning for what once was when you’d never change what you have now. There have definitely been adjustments, just walk into our baby proofed, kindy looking lounge, just look at the bigger bed we had to buy, the bigger car.. they fit right into your dreams and take up a lot of room in reality, but its room you’ll gladly share, you’ll always make it for them.

“It’s the most rewarding job ever”

Yes, sure. But it also made work look like a walk in the park. As hubby would leave in the mornings I found myself getting a bit resentful. Wondering what it must be like to have an adult conversation, or enjoy a quiet commute, or have an actual designated lunch break. It almost got the point where he would try and tell me about his day I found it hard to listen, because why was I so jealous when THIS was the most rewarding job ever. Could it be that maybe I was allowed to be inlove with my baby but also sick and tired of poo and spew and no sleep? That my hormones were still everywhere and I was still tearful and unsure why it felt so hard when I kept hearing about how rewarding it all was. Clearly it was me, OBVIOUSLY I was doing something wrong. Or maybe it was just easier to see it that way when you were out of the fog?

“Enjoy every minute”.

I enjoyed many, MANY. But not all, it was impossible for me to enjoy all. That didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my baby it didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy being a mother. It just meant I didn’t enjoy the nights I was up every hour, suddenly turning on my husband because he was the easiest target. I didn’t enjoy the shards of glass slicing through my nipples with every latch and receiving messages after weeks of pain saying “keep going, it’s a bond like no other”. I had to stop in the end, did that mean our bond would be less? Oh god, have I ruined him? Will his IQ be shit now? I may as well just go buy him a size 5 Tee-shirt ready for school saying “I wasn’t breastfed”. Maybe later on in his teens he can get it tattooed to his forehead. I’m sure everyone will be just as interested then as they are now. I enjoyed more than I didn’t. But I wish someone told me it was OK not to enjoy every minute. Maybe then I wouldn’t have questioned myself so much.

“You’ll lose yourself in motherhood”

Yes, but its temporary.

I even bloody changed my profile picture to just my baby, I didn’t even appear in it! I was gone, poof, I’m a mum now, off with her hair.

But I think what doesn’t help with the whole “losing ourselves” is that we’re also bombarded by societies standards of what the perfect mother should look like. I’d scroll social media looking into tiny filtered windows of wooden toys or mums with blow waves while I sat there with my unwashed hair, surrounded by coloured crap, eating an old chip between the sofa cushions because it was easier than walking all the way to the bin.

Silky shirts became cotton and buttoned jeans became elastic track-pants. The books I loved reading became late night google searches. I felt weird about not earning money anymore yet here I was doing something no degree could ever prepare me for.

I found myself comparing my journey to others, I felt like a weed among the perfect manicured flowers on my feed, why was I aspiring to things that actually didn’t make me feel good?

A little voice in the back of my head would tell me I’d never be all those things, but I just didn’t realise how OK that was.

“Having a baby will bring you so much closer in your relationship”

Actually I closed a lot of doors. Except for the toilet door, that stayed open while one of us sat on it having conversations about the tasks ahead. I guess in some ways you could call that “close”.

In all honesty, yes we are closer (now) our love is stronger and we have also never felt a love that’s stronger for our children. But that is not to say we didn’t go through some hard times first. He was always my rock, I think it was me who drifted away a bit. I didn’t know how to be there for everyone, how to be theirs AND his. I somehow forgot that I could lean on him and shift the weight off me. I forgot we were friends and lovers and begun to feel like we were just parents now. I started thinking things like “so this is it”, and over time, over tears, over tired hugs in the hallway, over barely acknowledging each other as ships in the night. It then turned into “so this is love”, in the most fulfilling realisation.

“Embrace it”

I am. I embrace them, all hours of the night in fact!. There’s nothing that scares me more than a life that doesn’t look like this , but it’s still a shock to the system so being told to embrace something when you need time to process isn’t helpful. Eventually you’ll be cleaning the sink with your hand after you’ve washed some dishes and using wet wipes for everything, EVERYTHING and feeling as though your heart has been ripped from your chest when you’re away from them for the first time.

The more I talk about ALL aspects of motherhood, the more I actually CAN embrace all that motherhood encompasses. I think it was the ‘Me in Mum’ that took longer to embrace, even though they embraced me right from the start. They needed me just as I was.

I learnt how to do that through them, not because someone told me to.

I learnt a lot through them, most of it actually.

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