Ever heard of baby fog? You know, the very real phenomenon of a woman who,post birth, embarks (mostly unknowingly) on a quest to find her sanity that she has been stripped of? That process of peeling away the old layers of her former self, as the new, bolder, stronger, and very probably, a loopier self emerges. She has a rocky path before her, one of finding her new “normal”.
There’s no denying that becoming a mother is an incredible transformation of a woman,(in fact becoming a parent, in general, so you too dads) but there’s also no denying that the adjustment can be rough at times. To put it mildly.
Even to the woman who, to the world it seems as if she has it all together, or that her ride wasn’t as rough as your’s, the truth is, you just don’t know what her personal journey is. You have no idea what her path was, and the challenges she may have faced. Whilst your’s might be financially based, others might be a psychological battle of PPD sending them into the depths of hell and back. Others, a physiological fight, like severe sleep deprivation which has affected every possible facet of their lives, in an unthinkable way. Or perhaps their cross to bear is a sick baby, whose tiny body has had to endure countless operations from the day they entered the world. Or even others who might have that “textbook perfect” baby, suffered no breastfeeding challenges, sleep deprivation, financial matters, or any of the whole bang lot, but has actually taken near a decade, and gone through an indescribable journey of pain just to conceive. The list is endless – and you just never know.
Our journeys are all so different, because we as mothers are all so different. However, we will always be united under the definitive fact of motherhood being an immensely intense and difficult transformation in some way, shape or form.
Don’t get me wrong, its one I know I’d choose over and over and over again in heartbeat, without a fraction of second’s hesitation. In fact, I know I’ve been asked several times by child-less people, why ,given all that one endures, would I do that to myself. And I have got to say, I have even more of flabbergasted question of, “why would you not?!” Not that, that is ever something I would ever ask anyone out loud, because I understand that we are all so different in our beliefs and desires. Having a child is not some sort of check box you need to tick because society has said so. Hell, no. There is a gross amount of sacrifice you willingly make as a parent –almost to the point where you no longer see it as a sacrifice at all. So it is certainly not some ideal that should be pushed on to people. And it is certainly a love that you would never understand until you, yourself become a mother.
The trouble is, we tend to forget about this adjustment that we’re constantly going through in our everday lives, as mothers. We still judge ourselves far too harshly. We still compare. We still berate. All because of human nature, or whatever it is, we find ourselves feeling less than good. Less than enough. Incapable. Lacking. Stumbling. Surviving. And even if you’re not comparing yourself to anyone, but you find you still bear an internal conflict that you seem to not be able to shake. Or even when there is seemingly no logical reason we could pin point for these dark times, we judge ourselves even more so. Even if it is just for being down to begin with. (ohhhh, we will kill ourselves with that circular logic!)
And, I’ll bet that there’s no one who feels this more acutely, than a newborn mother!!! So I’m here,newborn mama, to let you know, not as a professional, but as a second time mom who feels you, and generally feels that she has just made it through that baby fog, that this is, unfortunately, all par for the course.
You may go through a range of feelings, you could be tippy toe on the ledge of bat-shit crazy, then go right off the edge, only to come right back. Other days you will walk John Travalota, feeling like king dingaling momma, like you’ve totally got this – (and you so do!). Only to come crashing down again into the reality that is motherhood and its endless curveballs.
You’re also probably going to have a happy helping of self-doubt too. With a few, “my God has forsaken me” moments. And the thing, yes, its all normal apparently. (And even if its not, by our sheer numbers as crazy biyatches, we now deem it as normal) 😉 Its normal to have self-doubt, but I promise you are going to figure it out! You will find your groove. And when you do, it’ll be magic! Nothing less.(Felt that way to me, at least.)
The first year of baby’s life is an intense one: For both you, and baby, and everyone involved. Whats crucial to note though is that it doesn’t stay this hard, and it DOES get better as the months and weeks roll on… Not plain sailing,mind you, but certainly less intense.
And when you finally feel it does, I can safely promise, it will always seem to end up being such a bitter–sweet time. Well, at least for me it does. Never again will baby be this dependant on you, never will you be so put upon and under such demand and stretched to beyond limits you never knew you had, as you are right now. Never will you, as a person, be so tested. But also never again, will baby this small, never again will you have these moments back, never again will….well, theres so many things!
Just with anything to do with babies, its not a hard and fast rule, but Ive read often that the average time it takes for a woman to shake this baby fog off is about 1 year (per child -so if you have triplets, you do the maths on that!)…I certainly experienced that with my first one. the second one I definitely started to feel more comfy recently in my new skin at about 1 year 4 months. So its not a set-in-stone kind of vibe, ladies.
To be honest, Im still trying to find a better fit – you know, make space for myself properly. It’s a constant work in progress. One that I keep at everyday, even if sometimes Im close to gnawing at my wrists for a swift death.
That year to find my new self, felt like it took forever this second time around.On the flip side, I felt like I wish I had more time to savour the babiness of my little Parker-Grace (whos now 17 months, talking in full sentences, already got actual jokes, and doing stunt dog tricks off the back of our couch and her cot)…and I’ll never get that chance back again. Only the incredible memories of those moments when I was truly present with her, is what I’ll have going forward.
But flip, even that is tricky sometimes-that whole being present thing. Sometimes you’re just too plain exhausted to even be that, right? Some days you may feel like all you can manage is just survive. But one day you will turn it into “thrive”. Just give yourself the space to go through the spectrum of emotions. Even the dark ones. I personally think its important. It’s a genuine feeling.(Who can tell you that which you’re feeling is not real?) As raw and as crap as it may feel, in my humble opinion, I think its necessary to acknowledge these emotions, and do your best to then release them.
So just my unsolicited two cents: do a little introspection to understand what it is that you need to surivive and be the best mother you can be, whilst discovering this new self of your’s. Eventually that survive will become thrive. Because, honestly, that person you were before is gone. (bear with me) You are ALL of that which you were, and now MORE! You’ve lost nothing, only gained, and now you’re on a path to just make that picture clear. For yourself.
How about you give yourself, time? Time to understand that it is an adjustment. Understand that it is a process. And that your child is adjusting right alongside you too. This is a new world she/he has been thrust into, with your as the guide. Some things you could teach them, somethings you’ll discover together. Remind yourself to take the time to be conscious of this, and to enjoy it….or to at least the embrace the raw emotions of the moment. Know that the struggle is not permanent, and this time is actually so short lived.(even though it feels like years)
There is no magic formula. Only patience – a virtue you’re about to get a massive lesson in, thanks to parenthood…Yes, patience with your children/child. Yes patience with your partner. But more overly patience with yourself.
This post is not about how its all worth it *cue sunshine and butterflies* – because you already KNOW it is. Ain’t nobody got to point that out to you. But its about those possible icky bits no one really says too much about to you when preparing for baby. And its certainly something one cannot completely prepare for in any case, other than know its coming, and thats its not just you.
The baby fog is real, mommas. And your struggle is real. With so much happening in such a short space of time, it can get intense! So just as I’ve suggested before, about breastfeeding and motherhood in general here, be kind. This extends to yourself too. You deserve this self-kindnes, and remind yourself of your unique journey that you’re on. At least that’s what helps me, anyway.