Before motherhood I underestimated the impact a baby would have on my day-to-day basis. Confident in the role I carved out for myself settled in my career and independence, I admittedly wasn’t prepared for how off-balance I was about to be thrown. I clung to the negative aspects of parenting, sleep deprivation, loneliness, helplessness, and sheer shock at how much a little person can wail.
As an American living in Australia, I knew I had a luxury I wouldn’t normally have back in the States, one-year maternity leave. Plagued with the guilt of what I knew so many of my friends and family wished they had, I was determined to take the full year. But the first year of motherhood didn’t come as easily as I thought. There were days when I wanted to quit and go back to work, thinking I didn’t have it in me to be a stay-at-home-mom. Moments when I cried so hard, I could see the fear in the eyes closest to me and times when it bought out the very best and worst in me.
What I have learned so far
Motherhood challenges you emotional, mentally, and physically. Becoming a mother was one of the hardest yet rewarding moments of my life. Having a hands-on baby tested every ounce of patience, taught me how strong I am, and how to fake it til you make it.
Motherhood is an identity crisis
Before I became a mother, living carefree was an understatement. With no real responsibilities, I drank, stayed up past midnight, and went where I wanted when I wanted. I had friends, hobbies, and was a regular at two different gyms. I slept eight peaceful hours a night. I identified myself through my education and job. I would spontaneously book multiple international trips times a year. I would spend my weekends’ hungover binge-watching Netflix.
But as it turns out babies don’t consider this sort of lifestyle acceptable.
In my first year of motherhood, I didn’t go back to the gym for six months, drink for ten months, and the only Netflix tv series I binge-watched was Working Moms, The Letdown, and Gilmore Girls. For the last year, I stayed at home with my daughter while my husband worked. I fed her, took her for walks, and photographed her in every single outfit. I went a bit crazy.
I resented my husband for his how little his life seemed to change. He helped care for our baby, all while working a full-time job, drinking with friends, and going to ruby games. He watched her on weekends, giving me time to myself to go to the gym or to grab a coffee in peace.
It took me nearly a year to understand that instead of being envious, I shouldn’t have abandoned my interests and hobbies in the first place. That sometimes, I need to put myself first. But mostly, accept that this is just a small portion of mine, and Kirra’s life and time will pass too quickly.
Two glasses of wine are really all you need
So long are the late nights out with a gin in tonic in one hand and a shot of tequila in the other. Aside from the fact that having a hangover is the absolute worst, alcohol isn’t the same, knowing you have a tiny person to care for 24/7. I can count on one finger how many times I’ve been hungover since labor. Collectively with pregnancy, that’s one time in twenty-one months, and all it took was one bottle of wine. Unless you can guarantee no baby for 24 hours, avoid being hungover at all costs.
Go Au Natural
Before having a baby, my blow-dryer, hair- straightener, and Tina, the nail tech were basically my best friends. Jokes aside, there comes the point in motherhood where you worry less how you look. Going au natural gives you the chance to get that natural balayage, grow out your eyebrows, and minimise the buildup of chemicals and toxins in your pores
You will sleep again
Some women get lucky and have amazing sleepers from the get-go. Others like me, forget what sleep is. At one point on your journey in motherhood, you might think you will never actually sleep again, that the bags under your eyes are permanent, and want to celebrate when you get FOUR hours of sleep. Every baby is different, there’s is no magic formula for when they will sleep through the night. Just know it will happen.
You have a newfound respect for parents
It is really hard to describe motherhood. It is one of those things you have to experience to fully understand. Before embarking on this incredible life-changing journey we were told stories of the good and the bad. But like any non-parent, we nodded our heads, smiled, and told ourselves it would be different. And it was. It was way worse.
Motherhood is hard enough without all the comments from the peanut gallery. So before you lay on your horn, judge other moms for misbehaving kids, or give unsolicited advice, know there’s more to it than what you see.
Multitasking is your new talent
Multitasking isn’t just motherhood advice; its motherhood survival. For those of us in the trenches, you know the realities of parenting. Whether it’s during the newborn stage, at six months, or one year, you find yourself having to balance a tiny human all while doing life. Vacuuming while holding a baby, easy, peeing with your child on your lap; done it, cooking dinner with your little one clutching your leg as their life depends on it; every night.
You learn to love your new body
It’s common to struggle with self-love and confidence after a baby. Having a baby changes everything; some of the most noticeable changes happen to your body. For some, your body doesn’t feel like your own, you may resent to and critique every change you see.
For me it was my new tummy pooch, asymmetrical breasts, and horizontal c-section scar.
Pregnancy and parenting taught me to be more conscious about what I put into my body, to appreciate self-care when I have time for it, and to trust the process of human reproduction. Sure I may not have my ideal perfect pre-pregnancy body back. But in one year, I grew a human, and this human used my body for survival. That’s pretty darn impressive if you ask me.