A reflection on having babies

Published in Vibrant Hutt magazine - Feb/Mar 2019

A lovely friend of mine has just had her first baby – an absolutely adorable boy. To be completely honest though, I find the baby stage quite stressful! I’m all fingers and thumbs, and these little souls so quickly pick up how awkward you’re feeling! Visiting and having a tiny, and quick, hug brought so much back to me and has really got me thinking!

My husband and I were absolutely the BEST parents before we had kids. We had it all sorted! Our children would eat everything we put in front of them, they would sleep through the night, they would fit around us, and all those other parents who let their kids run wild and eat chicken nuggets were, obviously, doing it wrong! Wow, we were so judgemental and fixed in our ways.

We were in our early thirties when we got pregnant with our first child; I was firmly embedded in my own business. I attended networking meetings (Rotary & BNI) twice a week at 7am and the other three days I was swimming. I’d be at meetings and functions at least twice a week in the evenings and worked right up until the day before I was induced. I was so naive! I had no idea what was coming and just how much my world was about to change.

The night my daughter was born I thought ‘wahoo, it’s night time, she’ll sleep, and I’ll be able to recover from the birth.’ I seriously had no clue I’d be up all night feeding and looking after this crying child. No time to recover here! It’s been 10 years, and I’ve almost caught up on my sleep deprivation.  

Having kids has made me such a better person! I look back on the pre-Mum me, and I’m horrified about the judgements I used to make about parents and their kids. But now, as many with children probably do, I smile at those people, who are like the old me – those ‘BEST parents’ who have never had kids and think ‘one day, maybe one day you’ll find out’.

One huge, amazing, personal change has been with my mental health; I thought I was ok before we had children, but it turns out I wasn’t. The pressure cooker of parenting showed a completely different story. It hit me so hard I broke and ended up going through years of postnatal depression. My world had turned upside down and I no longer fitted. I remember wanting to run away, to go back to how it was before the kids. Life felt tough. It also made me so completely determined to find a way out of that deep dark hole. I really didn’t even believe in depression until I got it! The happy part is it put me on a path I’d never have known about — the self-help path. There had to be a way through what I was feeling, and I was determined to find it!  

Roll on 10 years, and I’m the happiest I have ever been, I feel at peace, content in the life I have. I absolutely adore my kids (I never thought it was possible given how I was feeling before!) and, even though there have been challenges, my husband and I are in such an amazing space. We know we’re lucky to have each other.

Going from post-natal depression to peace and contentment was a LOT of work! It took dedication and commitment to keep going, acknowledge, and deal with, the reasons for my super strong, dark and heavy emotions.

I look back now and realise the journey through my depression was such a gift. It made me look at my life and make necessary changes so I could be truly happy. It wasn’t easy though.

I had no idea of the true reasons why I felt so awful. On the outside, you could say it was because my life had changed through having babies, but it actually shone a light on my whole pre-baby life too. The cracks which were tiny and barely noticeable all of a sudden became deep and unbearable. When I started looking at the emotions behind them, I found all sorts of hidden ‘stuff’ which I hadn’t realised had been causing me to feel so blinking awful!

Deep down I knew the causes, the things which made me feel out of alignment, but it took a heck-ton of guts to do something about them!

I’m so glad I did though! It has been worth it. And those babies of ours; they were a gift in many, many ways. I will continue to treasure them, for the limited time I have, before they head off on their adventures! Their life is theirs, and it’s our job, as their parents, to grow them into confident, resilient, independent adults able to handle their own emotions - wish me luck! ;)

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