I don’t think there’s any other change in life as profound as motherhood. From the moment that baby is born, nothing is ever the same again. Everything changes. I’ve realised though that becoming a mother doesn’t happen in the instant the baby is born. Rather, it’s a process. It’s a gradual transformation that occurs on every level of your being. And while it’s the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had, it’s also been uncomfortable and hard at the same time, I guess like all deep-seated change is. Of course I didn’t expect it to be easy but I didn’t quite anticipate how much it would challenge me to my very core.
Of course, I could easily gush about the overwhelming joy that Evie has brought me (I love her so much it feels paralyzing), but I wanted instead to shine a light on the way motherhood has challenged and changed me. From feeling disconnected from others to losing my sense of self, these are some of the most uncomfortable realisations I’ve had since becoming a mother.
10 uncomfortable realisations I’ve had since becoming a mother:
1. I thought I was prepared but I actually had no idea
When I was pregnant, I basically spent the whole nine months ‘preparing’ for this baby. I read a stack of books on everything from birth to settling, breastfeeding to sleep, attended classes and watched Youtube videos galore. By the time my due date came around, I was so ready and felt so prepared. Or so I thought.
Within weeks I’d come to the halting realisation that I actually had no clue. From breast and bottle feeding in the early months to introducing solids, separation anxiety and sleep regressions in recent months, there’s a new challenge around every corner. No amount of reading could ever have prepared me for the reality of caring for a baby and her constantly shifting needs. I’ve had to figure it all out as I’ve gone along.
2. I’ve felt disconnected from others
Motherhood can be a lonely place and in the months since Evie was born, I’ve often felt like I’m on a completely different wavelength to those around me. I’ve felt so consumed by the trials, tribulations and extreme joys of early parenting that I’ve felt it has overshadowed everything else in life. Sometimes when catching up with others, I’ve felt like I don’t have anything interesting to say. I do my best to try and ask the right questions and not talk about Evie non-stop. I’m sure no one is that interested in how she napped that day or the new cute thing she’s started doing.
3. I feel guilty about taking ‘me’ time
Because I always put Evie first, it’s been hard for me to go and do things for myself without feeling guilty and selfish. I know that she feels the most secure and happy when she’s by my side so when I leave her, I know she’s wondering where I am. It’s really hard to put the guilt aside and spend time without her even though I need it to recharge my batteries. I know I’m a better mother if I look after myself by taking the time to go to a yoga class or by treating myself a manicure. I come home and feel rejuvenated. I still feel guilty the whole time I’m away but I know she’s in safe hands so I try hard to enjoy the moment. I also know that it’s good for her to spend time with others as it helps with her social and emotional development.
4. I lost my sense of self
Becoming a parent is such an intense transition. You’ve spent so many years focusing solely on your own needs, goals and aspirations. And from the moment you become a mother, everything about your old life and self gets put on the backburner and you devote yourself entirely to this perfect, tiny human and her needs. It’s very easy to lose your sense of self during this time, which is what happened to me.
For the last eight months, everything has revolved around Evie: her health, her sleep, her routine, her development. I don’t do anything spontaneously anymore – from the moment she was born, everything has been planned and considered. I’m only working in a very small capacity right now and it’s been very hard to find the time to blog. Pregnancy also took a big toll on my body and I’ve been dealing with a recurring knee injury which has made exercising difficult. There are a lot of things that used to play a big part of my life that I haven’t been able to focus on.
Becoming a mother has been the greatest change of my life and I think I’m still adapting and adjusting. I read somewhere that it can take up to a year to fully adjust. So I know that in time I’ll find myself again… or perhaps I won’t. Maybe I’ll find someone new instead. Rachel 2.0.
5. I feel like an imposter mum a lot of the time
Evie’s almost nine months old, so surely by now I should feel like I know what I’m doing? I haven’t got a clue. I’m muddling my way through every single day. I google everything and have zero confidence in even basic things like maneuvering the pram through squeezy places. Surely, its super obvious to others that I’m an imposter masquerading as a mother. I feel like Evie knows too but she’s cutting me a break because she’s learning everything by trial and error too. We’re in it together babe!
6. The world doesn’t revolve around her
As a mother, because this tiny, perfect person is the centre of your universe, it’s easy to think that it should be that way for everyone else too. So when you’re shushing an overtired baby in the carrier, desperately trying to get her to sleep, and a pair of joggers pass and laugh REALLY loudly and disturb her, you feel a bubbling rage deep inside. How inconsiderate! Clearly, they could see that I was trying to get a baby to sleep! How rude!
Or when little kids ride past on scooters and set the nearby dog off into a barking frenzy, waking your baby after a short 30 minutes, it’s easy to fly out and tell them they need to keep it down! Shh! There’s a baby sleeping! Go and play somewhere else! It’s crazy how intensely I feel these emotions but I know that it’s just hormones and I need to keep a lid on it.
7. I can’t ever take enough photos of my child
My camera roll that was previously full of travel snaps, food and coffee has been replaced by a gazillion pictures and videos of my baby. There’s often about four or five snaps of the same moment too, reflecting my attempts to capture the cutest shot. At night, Ben and I compare the photos and videos we got that day, smiling and laughing at how funny she is and still wondering how she can be so perfect. I share a little snapshot of it on Instagram stories but hope I don’t overshare. I can definitely see how easy it is to do now.
8. The world feels a lot scarier than it once did
Every time we venture out into the world, my mind flits through different scenarios that could happen that could result in Evie being hurt. I’m much more cautious and aware of my surroundings now that I have a baby. When crossing a busy intersection, I make sure that I stand behind a traffic pole so that it would shield us in case a car lost control and came speeding towards us. I’ve also noticed that random people on the street often like to reach out and touch her without asking so I’m always wary of that. I avoid taking her on the tram because it’s flu season and we all know that public transport is a breeding ground for germs.
I think this is a protective instinct and also a result of how a parent’s brain is wired. I was listening to a podcast recently that discussed the neuroplasticity of the maternal brain and how it changes to become hyper-vigilant when your baby is born. It’s a mechanism to ensure your offspring survive. I was worried I was just being paranoid but it turns out it’s actually a thing, which makes me feel better.
9. I feel like I’m letting the ball drop in most aspects of my life
Parenting is often described as being a delicate juggling act but it’s not until you have a baby of your own that you actually realise how hard it is to not drop a ball. While I try to be the best mother I can be, I feel like I’m doing a bad job in most other areas of my life. Work, exercise, relationships, cleaning – you name it – I feel like I’m doing a crappy job at literally everything else. It’s hard not to feel out of control.
10. It doesn’t get easier as they get older
When Evie was smaller, I felt like there was never any time to get anything done (work, cleaning, life admin, anything except caring for her). She’d always be needing a bottle or a sleep and it was like that on repeat all day long. I used to think that things would get much easier as she got older and needed fewer bottles and naps. What I now realise though is that it will ever get easier, just different. Every stage is beautiful and challenging in its own way but just as intense.
The time I would have spent preparing bottles or getting her down for a sleep is now spent thinking about her meals, feeding solids and cleaning up after her. There’s no more time in the day than there was before, it’s just now shifted to different things.
I know with time she won’t be so dependent on me and I’ll really miss these days when I was her whole world. Everyone always says how fast it goes by. So for now, as hard as it is, I’m trying my best to remove all expectations and surrender myself wholly to this new stage in all of its complexity.
Looking to read more about my motherhood journey? Read these next:
- Evie’s Birth Story
- A Little Note on Where I’ve Been Lately
- Travelling with a Newborn vs a 3-Month-Old: The Main Differences
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Any mamas out there relate to these feelings? Let me know in the comments.