It seems trite to say that when you have a baby (or babies) your life changes, because it just seems so obvious. Of course life is going to change. But no-one tells you that you might not like those changes.
We thought we were ready to start a family. It wasn’t on a whim, nor an accident. Ok, some things are left to Mother Nature so you can’t plan everything about your new family (in our case, having two children was a shock), but we’d sat down, considered it, and decided that if it happened, we were ready. So why, for the first few weeks, did I feel like my life had been stolen from me?
I had a pretty awesome life before getting pregnant, it’s true. A great job, a happy marriage, a full social life. I loved that we could travel when we felt like it, decide to have lazy Sunday brunches or late dinners on a whim, make plans at the last minute.
For that’s one of the biggest things that disappears when you have children – spontaneity. Now leaving the house is a military operation, social engagements have to be planned in advance and around nap and feed times. We can’t meet up with friends on a Sunday afternoon and then decide to stay out for dinner, because the babies have to be back home for bedtime.
For me, loss of spontaneity was a big deal. I’d read about new mothers feeling like milking machines, about the blurriness of getting up for a 3am feed, about the loneliness of being at home all day; but no-one mentioned that feeling unable to do anything on a whim is something to watch out for.
Somewhat conversely, the lack of control also got to me. Even a spontaneous life with an adult partner includes a certain amount of control – you can reason with each other, decide not to accompany each other to a boring drinks evening, explain that you’re feeling out of sorts and just want to curl up with a book. A baby, however, has no inkling of how tired mummy is, that mummy is in the middle of a meal, that mummy really just needs 10 minutes to take a shower. I used to think, pre-children, that these things were petty, that they paled in comparison to having a child. Looking at the big picture that might be (and probably is) true, but when you’re living it the inability to know that you can finish a cup of tea is frightening.
The third thing that no-one told me was how I would grieve for my old life. That I would need to go through a grieving process – very much the five stages of denial (that lasted a while), anger (it’s all your fault), bargaining (it would be so much easier having one baby at a time), depression (life is over) and finally acceptance. I’d assumed the joy of my new life would automatically negate any feelings of loss over my old life. I was wrong. Then I felt guilty for feeling like I’d lost something when I’d gained so much. But it just took time to work through it. It was just a phase. Shame no-one mentioned it beforehand.
This post has highlighted three things which I wish I knew about how my life would change. There are others. But I’m exhausted from being up with BabyBoy at 3am last night so will end this post now….