The other day I asked my husband if he thought that motherhood had changed me. He said “yeah, you’re calmer and more patient”. That doesn’t sound like the stresshead I though I was. Am I still me? About 18 months ago, if you asked me to describe my life I would have said it was pretty free and easy. I had a job that was interesting and fulfilling, I had lost a load of weight and physically at least felt great, I had long highlighted blonde hair. Evenings were spent cooking something yummy or, if we were tired, in a local restaurant. We’d spend weekends in the pub or watching a good film on TV after a long lye-in, and the rest of the time was spent gazing at the beautiful view from our little flat.
If was to describe it now I would say that I look like, and often feel like, a sack of spuds. The highlights are pretty much gone (I would worried that maintaining them would harm my unborn baby); the food I eat is wolfed down on-the-go, a lye-in is now 7am, and weekends are spent alternating supervision of our little girl while we catch up on sleep or do the various jobs that need doing around our new house (our view is now of a huge roundabout). Watching a film only happens by accident and, though we do occasionally go to the pub with our daughter, there’s no room for the 6 or 7 pints that I could down in one sitting before.
I certainly don’t want to sound ungrateful. I passionately wanted this baby and I am thankful beyond belief that I have been blessed with this wonderful little person in my life. But it does get waring sometimes when I don’t seem to be able to find time to pluck my eyebrows, and it would be nice to be able to have a glass of wine of an evening without wondering whether it will stop me from breastfeeding later (sometimes, I admit, I take the hit and just give her a bottle – though I know that I’ll pay for it with a reduced supply the next time I want to feed…). And it would be nice to look in the mirror and not see rolls of fat and clothes covered in sick (I’m doing something about both, by the way).
Case in point – the other day it was our anniversary and my wonderful parents offered to babysit. Our daughter was sleeping in our room at their house. We went out – me wearing the best I could muster from my wardrobe – and perhaps got a little overexcited about our evening out and woke up at 5.30am to a screaming baby with raging hangovers. We can’t do that anymore.
I also have very mixed emotions about going back to work – financially we have no choice, by the way, but even if it was our personal belief is that nursery is the best choice for her. I am sooo looking forward to using my brain again (for something other than babies at least). I’m looking forward to wearing a suit and putting makeup on. I’m looking forward to seeing my work friends. I’m even looking forward to going into central London again. But the flip side to this is that I will never, ever, be able to spend the whole week looking after my little girl again. I may even miss her first steps or her first word – because she will be going to nursery 4 days per week in July. I won’t see her smiling at me as I cross a room. Or share in the delight on her face as she realises that she is going to be put on her play mat. The thought makes me feel physically sick and I’m afraid that she won’t love me as much as she does now.
I’m still not sure who I am. I know that I love being Hannah’s mummy. It’s what I was born for. And I would do anything for her. I mean it. But does that mean that I have lost my identity? The woman who enjoyed having a career, enjoyed nice meals and who wanted to look nice is still there and it’s tough not being her sometimes. I guess what I mean is that I’m still adjusting to motherhood. But if it was a choice between having my old life or having my little girl I know which decision I’d make. I guess that just means that the old me hasn’t gone at all – I’ve just evolved into something more fulfilled and, despite the sleepless nights, someone who is happier. I’m different, and I quite like the person who I’m evolving into. And I have my wonderful little girl to thank for that.