Life has a funny way of changing your perspective on things. For us, the idea of our family tree spreading didn’t start with that giggle and jiggle under the sheets. The drawn-out two-year conversation about whether it was the right time to start a family, hung like a cloud over us as we thrashed out the whys, the ifs and the buts. It was a long process. It’s the old story of I wanted kids, he wasn’t sure, I pushed the issue, he pushed back, and I won in the end.
It’s possible I should start off by the saying that you should really enjoy the baby making sessions because there may come a time when squeezing in more than a thirty second smooch becomes tedious. But that may put you off the idea of having kids and what would be the point of that. Let it be known, sex as a parent is both limited and glorious for all the obvious reasons. But when is the right time to add a baby to your daily grind?
My recovery was a long eighteen months combining so many actions on a daily basis to keep my head flying higher than the flamingo. What did I do?
I was once asked, on the radio no less to thousands of listeners, to describe what anxiety feels like. Where do you start? Anxiety isn’t simply a nervousness that makes you indecisive. I’m sure I’ll list off how I was feeling and any woman who has suffered will nod in agreement. It’s painful, physically painful. There is nausea, headaches and dizzy spells aside from the mental overload. It feels hopeless and it can pass before it hits you hard again. The lull and low of anxiety didn’t affect me all the time but it sure did like to linger and attack quickly.
Something transpired out of motherhood, rising from the ashes like a giant pink flamingo. It probably began earlier than I care to admit, but a few weeks after Devin was born, my focus was gone, my routine and schedule, all fragmented and I suddenly felt this overwhelming urge to blow up. It was less to do with the fact that we had a five-week-old baby and more to do with the extreme possibility I was suffering from intense postnatal anxiety and depression.
There are days, quite a lot of them, when I don’t feel like the adult in this Momma Bear, Baby Bear scenario. Allegra crept up to me one afternoon and wrapped her dainty arms around my legs and hugged me hard. The little mite, in her tiny years and few short feet, has grown up so much but still so desperately needs her Momma’s hugs. And I hope she always will. In that instant, as her arms squeezed me tight, I thought, dammit I needed that. I needed that hug. And I also thought, dammit I’m the Mum.
Sleep. Oh sleep, you wickedly wonderful, but often never had, state of being. I need my sleep. I needed sleep before kids. I need my sleep after kids. We all know how that story goes. Sleep becomes a distant memory and we challenge ourselves to find new ways to keep going until bedtime. Anything to make it to the finishing line and lay horizontal for a few minutes. Theres a trick to getting good sleep as a parent. Get help! With Little Beans sleeping pattern going from bad to worse I needed help!
When I became Momma Bear I swore I would never let my baby cry it out. It’s cruel and unkind. Babies are not mature enough to understand how to manipulate us. They simply want us. And Little Bean wants Momma. All the time. To the detriment of her sleep… and mine. But then I realised two things, I’m exhausted but more importantly…
Being Momma Bear has changed me. I’ve changed drastically and dramatically and for the better. We grow up, drag ourselves in to the world of adulthood and expect nothing. For some people things don’t change. They blend from one decade to the next with the same ideals and shoes. Others change quickly, become bigger, better versions of their younger selves. And then there are new parents. The change is sudden and immense. The growing up and learning is vast. Parenthood is like an affliction that changes the internal mechanisms of your body and brain – in a positive yet frightfully severe way. Has parenthood changed you?
How many times, as Momma Bear, as Papa Bear have you put your needs to the side? Dropped your needs over by the “side board of lost intentions” only to be remembered as you fall into bed, or as you sit on the loo with an audience complaining about being hungry, bored, tired or sore. How many times have you thought, yep I feel hungry, bored, tired and sore too, only for the thought to quickly evaporate as their needs outweigh yours? I wrote an article recently for the Irish Examiner about being an introverted mother and since writing this feature, I’ve relaxed a bit more and allow myself those five, ten, fifteen minutes – if I can get it – to regroup, refocus, to be still and recover from the never-ending exhaustion of a day with kids.