They told me being a parent is hard.
I chose it, I know. I’m not one to complain…
But it’s really fucking hard!
Throw in a long painful labour followed by a c-section and a colicky baby and it’s brutal.
About 2 years ago, I was 28. I had a pretty good lifestyle to keep myself sane and balanced. It consisted of work, a couple of swims a week, walking every day, seeing friends a couple of times a week, cooking for a couple of hours every day, seeing the occasional movie, doing the occasional impromptu pub visit. I went overseas every year or two.
It was at this time, we had been in our own house for 6 months and had been married for a year. So, my partner and I decided we were ready to have a baby. We were conservative in thinking it could take up to a year. Lots of people I know tried for quite some time, but “bam”, one month later I fell pregnant.
Happy as we were, I hadn’t thought ahead all that much.
Of course, I wanted a family, but I can’t say I was excited thinking about having to BE pregnant, take time off from my job in a small business and have to then return to work being way more time poor.
Off I went on maternity leave at 38 weeks pregnant
So, I had a caesarean and the baby had colic. It wasn’t fun for a number of months, but we got through it. My husband and I took 6 months off each and I’ve been back at work since December (2018).
A new kind of balance
Everyone tells you how hard having a kid is, and how much it changes your life. Yeah, I get that and I was prepared, but it just was so much more than that when it came down to it. Your mind works differently when you’re sleep deprived, recovering from surgery and have to breastfeed a baby that cries about 6 hours out of the day. I wasn’t surprised at the difficulties, but they just felt that much worse at the time.
So, we had a really tough first couple of months and gradual improvements from there. Our baby has just turned one and we’re at a point where 4ish hours of sleep is the average we get. I used to think I was stuffed if I didn’t get my 8 hours. Now I’m pretty ecstatic if I get more than 2 consecutive hours at a time. The body and mind are pretty adaptable when it comes down to it. We survived on an hour or two a night in the earlier months.
To add to the sleep deprivation, I went back to work at about 6 months after giving birth. My mind had to be in about 10 projects each day and I had to speak to about 20 people (our Digital Noir team and clients) on a weekly basis, then I’d go home and put on my ‘Mum’ hat. I basically have 2 jobs now. It’s a luxury if I manage to exercise or even if I get the chance to do the dishes. A trip to the movies or a drink at the pub is hard to come by. Who knows when I’ll next afford the time or money for an overseas adventure!
Here’s the thing, though. It’s different, but it’s still good.
In this new life of mine, I care for my child, I am fulfilled by my job and I take pleasure in the little things. I appreciate seeing friends more as that’s pretty rare (I hope they understand I still like them even if we only see each other every few months!). My son is hilarious. I love watching his personality and abilities grow every day.
Maybe I get a little less ‘freedom’ of lazy evenings out drinking wine or a holiday, but what is freedom anyway? I had the freedom to choose this, my new kind of adventure.