I’d suffered a traumatic birth after an emergency section, with only a week’s maternity leave (mostly spent in and out of hospital) and a baby who arrived by force within hours of being induced.
Like Oliver himself, I just wasn’t ready for his entrance, either.
Is anyone ever ready for motherhood, though? Probably not.
Maybe though, the women whose babies don’t arrive early or via c-section experience more of an adjustment period somehow. Perhaps that’s what labour is? Somewhat of a rights of passage you go through to help you transition from being a pregnant woman to a mother with babe in arms. I don’t know. My pondering does not by any means discredit c-sections either. A birth is a birth, but it’s the urgent, crash, emergency part of a section that shocked me beyond belief.
I didn’t feel that way when I had an elective with Alexander. I mentally prepared myself for that and it was calm and beautiful. The birth I wish I’d had with Oliver.
Anyway, I digress. In all the worry, confusion, relief and love I felt when Oliver arrived, the biggest fear I had, the one which eclipsed all others was that I wasn’t a good enough mum, nor would I ever be. It was a cocktail of feeling clueless, out of my depth and overwhelmed.
I told myself that a good mum wouldn’t have failed her son (I had a pregnancy related liver condition that led to the section)…a good mum wouldn’t feel sh** at that moment in time (the supposedly happiest of my life), a good mum would be like the ones I’d so often seen in the movies bursting with joy at their baby’s arrived, not afraid for the future.
What a load of baloney.
Thank goodness for social media, blogs and vlogs that (eventually) told me I wasn’t alone. Whilst there weren’t many parenting bloggers out there at the time, I was one of the first, connecting with like-minded mums, and later dads, firstly on Twitter and then elsewhere online showed me my feelings were common. That birth, whichever the way a child was born, could lead to feelings of inadequacy, shock and depression.
This blog, social media, reaching out to friends and family, and a great therapist, pieced me back together again.
Then what happened? Like other parents I just got on with it, I learnt how to be a mum on the job as we all do.
I became accustomed to my new normal: life as a mum. The juggle, the hustle, the work/life balance and so often, the imbalance. I rediscovered my voice, identity and even style, rediscovering myself but transforming in the process too.
As with my creative career, I rarely look back and reflect on milestone, patting myself on the back. It’s not my style. I’m trying to more because it’s important to well being and self-worth; to feel proud of goals met and dreams being made but you’ll mostly find me cracking on towards the future.
Once a goal post is ticked off, another one pops up.
Whilst that’s wonderfully exciting and productive, I’m learning to live a little more slowly too. To find more time-out for me, for the family, to being a little more disconnected from tech when it’s time to wind down. My phone no longer owns me, it hasn’t for a long time.
I’ve found yoga again and feel more content than ever.
The upside to rushing less aside from rushing less (!) is the clarity I’ve found. In relishing the everyday more than before, I’ve realised that in those quieter times, standing by the sidelines cheering my sons on as they learn to swim, or inventing bedtime stories together, therein lies the magic -the times of our lives.
I’ve had an epiphany if you like, bo doubt coming about about in between de-nitting my kids’ hair (again) and running around making school pick-up in between deadlines and roasting legs of lamb, that, flipping heck, I’m a good mum.
Let me write that in caps. I’M A GOOD MUM. Yes, I am.
If only I had a time travel machine and could tell my frightened 27 year old self that this is how life would turn out. That things would be OK. That one day I’d feel like the mum in the movies (well not quite) but that I’d feel like a good mum and that everything would turn out alright.