While I was pregnant, I thought I had all the answers. I also thought that being pregnant was the most exhausted I would ever feel... Wahahahaha (snorting while laughing).
I am not too sure if I'll be able to write this about the second year of motherhood because already I'm witnessing some pretty impressive tantrums and general toddler moodiness and fussiness, so I thought I better write this article before things go completely pear-shaped.
Here we go-
Accept your new body. Sadly my stomach didn't just pop back like in the movies. Why not?? I feel like this is total false advertising. In fact, if I'm brutally honest, everything seems to be heading south at a rate at which I'm not entirely comfortable. When I first had Nunu, I was breastfeeding and I felt great about myself as my weight dropped off. When I stopped breastfeeding, my metabolism seemed to stop functioning and gave up on itself completely AND I suddenly had the raging urge to inhale anything and everything edible. It was a slow process, but I now accept who I am. I have stretch marks, I have rolls, I have pimples... but this is me. I accept it. Because those things make up a very small part of who I am as a person.
Sleep (the lack of) I don't think I have ever drank as much coffee as I have this year. Nunu's birth coincided with the purchase of a new Nespresso machine and that little lump of electronic plastic helped me through some pretty dark days. A tip from my dear old mom - never count the hours of sleep you get as it will drive you crazy. A great tip, because harping on the fact that you have only had 3 hours of sleep and have a huge presentation in the morning does not help with anxiety levels. I have finally accepted the sleep situation and am grateful for those rare nights that Nunu sleeps through. (Key word: RARE)
The dark days do end. I did not suffer from PND. If you suspect you are suffering from PND, or you suspect a friend may be, please know that there are people who are there to help. I personally suffered from the commonly known Baby Blues which I think are discussed half jokingly between some moms... THIS IS A REAL THING. I did not acknowledge how utterly suffocating these feelings were until I later reflected on those first few months of having a newborn for which to care. I remember feeling like I HAD to be happy, that people expected me to be gloriously satisfied with life and to be handling motherhood like a pro. I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility and that my freedom as an independent adult had been taken from me. Often, while on maternity leave, Hubby would come home after a day at work and I would still be sitting in my pyjamas, unshowered and depressed. Moms, I'm here to reassure you that it does get easier. You learn to cope better, baby starts interacting with you more and suddenly life starts to seem bearable again.
Ignore the "Know It Alls" and Mommy Shamers. They lurk everywhere. Just waiting to tell you where you've gone wrong and what you should be doing. You do it YOUR way. You are their mother, not them! You have instincts directly related to your OWN child. I refuse to be made to feel guilty about decisions I make about my own child's well-being.
Don't compare your baby to others. I'm guilty. I stressed when Nunu had not reached a milestone that others had. I fretted that he wasn't sitting / crawling / standing. I now realize... they ALL get there in their own time. Patience and acceptance of your child's developmental pace is key.
Find your mom tribe. I found my tribe at a mom's circle at our local hospital. There were weekly meetings where we could download and speak honestly amongst one another. We now have a Whatsapp group and stay connected. We ask questions and give general support. Nunu also joined a little music class and these fellow moms have become my go-to gals in times of need. I am also lucky as my best friend had her baby just months apart from me, so we can cry on each others shoulders and offer each other support.
Take time out for yourself. Momming is hard. You can't keep giving to others when you have nothing left within. Take care of yourself and remember to make time for this.
I hope my list helps a teeny tiny bit. I honestly felt myself relax when my baby turned 6 months and I could actually interact with him. Those few days are tough, but by sharing your journey with others and remaining strong in who you are as an individual, they do get easier.