Today is the second day of August, the eighth month of the year. It’s almost a year to the day that I found out I was pregnant last year – that has simply flown. I sit here now with my gorgeous little man in my arms, accustomed to sleep deprivation, able to make up bottles with one hand and no longer disgusted by much of anything that may get on my person – dealing with baby explosions of all types will do that to you. Back then I was pure terrified – 21, not feeling like a grown up at all, much less a responsible one who would be in charge of making sure someone else had a good life. (To be fair, not much has changed there. Mammy guilt is ever present.)
A full year has gone by since that test changed from “Waiting” to “Pregnant”, and my life changed forever one August day.
I didn’t know then just how in love I could be with someone who refused to let me sleep, or sit still, or let me have my freedoms I had before.
I didn’t know how much my life would change – of course I knew it was going to be different but not by how much, I completely underestimated that.
I didn’t realise that my body and pregnancy simply would not get along, from the horrible levels of morning sickness that started on my 22nd birthday, to the gorgeous stretch marks that appeared Christmas morning, to the super high blood pressure ending in pre-eclampsia (am I an advert for glowing pregnancy or what?).
I didn’t realise how it’d impact on my mental health, the sleep deprivation, the hormones – and the fact that health professionals kept telling me that due to certain factors I would almost certainly wind up with post natal depression didn’t help! Their advice to me was to read up on it in an attempt to combat it – something I didn’t get behind at all. In my head, I knew the signs, so extra reading wasn’t necessary and was unlikely to make a difference.
There are so many things I didn’t know then that I know now. The importance of always having a packet of Rennie on you while pregnant, of the importance of always having baby wipes on you when you’ve got a newborn. I am a wiser, changed person than I was before.
I’ve somehow become more organised – it’s always easier to be early or on time for things when you’ve been up and getting ready since 5am!
The importance of making sure baby boys can’t pee out of their nappy by keeping them pointing downwards – this one is an eternal struggle! It seems to be an eternal journey of discovery.
I had never realised how bad I was without sleep, though I was almost prepared for it by five weeks in hospital before he was born, being woken every three hours for a temp check or a dose of medication – even with waking up with a jolt to find a woman in white standing over me, it was a lot more gentle of a wake up call than the screams of a hungry newborn. I didn’t know how much I would love the bond that breastfeeding gave me with him, and how sad I would be to give it up when it turned out he wasn’t getting all he needed from me, despite getting a happier baby and thus a happier Mammy from the change. I didn’t know how amazing this whole thing would be, despite being the biggest endurance test of my life.
A year ago, there was so much I didn’t know. I’m sure that this time next year, at the August bank holiday weekend, I will look back and realise that right now, I don’t even know a fraction of what I should – so bring on the new experiences.
The learning has continued. Here are some Things I Learned In My First Year of Motherhood, and 10 More Things I’ve Learned as a Mammy.
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