Resilience – how I survived the transition to motherhood
Resilience “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”. Oxford English Dictionary
When I birthed my son, in my ideal birth setting, on his due date, with everything going to plan, including a perfect pregnancy, I just presumed that the rest of my life, as a planned, organised, alpha type female, would continue as normal, and that my little boy would just slot in.
I was beyond frustrated when, I couldn’t keep my house as clean and tidy as it once was, or shower every morning at the same time, or just go out, without worrying about taking all the baby paraphernalia and it taking almost 2 hours to leave the house!
Instead of embracing the change, I refused to let this child interfere with my work, insisting that I go back full-time to my midwifery job when he was 8 months old. Things worked out OK, but I didn’t realise at the time, that I hadn’t fully accepted my new role as a mother, until baby number two came along two years later.
My pregnancy with her was a different story. It was not so straightforward, with a high risk screening result and and then showing up larger than expected on the growth scans. I was unable to sit down or eat much past lunchtime, and was in a lot of pain, because she was taking up so much room inside me! Her birth was fairly straight forward, a bit of a squeeze at the end (she was 9lbs 4oz!), but I felt like I had been hit by a hundred buggies afterwards! It took me a lot longer to recover physically and emotionally, and she put me and my husband through a lot more in the first 6 months than my easy going son.
It took me over 2 years from having my first child, to fully accept I was a mum, and, that with this role, came a whole load of stuff that flipped my world into another universe. My life wouldn’t and couldn’t be like it was 3 years before. Even though these babies were my calling, and I had always dreamed of having children, I had not really dreamt of what it would be like to be a mum. A full on, hyper vigilant, twenty four seven, one hundred miles an hour ride, that gives no free holidays and hardly any time for time out.
This acceptance helped me to adjust my focus, and shift my priorities. This way I could develop a resilience to motherhood, than helped me to be a stronger version of myself, rather than this overwhelmed and sometimes crazy mama, who felt, at times, like her world was falling apart. I accepted my role, and got stuck in! I feel more in charge, simply because I let go a bit more. Simple really, but it took a while for me to get there.
Recently, I have become conscious of the fact that in order for me to thrive, I surround myself with resilient women. Many of my friends and colleagues have endured some really arduous times, or put themselves up for challenges that most would find harrowing. These women live their lives vibrantly and with purpose.
I feel so very proud of these women who face challenges and come out the other side feeling a renewed sense of capability and strength. They support me and empower me to continue to be myself. These are the women I need and want around me for both the great and the hard times. A big thank you to these wonder women, you know who you are.
So, if you are a new mum, and find the whole concept of motherhood a complete mind blowing mission, then my advice on this life experience is to work on the following:
- Mix with your tribe that give you what you need to do well, in any situation that life throws at you.
- Adapt to the change and relax more about the things you can not change (Like going to the toilet alone!)
- Have time out from the daily rituals where you can ‘just be’ and focus your mind on things outside of your situation.
- Know that your vulnerable moments where you feel exposed, showcases a side that is respected and loved, and helps others to connect with you.
- Rejoice in your renewed sense of self. Be able to reflect on all your experiences and feel glad for the opportunities and growth from them.
Lauren Tamm is a wife and mother who wrote a great blog about what resilient mothers do differently. It’s written on a level that I totally connected with. Reading about another woman’s experience, and relating to context of the story was so enlightening. It helped me to understand why my transition to motherhood was not as natural as I has thought it would be and helped to normalise my experience. Read her blog here .