Is comparison the thief of joy? When it comes to parenting it would appear it absolutely is, or so says Suzanne Kane.
I’m in the Mammy game three and a half years now, four if you include the pregnancy and I just want to let you know you’re doing great. So don’t compare yourself to others, just do you.
You see, I didn’t have the introduction to motherhood like the one I’d seen in magazines, on TV or online or heard lots of mams describe. I found it really, really hard, I struggled emotionally, physically and mentally.
I’d been warned about the baby blues and thankfully now we have conversations and support networks out there for post natal depression, but I felt like I didn’t fall into either category. I now refer to them as the Baby Navies, not light enough to be baby blues but not dark enough to be PND.
Let me try to explain
On my last day of work, while trying to get everything done - because god forbid I left anything unfinished - I was having what I thought to be Braxton Hicks. My lack of medical knowledge spilled, literally, into that evening and night as I thought I'd wet myself. Welcome to late pregnancy, where every sneeze is a chance of a small bit of wee. Turns out the wet was my water, and the hicks were labour pains. It was not the beginning of labour American sitcoms had promised me.
That lead to a cranky drive to the hospital telling my husband, Joey that it was a pointless trip and that I was “too tired for this shit”.
Two hours later I was admitted and was sitting sobbing on a hospital bed being consoled by a nurse who was clearly accustomed to hormonal pregnant ladies.
I was in labour for 48 hours and was shell shocked when Oisin arrived. I was exhausted, had lost a good bit of blood in labour and was in fair bit of pain. The nurse took Oisin for me and let me sleep, I was so thankful. At 6am the next morning, he was brought back into me. I was a little less foggy and I just sat there looking at him. He was bruised from his arrival but even then, he was so peaceful and placid. I, on the other hand was terrified of him. This is probably when the blue hue started to set in.
The next day started out so well, I felt a little more human and we were heading home, getting both Oisin and I discharged took some a few hours and by the time we were ready to go, I wasn’t as euphoric as I thought I should be.
I was so overwhelmed with emotion getting ready to leave the hospital. I cried the whole way home. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I wasn’t the picture perfect new mam who was staring blissfully at their new arrival.
What was wrong with me? What was this shit? Why wasn't I fawning over this tiny person and completely in awe of his tiny toes and little button nose. I had none of that, I wanted to crawl into bed with Joey and hide from the world.
This is when I learned the valuable lesson of talking and asking for help and advice. I rang one of my closest friends, a mam of two, she knew the deal.
She answered cheerily and asked how I was, I tried to open the conversation in a upbeat tone, but my emotional state decided to intervene and I made whale like noises down the phone as the tears flowed.
We talked for a while, I sat into bed still full of swirling hormones but a little less overwhelmed. The next few days were not those of a celebrity magazine shoot. They were more survival.
The hormones got better over the days and weeks while my body began to heal and I began to get a handle of things.
Seeing through the fog
And by handle, I mean I tread water. I didn’t really want to see anyone and after one or two visitors we decided to take a bit of time out to adjust. We just wrapped ourselves up in our new-born baby bubble. It was like a protective layer for me to heal and for Joey to protect.
Even when we left the bubble, I was still baby navy crazy. Holding Oisin was off limits to most people, honestly this is where my head was. I didn’t like him handled or disrupted. I would feed him, because no one else was capable. I would freak about rooms being too warm or a jumper too scratchy. This is a true story, I actually googled wool scratch on newborns skin. Again, I reiterate, not in a great place.
Anyway, as the weeks turned into months I got a handle on being a new mam, the challenges it brought with it and the new relationship with my son. My Son. How mad that was to say?
It took some time for it to sink in, this little person, who in the first few days felt like an intruder, completely consumed every inch of our home and even more so, our lives.
We got to know each other, I didn’t experience that instant overwhelming gush that so many mams speak about. I knew I loved him, I knew I wanted him so much, but it just took time.
Oisín was figuring out the world and I was just figuring out, well, everything. I followed strict schedules, and that worked for us and for me. Ois followed routine really well; his sister to follow wouldn’t prove as easy going. But Ois was chilled and as naff as it sounds, he helped me out.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened but I do remember when that gush of all consuming love filled me. I had been in such a daze, it lifted and I saw my beautiful little boy.
Two years later, Hannah arrived and joined the madness. Her birth was gentle and she gave me those precious days I had missed in the haze of Oisín’s arrival. She doesn’t stick to schedules, rules and is her own person. The learning begins all over again.
So here we are Oisín is three and a half, I want to freeze time it’s whizzing by too fast, meanwhile his little sister, Hannah can buy and sell us and she’s only one and a half. I see trouble ahead.
So Mam’s; take today to contemplate the moments when you couldn’t catch your breath, the temper tantrum you survived, the long nights with teeth, temperatures and lack of sleep or the hiding in the toilet for two moments to just be silent.
Then stop, think and celebrate every moment you get with these children, however old or young, that call you Mam, Mammy, Mum, Mom, Mamma because; they're the ones who make Motherhood ever so special and remember you’re doing a brilliant job.