I always knew I wanted children but despite having two younger sisters to dote on I would never have been described as ‘maternal’. When friends and family used to offer for me to hold their baby I would nearly always decline. I was terrified of dropping the child, on their head no less. Plus anytime I did work up the courage the little one always turned red-faced and wailing within minutes. Baby-whisperer I was not. Yet, I knew that somewhere in me was a mother.
Pregnancy and I didn’t really get on so well. When I look back at those months before The Monster whirl-winded into our lives I see myself as ridiculously happy, content and glowing. Reality was more like emotional, excited and just a tiny bit terrified. From the moment those two pink lines popped up the questions began a relentless stampede through my hormone-laden mind. Would I bond with my baby? Would I love him? Was I ever going to ever get out of the house again, EVER? How would a baby impact my marriage? How the hell does breastfeeding actually work? And me, what about ME, who will I be once I am someones mother? Will those size 10 jeans fit over my ass ever again?
In an effort to quiet the internal questioning I planned, and read, and made lists. And when it was time to meet my baby I felt ready. At least I was completely ready to not be pregnant anymore.
Lachlan was born at 10.59 on Monday the 28th of June 2010 and at that moment I became a mother. I felt like I had just jumped out of a plane. Every synapse was alive and alert and ready. Ready for all that lay ahead and yet completely in the moment. Birth is an amazing thing. To be writhing in pain one moment and soaring with joy the next: life’s most strangely wonderful juxtaposition.
A few days later, amazed that we were actually allowed to take this tiny human with us, we returned home as a family. And everything felt different. Our wonderful obstetrician had warned me that the early days of motherhood were somewhat like being a cross between a dairy cow and a washing machine. Never have I been more thankful for a dryer than in those first few months of Lachie’s life. The kid could drink for QLD and vomit for Australia. Despite the puke covered EVERYTHING, we found our rhythm. Breastfeeding came fairly easily and babywearing, second nature. The days became weeks and before long I was counting Lachies age in months.
Looking back, the first year of The Monsters life felt much like survival. There was lots of love and joy sure, but also tears and desperation and feeling like I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. Except that a lot of the time I did. And when I didn’t we eventually figured it out. I didn’t fully prescribe to any one parenting style but instead took a little from each that seemed to fit within a general approach of ‘parenting with heart‘. When Lachie was hungry I fed him, when he was upset I held him and when he was tired, I tried, often in vain, to help him sleep.
I’ve heard many stories of new mothers being bombarded with unhelpful ‘advice’, which often felt like thinly veiled criticism. I was fortunate to be surrounded by support and some wonderful women; mothers. My mum, my mother in law, my sister in-law and one of my best girlfriends were all there when it got too much, when I needed to feel less like a crazy first-time mum and just slightly normal. And of course there was Troy. Finding his own feet as a new father he was always there to pick me up when I began to doubt and reassure my doubtful-mind that I was in fact a good mum.
The second year of Lachies life brought new challenges. As my baby turned in to a full-blown toddler the parenting landscape shifted. Milestones came thick and fast. Walking, running, talking, jumping, eating, and drinking. Each month past one, The Monster gained independence and with it came boundary pushing and meltdowns. And over the last year this is what has tested me most: figuring out how to nurture Lachies spirit while teaching him how the world works. Because sometimes, it seems, the two don’t go well together. I want him to be able to think creatively, and act freely but at the same time be able to be part of society which so often dictates rules and norms of behaviour incongruous to children. Like so many hurdles of the last two years we will figure this one out together, I’m sure.
With each year of motherhood comes new questions. But also answers. So to my big-bellied self I would say this: Your heart will burst with love for your baby and the bond between you? Instant and enduring. You will manage to get out of the house, even if sometimes it takes you an hour to do so. Your marriage will weather some storms but it will emerge intact, stronger. With some learning, breastfeeding will work. Those jeans will live to see another wear. And you? Well you will be changed indelibly, undoubtedly. But as Lachies mum you will be more ‘you’ than ever before.