If you’re like me, I romanticized motherhood way too much when I was still expecting my first child. Strolls in the park with my baby in the pram, story-telling, nursery rhymes, daily dose of cuddles and tucking him to bed where he would sleep all through the night and only wake up when the sun rises again – it all sounds so dreamy.
Fast forward to reality. Here is an honest account of an epic meltdown starring my first-born who was only 7 months old then.
I had just finished preparing his lunch and placed him in his high chair, but he displayed some discomfort. I sniffed his bum. He made a poop, and as all good mums do, proceeded to change his nappy.
As I unfastened his nappy in his makeshift change table, he decided to move about, which annoyed me because he just made a massive dump that would literally be all over our bedroom if I didn’t act fast enough.
I wrestled with him while wiping his bum, applying a bum balm, getting his new nappy in and putting his limbs back in the appropriate sockets of his bodysuit. All the while I was thinking, this is too hard, and this is just a slice of the daily nuances of being a first-time mother.
He was also getting frustrated with me because he wanted to explore the contents of his nappy change trolley and I had to take away the spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol that he was about to put in his mouth. I think this was what triggered the full blown wail.
I left him in his cot because I had to make a wee, while he exercised his lungs by crying even louder. I l picked him up to distract him.
I placed him in his play pen. More wailing.
I placed him in his high chair. More wailing.
I turned the tv on to play his favourite show. More wailing.
I found myself switching the lyrics of his favourite nursery rhymes to swear words and dropping the f-bomb here and there. Even. More. Wailing.
I went to the spare room and we both sat down, and offered him a few toys. This seemed to work and we both sat down in silence.
This motherhood gig is tough – and that’s an understatement.
As I come to my twelfth month of motherhood (yes, my baby is turning a year old – hip hip hurray!!), I look back on the things that got me through my first year as a mum.
- My faith plays a big part. I believe that motherhood is a God-given role that I am blessed with, and when things get overwhelming, I can draw strength from a Supreme Being much bigger than myself.
- I also have a husband who is well and truly a life partner, who not only works hard outside the home to provide for his family, but also shares the burden of child-rearing and household chores. I think the only thing he doesn’t do is breastfeed our baby.
- Having a supportive network is also key – friends you can count on especially that our family is thousands of miles away in another continent.
Today at My Sensitive Baby, we are privileged to hear from 13 other women who willingly shared an answer to “What got you through your first year as a mum?”. Let’s hear it from them.
The best advice I received early on was “this too shall pass…” this has got me through middle of the night wake ups, wet beds, sickness, fevers, tantrum, meltdowns and all the yuck stuff.
Kandice Williams, All for Herself, http://www.allforherself.com/
For me, it was having my ‘tribe’ around me. Headed up by my mum, whom I could call on anytime for advice or to give me an hour to myself! I was so blindsided by just how hard it could be. Becoming a mum brought out the anxious side of me, something I’d never experienced before. Having my mum-friends to chat to about this and about everything really, made it much easier for me to deal with. Also, exercise was a great outlet for my stress/anxiousness – hence my new business venture!! –Kathrin Botterhill, Be Fit Mums, www.befitmums.com.au
With positivity, never getting bogged down with hard stuff and getting outside everyday. I found when things got tough I looked forward not backwards and always reminded myself that the moment would pass. I would get outside and shift my mindset and my mood. – Aimee Murphy, Sunday Tribe Co., www.sundaytribeco.com
My first year as a first-time mum was such a learning curve! A few things got me through it, of course my husband, my family and chocolate (yes, they are probably of equal importance lol!), but my mother’s group was so valuable! Having other new mums to hang out with, help each other, vent to and learn from was so important. The second thing was prioritising some “me time”. While I’m no gym junkie, getting out to the gym during the week and popping my daughter in to the kids club for an hour or so, let me have some time just for me, whether it was exercising…or having a break in the café. – Ruth Muller, Print Ark, www.printark.com.au
I’d say the single most important thing that kept me sane in the first year was having a great support network. I was lucky that many of my close friends had babies of a similar age and I also made some amazing new connections via a mothers group. On the days where I was so sleep deprived I could cry, or felt like I couldn’t get through another day, it was my friends that supported me and made me realise I wasn’t alone.
Cathy Nelson-Williams, The Nursery Collective, www.nurserycollective.com
I had girl/boy twins who were born at 34 weeks. The first 6 weeks were spent in hospital, but then we were discharged out to the big wide world! It didnt take me long to realise that I needed to find some people who truly “understood” my problems and gave me real, practical advice (rather than just my lovely family and friends who all had singleton babies). So I joined the Australian Multiple Birth Association and “found my tribe”. The Multiple Birth play group I attended was a lifesaver and it was those people that kept me sane. Everyone “just got it” and now 6 years on, those other shellshocked, sleep deprived parents I met around the mat are some of my closest friends. – Naomi Dorland, Twinfo, https://www.twinfo.com.au
In my first year as a mum I think the thing that kept me the most sane was fresh air and exercise. Whether it was putting my baby in the pram and going for a walk, or going for a quick run while she slept and my husband was home, or doing some push ups or leg raises on the floor at home – stretching and using my body and clearing my mind, especially outdoors when I could, really helped me. – Amanda Alexopoulos, Dear Heart, http://www.dearheart.com.au
The first year is certainly challenging and full of surprises. While I had ups and downs like everyone else, overall my experience was a great one. 5 main things kept me sane: One- Following my heart and intuition where I felt something was right or wrong; Two- Not worrying about what everyone else was doing, but just staying focused on what was best for our baby and family; Three- Talking to my amazing Maternal and Child Health Nurse (I always felt more sane walking out of her office); Four- Having other mums, friends and family as support and company; Five- Co-sleeping (after a period of severe sleep deprivation we decided that we would try it and it worked wonders for us!).- Louise East, More to Mum, www.moretomum.com.au
I always thought that wanting to be a mother and feeling maternal since being a little girl would mean that it would come easily and naturally to me. For some part it did but I realised that nothing can really prepare you for your own baby. The best thing that I did was eventually give myself permission to accept help that was offered and ask when I really needed it. It was such a relief. The best advice is to firstly not take on every piece of advice too heavily, try not to have particular expectations and enjoy the little wins, trust your own mother’s instinct, know that you are not alone and it is absolutely ok asking and accepting help, it can change your entire experience of motherhood especially in that first year. – Lexie Jowett, My Baby Dream Team, www.mybabydreamteam.com
My village got me through my first year of being a mum. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I didn’t know how true that was until my first child came along. Everyone’s village is different and every person in that village plays a different role. It is important to realise as first time mums that we are not alone in the journey of motherhood and to find our village and love them as much as they are going to love us and our new baby. – Helen Sarlamis, Little Kid Nation, www.littlekidnation.com
There are 3 things that helped me the most as a first time mum: 1.Coffee – Lots of it! I actually didn’t drink coffee before becoming a mum but a few months in it was something I really grew to look forward to after a sleepless night! 2. Adult contact – Definitely need people around!! I really looked forward to seeing my husband when he was home at night but also found it really helpful to make coffee dates through the week so I could still feel like a grown up! 3. Staying active – I tried to exercise every day whether it was a walk with the pram or a home work out while the baby slept. I really found it kept my head in the right space.
Elisa, The Zero Print, thezeroprint.com
One – Learning to embrace the chaos is one of the biggest things that’s gotten me through motherhood so far. Two – Thinking of my messy house as a house that’s ‘lived in’ and viewing all the ‘mess’ scattered around the place as memories being made, little token of joy and happiness. My hubby and I always joke about our house as ‘sparkling with joy’. Three – Remembering that this time will not last forever. – Mel, Willow n Oak, www.willownoak.com.au
The main thing that got me through my first year of being a mum was most definitely my awesome mothers group! We would meet every week and sometimes we’d cry and sometimes we’d laugh but just having them there got me through…I would have been lost without them!- Kelly, Little Peg, www.etsy.com/au/shop/LittlePeg.com
Now over to you.
What got YOU through your first year of motherhood?
If you’re still at the start of your journey, how are you coping?
Hit comment below, we’d love to hear it!