Have you heard about or do you know what ‘Self-Care’ means? Is it something that’s on your radar or is it more in the Bermuda lost triangle zone as far as you’re concerned? Do you even know what I’m talking about?! Self care is essentially about taking responsibility for yourself, your health and mental wellbeing. It essentially means to look after YOU. I knew of the term but despite doing a lot of things for ‘myself’ I didn’t really acknowledge that what I was doing was called ‘self-care’. Listening to Women’s Hour on Friday (I know, I’m WILD) there was a segment about this topic, where it took one woman finding out she had cancer, going through all the treatment and coming out the other side, before she realised that she hadn’t been taking care of herself at all. She realised pre-diagnosis that she’d been burning candle at both ends, running herself into the ground working and partying too hard. Having cancer made her realise she needed to slow down and start loving herself a bit more. The programme really got me thinking. Certainly leading up to IVF I was really good at meditating on a regular basis, I was getting loads of sleep, drinking loads of water etc but then the pregnancy and sickness stopped all of that, and then after the miscarriage everything went to shit, quite frankly. I went off track by way of rebelling and showing my anger I suppose. I stopped doing all of the things that were good for ME. I realised that I hadn’t been looking after myself at all.
When you have a child, you get told so much. Oh my, so much information is thrown at you, either by yourself from reading books and online, or by professionals, friends, family and strangers. Everyone wants to reveal their tips and tricks to you. You get told how amazing it is, how exhausting you will find it, how babies are hard work, how times flies and how much they change. You get warned about the body changes, the sagging boobs and the slight potential change to the, erm, downstairs department and you get told about the stretch marks, but does anyone ever tell you about, ‘the fear?’ Let me just explain what I mean (sidenote: there’s no dramatic music when saying the words, the fear, although you can create if you want) I’m talking about that overactive imagination that kicks into gear as you’re trying to sleep at night, creating horrible scenarios from harmless activities or days out. Scenes are replayed in your head with alternative, horror endings. It’s all just tricks of the mind of course, but this parental fear wasn’t something I was prepared for when I became a mum.
Mothers Day is fast approaching and I’ve been thinking about the fact that as my years creep ever closer to forty (I mean, really?!) that I’m slowly but surely turning into my mother. Actually scrub that, I don’t notice it so much, it’s my husband who tells me I am. It’s inevitable really isn’t it what with the DNA and all, it’s something that can’t be helped or stopped, no matter what your relationship. I love my mum dearly, she’s done so much for me over the years, the one I look to for advice but it hasn’t always been this way. We had a rough ride when I was younger. I was a typical teenager and I caused her a lot of heartache and grief, for which I carry a lot of guilt for (it’s okay, I’ll be punished via my own daughter, karma and all that) I used to hate it when people told me I looked like my her but now I love it, I’m her daughter, that’s our eternal link and bond. Now that I have a daughter myself I understand that link that will always be there. Plus I know that I can’t fight it, it’s happening whether I like it or not. I’ve had a bit of a think and here are a few signs that I’m turning into my mother.
The words to this letter have whirling around my head for a while now my darling daughter, really since the day you were born, but the time hasn’t felt right to put those words down until now. I wanted to write you a letter at each birthday but I think this one alone will hopefully cover the last two years of your busy little life. I’ve got so many things to say to you, to tell you and to let you know about, but I’ll try to keep this simple and not prattle on too much. I’ll get the slushy stuff out of the way first, okay?
No amount of information or advice from friends or family really, truly prepared me for having a baby. I read every book going, did NCT and even did the free NHS classes too. I was a complete swot and asked lots of questions and wrote a whole heap of notes. All in preparation for becoming a ‘parent‘ (dun, dun, duuueeerrr!), I was ready I thought. But when my baby arrived, everything I’d learnt or read went out of the window. Funnily enough never at one point did I refer back to my trusty ‘notes’. The last thing you think about doing, during a 3am feed followed by a ‘poo-splosion’, is consulting your pages and pages of crap handwriting, you just have to wing a lot of stuff. Honestly there were some very confusing moments when my baby was new (often involving poo or sick) but I got through those dark times and hey presto, I came out the other side having learnt a new skill, wahoo! (to any potential or new parents, you will at one point be stood covered head to toe in sick, holding a baby also covered in sick and you literally won’t know where to start) Here are a few motherhood truths for you, a few things that I’ve discovered or learnt along the way.