Welcome to the 27th issue of the #beingamother project. This week sees Ellie from Honest Mumma sharing her challenging story of becoming a mother, which really brings up the feeling that no matter what sacrifices we have made as mothers along the way, no matter how often we may not feel like it – somehow parenthood comes out being worth it over everything.
From traumatic births, and struggling with Post Natal Depression (which you can read more about from an earlier in conversation here), Ellie’s account of being a mother is a beautifully candid story of how the path to becoming a mother is not always as straight forward as we’re led to believe….
I remember as a young child at primary school we did a project on ‘what I want to be when I grow up.’ This was very easy for me as I wanted to be a Mum. Ever since I can remember this was my main goal in life. I was never really a girly girl and was more likely to be found up a tree or down a hole than playing with dolls, but I always had a strong nurturing side to me.
I just wanted to be a Mummy to somebody. I remember the teacher saying I had to choose a proper job to do. I can only assume now that she wasn’t a mother herself as I can’t imagine a mother referring to being a mummy as not being a proper job….
So I meandered through my school years with no real direction or set out career path to work towards. I was always Miss Average and was only really good at the creative subjects. ‘Nice as a hobby but won’t make you a living.’ I was once told. No problem I thought – I just want to be a mummy.
After a few jobs I settled to a career in childcare, I really embraced it and thoroughly enjoyed the work. But still I was desperate for my own family. To cut a long story short, a few years later I was married and expecting my first child, aged 29. She was born a few weeks before my 30th birthday, followed by my son 16 months later.
The pregnancy with both were very similar, the usual morning sickness, heartburn, and tiredness. But this is where the similarities end. I would never have thought that my two journeys to becoming a mother could be so different.
Pregnancy with my daughter was very enjoyable, medically very healthy and as a first time parent I delighted in every little milestone we reached together. I already felt like a mother before my daughter was born, I felt as if I knew her already and that we had formed a strong bond.
With my son I felt exhausted constantly and that as I was so busy looking after my daughter that I didn’t have the time to revel in every tiny milestone. I acknowledged them of course, but I just didn’t have the time and energy to invest in being quite so excited about every little wiggle and kick this time round. To some people this may make me sound like a ‘bad mother’ already before the little man was even born, but I’m just being honest. It was very different the second time round for me. Medically, I had more issues with this pregnancy, which resulted in a midnight ambulance ride and a few short stays in hospital in my third trimester.
With my daughter I did the full labour, hours and hours of labour, with every procedure going to try and get her out, the end result was an emergency c-section. She got to stay with me, we had a few days on the ward, then we all went home together. I can honestly say that motherhood came very naturally to me. It was just as great as I always thought it would be. Sure, I was tired and sore from the whole process, but I was on cloud nine, very proud of myself and my new daughter. I felt like super Mum.
My son arrived 6 weeks early via emergency c-section after I had a placenta abruption. I was later told by doctors that, if we weren’t already at hospital when this happened, we would most likely not have survived due to the massive blood loss. So there I was, alone, having my son delivered a lot earlier than I expected. I didn’t even really feel like I knew my son that was about to be born. I didn’t feel I’d had enough time to get to know him yet. I wasn’t ready for this moment, but had no choice.
Did I get to hold him? No. Did he spend a few days on the ward with me before we went home? No. He was whisked off to NICU as he was in respiratory distress. He then spent 13 days there recovering from a collapsed lung and having his breathing supported. So even now, at the most crucial time for a mother and child to be bonding, we didn’t get the chance to.
Becoming a mother the second time round was very different to the first time for me. I have been suffering from post-natal depression, anxiety and crippling feelings of guilt towards how I have let my son down in every possible way that a mother could already, and he was only a few weeks old. He wasn’t even supposed to be here yet. My body had failed him. The day we took him home from NICU was still 3 weeks before his due date. I was terrified.
I had absolutely no idea how to be a mother to my new son. I had no over whelming feelings of joy. All of the confidence I used to have from my working days and being a mum to our daughter had gone. I doubted every decision I had to make. I even doubted my own maternal instinct. I found this the hardest thing to deal with. How was I going to care for this tiny little person? This time becoming a mother was like nothing I could ever have imagined when I was a child.
One thing I do know is that, through becoming a mother, I am no longer Miss Average. Both of my births were classed as traumatic, both of my births have resulted in two exceptional children that I am immensely proud to call my own. Both of my births have given me a confidence that I never had before. Confidence in my ability to achieve anything I set my mind to. Confidence in my body and what it has endured over the last three years. Both of my births have given me confidence in my physical appearance that I have never had before in my life. Both of my births have brought families closer together in a shared love of these two new amazing family members.
Both of my births have brought more love into my life than I could have imagined possible.
So, to the teacher that thought being a Mum wasn’t a proper job or something to aspire to when you’re older, I hope in some roundabout way you will get to read this and realise that becoming a mother, for me, has been the most incredible experience in my life and has shaped me into a stronger human being than I ever thought I could be. Let’s look at it this way, not many people get to achieve their life-long ambition (twice) by the time they’re 31. So anything else I achieve now is just a bonus!!!
Want to find out more about Post Natal Depression or perhaps dealing with Post Natal Depression yourself? Read what is it really like….living with Post Natal Depression here, an earlier in conversation I had with Ellie on the blog here. You can also read all previous issues of the #beingamother project here.