Pregnancy, and a new baby are usually joyous occasions. For the most part (providing they aren’t going through any heartache or hardship on the baby front themselves – actually even if they are – I’ve been there) your friends are going to be absolutely thrilled!
You’ll celebrate, and share milestones and updates. Weekly pictures of what sized fruit Bubs is, creepy real life 3D images off the baby app’s (or was that just me?). Bets will be taken on the gender. Baby showers will be planned, nursery decor designed – and redesigned, birth dates guessed, names discussed at length, and if you’re anything like me, you will want the most important people in your life involved and sharing every step of the way.
Things however, can start to take a bit of a twist and turn when some of those big and often unexpected changes kick in.
Firstly; a big one for lots of people – no alcohol. Now don’t get me wrong – this ones a no brainer, and obviously people will understand why you’re not drinking – duh. But honestly, I didn’t realise how many events and occasions I attended or was invited to that involved alcohol! Especially in the early days when you haven’t told anyone. I’m not a huge drinker anymore. I love a cheeky G&T or 2 (or sometimes 7 #realtalk) – but not all the time, and not every single social occasion. Yet somehow, when you’re pregnant, it feels like alcohol makes the world go round! Work events, birthdays, dinners out, you name it. Maybe because you can’t have it, you notice it more? I’m not sure, but it feels like it’s EVERYWHERE. We all have those friends who are our drinking buddies. Those friends we drink with, and most of the time spent together involves drinking, going out, hungover fried food binges, and not much else. These are the first group of friends you have to start saying no to…
As much as you vow to yourself in the early stages (even while battling through morning sickness that totally OWNS you) that nothings going to change, life changes in so many ways that you never expect.
I vowed I was going to keep fit and active. I was going to stay social and see my friends regularly. I had daily pep talks – Fe, you’re going to stay focused and be a boss lady at work. I was going to keep up my beauty routine (otherwise you can’t see my eyebrows) and maintain a smart, but bump friendly business wardrobe…..LOLLLLLLLL AT PAST FE. I was in exercise tights and chucks at 22 weeks (perks of being the boss and not client facing) could barely manage a walk around the block, and no eyebrows in sight!
Time ticks on, belly gets bigger, space in there is running out. Sleep is getting less, moving around easily gets harder, patience starts to run thin… suddenly you are saying no more and more and more. Unless you’re glowing mcdreamy supermodel Susan who radiates pregnancy perfection. Scroll on Susan… scroll on. (Good on you – power to you – but no one wants to hear about it k thanks) This mamas, is just the beginning. It’s preparing your friend circle to see less of you… for a while.
Then – along comes the baby! Everyone is beyond happy for you. They have cuddles, they bring pressies, they pose for photos and the Aunty Army shows up in full support. I’m super lucky to have several core groups of amazing, beautiful girlfriends. They’re the best. Truly. I can’t imagine doing life without them. Everyone of them is special to me in a unique way, from many different stages of my life. Jackson has many fairy godmothers, and he’s a lucky lucky boy.
Since having a baby, I’ve let a few of these special people down, and the guilt is quite consuming. I know there are some staunch Mums out there who are all about “support me and be understanding, or walk-on…” and everyone always says it ok, it’s expected, you’re a new first time Mum etc etc. But, I’m a fiercely loyal person, and I HATE feeling like I’m not capable. I know they understand, I know they know my reasons are valid, but it doesn’t make the guilt any less, or any easier. It’s just another rung in the Mum-Guilt ladder. It’s real Mum-Guilt, and it BLOODY SUCKS.
I missed a very special friends hens party as Bubs wouldn’t take a bottle. It was going to take as much time to get to the party and even if I got there, turned around and came straight back, Bubs would still be overdue a feed! I agonized. I spent months pumping in preparation and tried to come up with a plan, or solution – but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t go. I also missed a special, and dear close friend of mines engagement party for the same reason. I still feel guilty about these months later. Even if they’ve forgotten – I’m holding on to it in my little storage box of Fe’s Mum-fails. A ridiculous list of my own self proclaimed inadequacy – I pull it out in my head, and list it off when I’m having a shitty day. Far out we can be hard on ourselves can’t we?!
I’ve forgotten to reply to texts. I’ve thought I’ve replied, only to realise days later I haven’t. My phone is on silent 24/7 – it never comes off incase the crucial moment sleep is bequeathed to me or Bubs, it might beep or jeopardize that precious moment in any way. I never answer calls, I wait for the voicemail and then by listening too it, somehow think I’ve had a full on conversation with the person and then never return the call. I don’t make plans after 4 in the afternoon. I haven’t for 9 months. I’ve been out after 4 twice, once for an amazing wedding (I missed the first dance and got a speeding ticket on the way home – another thing logged in my little punisher list) and once for Celine Dion just a couple of weeks ago. I don’t make plans around nap times, I cancel plans if it’s bad weather because I don’t want to risk a cold or flu. I’ve rescheduled because Bubs is grizzly or screamy. I get anxiety if the car ride is going to be too long, and measure the likelihood of me committing to an outing by how long I could cope driving there or back if a full blown screaming fit were to happen. I’ve also rescheduled because I haven’t showered in three or more days and my hair is more dry shampoo than hair… actually. I’ve done this. Disclaimer – some of this is getting easier the older Bubs gets, and the more confidence I get, but most of this is still very much happening on the daily!
That lot doesn’t leave a lot of room or time for maintaining friendships does it?!
Mamas if you’re feeling this way – know you’re not alone. It will get easier. It’s not forever, and you have the ultimate best, and most precious possible reason. Relax. Enjoy this time at home doing nothing, just you and baby. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. It’s obviously easier said than done (I mean you’ve just read this right??!). I’m the worst culprit, and working on taking my own advice… Just be honest and try to roll with it. Trust that your friends and family really do understand. Talk it through with other Mums. Find a coffee group or some other Mums you can spend time with who don’t judge, and know what you’re going through. My coffee group are just the best bunch of people that have really been lifesavers. I know they’re fine if Bubs has a meltdown, I have a meltdown, or I have to reschedule for the 11th time. We’re all in the same boat. We share tips and tricks and info daily. They are a whole new type of friend I never thought I’d have, and I’m so so grateful to have them. My friends who already have kids (you know who you are) are the most Mumspirational people I know, and I can only hope to be half as good a Mum as you are! They’ve pulled me out of many dark holes with just a few words of advice, wisdom, and understanding.
So to all my friends, to the hard done by besties that find themselves wondering what the heck’s happened to their mate. This is for you.
ODE TO MY BEST FRIENDS
I’m still here, I’m just different
I know you can’t see it, but something in me has changed
I don’t love you less, but now I have another love, and that love is exhausting and stretched to its limit
I’m still here, I’m just a different version of myself – and I miss the old one too
I miss you
I miss me
I miss the carefree nature of our friendship
I miss random missions to eat pizza or chat on top of a hill about boys, and our dreams, with no timeline and no one to answer to
I’m still here, I’m just tired
I will have to cancel
I will have to change plans
I will say that I can make plans, and then say that I can’t
It doesn’t mean I love you less, it’s just my world is upside down
I’m still here, I’m just learning
I’m learning how to juggle another humans life with my own
I’m learning that I can’t juggle, and can sometimes only manage one thing at a time
I’m learning how to deal with no sleep, and broken nights
I’m learning how to nurture and tend to my babies wants and needs
I’m learning how to deal with my new reality
It doesn’t mean I love you less, it’s just a new chapter in our story
I’m still here, I’m just navigating
I’m navigating each day, each hour, each minute
I’m navigating feeding, and sleeping, and playing and bathing. Changing and washing, and cleaning and balancing
I’m navigating being a Mother, a Wife, a Daughter, a Sister, an Aunty… and a Friend
I still here, and I still need you
I still need you to ask how I’m doing
I still need you to want to spend time and hang out (even when we don’t – especially when we don’t)
I still need you to listen to my fears and my rants and my plans
But most of all I need you to be ok when I can’t…
When I can’t return the love and drop everything
I want to, but I can’t
When I can’t just pop over for a chat and a catch-up
Oh how I want to, but I can’t
When I can’t pick up your call or answer your message because I have a sleeping baby in my arms, or a screaming baby, or a poo explosion
When I just can’t face human contact – for no other reason than just: I can’t
I’m still here, and it’s not forever
I’m still here and one day it will be easy again
I’m still here, and we have so many amazing new memories to make
I want you to know you haven’t lost me, I’ve lost me, and I’m trying
Thank you for being you
Thank you for understanding
Thank you for always knowing without me having to tell you
I’m still here. But, now I’m not just Me – I’m also Mum.