Sunday, 5 March 2017

Who am I? The Mum change.


I have been feeling out of sorts recently. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Is it my 22 week pregnant hormones? Perhaps. Maybe, it is being on the eve of my 27th birthday, who knows. It came to me more when I recently went to spend some time with some old best friends. I felt different, was I different? I think I was. I think I have now come to the realisation that I have changed, I am in a weird sort of limbo where I have gained a new confidence, am interested in new things, have new passions but I am still adapting with how I present the ‘newer version of me’, to the real world. I have been more honest by sharing my life online then I have been in real life. I find it easy to write the words of how I am feeling, to relive what we have been through and most of all to be honest in my writing. This is how I process, how I cope, but face to face? I am still very much the anxious acne ridden teenager who was rejected by her mum.

Can we change? There is the old age phrase of a ‘leopard doesn’t change his spots’. I disagree. I have changed, but I think the change occurred when I became a mother. For 9 months, you give your body over to someone else, you grow a human and give birth. You, then become consumed with looking after this new little person. ‘You’, takes a back seat while you adjust and become responsible for keeping someone else fed, happy, rested, clean and well alive. You are then dealing with more hormones that a HRT convention whilst living on a diet of no sleep and caffeine. You lose yourself, sometimes you don’t even recognise the person staring back at you. Then when that first piece of freedom is offered to you for a night out, a coffee date, a night off, you have no bloody idea how to enjoy yourself. When you first go out, especially with non-mum friends it can be hard not to talk about anything other than the baby. I still worry, I may talk about Elijah too much, but hay that’s me now, I am Elijah’s Mum. I find when I am childless, I will suddenly have something pop into my head he has done, and need to share it, or rush off to check in that he is okay. I think, I may be boring. I can’t help it, I spend most of my time with him, that when I am not, my thoughts are still consumed by that little bugger. I am boring, in the fact I would rather stay in, than go out drinking (happy to accept home deliveries of gin however) and I most certainly cannot handle a hangover. I don’t like clubbing. I watch the clock and begin to panic if it is gets too late worried about the effect it has if human one decides to make an early 5AM appearance. I have been known to cancel plans, just because I cannot bear to leave him, or deal with the consequence of going out. I guess I feel safe staying in, I am content but this is where I have lost a part of me, and I am unsure where to find it again.

Being a NICU Mum my start to motherhood wasn’t ‘normal’. I left Elijah maybe twice in the 6 months leading up to his op. If Elijah had an episode whilst we were gone, I would have been terrified and felt guilty for the person looking after him. I was also going through a tough time mentally. I can look back and realise how much of a battering my mental health took. I was broken, and suffering. I abused myself and tore myself up about every decision I made for Elijah, and that it was my fault he was going through this. I shut myself of from the world. I didn’t let anyone it, not even Greg, happy with punishing myself through drugs and eating disorders. This buried what little part of myself was left, that bit deeper. I couldn’t enjoy myself, I felt I didn’t deserve too. How could I when Elijah was going through what he did? I am aware that we will face a different journey to other kids as Elijah gets older and he may need another surgery. This is a hard pill to swallow, especially with us being pregnant with a second baby where so far everything seems okay and normal. I want Elijah to be normal, and it is something I put to the back of mind and just carry on. I can find it hard to talk about it out loud though. Emotionally, I am still a bit of a mess going from one extreme to another. Emotionally, it is draining. Since, I overcame PTSD, I came to accept my NICU Mum title, when for so many months I was in denial about it. I am proud, it shows how far we have come, and I am determined to help others and raise awareness. But, all I have ever known is being a NICU Mum, when the new baby arrives can I just be a normal mum?
New hair, new skin, new me?
Then there are the physical changes you undergo having a child. You’re still carrying some baby weight, you don’t fit into your skinny jeans, your boobs still leak and your acne is back. You lose your hair that you gained when pregnant which leaves you with a patchy bird nest. Your confidence is as flimsy as a tissue. There is the assumption that once you have a baby, you will need to lose a few pounds and boom you are back to your pre-pregnancy self. WRONG. My body changed and it was permanent. My hair thinned, my skin got worse, my stretchmarks stretched, and I was still a stranger in my body. It took maybe a year after Elijah was born to accept my new body but that’s not to say I wasn’t still hung up on the insecurities. Of course, you do what you are advised not to, and compare yourself to every other mother you can think of which does not help at all. Now, I am pregnant with my second and going through the adjustment all over again. Random hair growth, leaky boobs, and ever expanding stomach are just a few. I am a mum to Elijah and this is all I have known for two and a half years. Now, I am going to be a new mum all over again, with a toddler, and I am excited and scared in equal measures! I guess, this time round I have more of an idea of what to expect but I am not sure where ‘I’, will fit it being on mat leave with a toddler and a new born.
My sense of identity becomes blurred at times, and I feel lost. I have never been pregnant and had a toddler, and with everything my body is doing I am once again trying to find myself. I find my confidence is a lot like a rollercoaster ride, sometimes I find it is at an all-time high and I am ready to take on the world. The other time I have nose-dived and I find myself falling off the tracks. Having eating disorders, and skin issues growing up it led to me to be very self-conscious and I do find myself feeling like my teenage self did again. With my hair, weight and skin all going haywire I do struggle with, ‘me’. It has been hard to admit but I haven’t enjoyed this pregnancy at times, and it adds to wondering, who I am now.

So, who am I? I am a mother. That’s is who I am. That is what has changed me. The rest I am still trying to work out.

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