Finding the ‘old you’ in the First Thousand Days
Blogger, Beth MacDonald from Baby Mac shares her tips for finding the ‘old you’ in the First Thousand Days of parenthood.
But the actual minute that your newborn baby enters the world, the spotlight and focus on all that care and attention shifts (quite rightly) onto them. I remember getting stitched up post-episiotomy, post placenta delivery, and looking over at my husband and new baby and how happy they were, and wondered what in the ACTUAL just happened and hello! I’m over here! But it’s no longer about you, oh no, that baby is where it’s at.
And for me? Well, that adjustment took some time. Of course, it should be about this miracle and wonder that has arrived to completely change your life forever. But I think for the first time Mum in particular, from the moment that baby is delivered, the world as you know it shifts. And for me, a shift in trying to work out who I was now, what my role was, and how to be good at it right away, through physical and mental exhaustion, took its toll.
No one asked about me anymore.
No one checked in about how things were heading down there.
I had literally NO clue what I was doing.
And I was doing it on little to no sleep.
Sheesh, no wonder those first few weeks are so hard!
It’s really hard.
For me, to be able to be the best version of this new “Mum Beth” I found that I had to tap into the parts of “old Beth” that made me happy.
1. Lowered expectations
So, by baby two and definitely by baby three, I knew these standards and expectations had to drop. For a little while at least. For my sanity and those that had to live with me. Don’t make that bed. Don’t unpack that dishwasher. Don’t stress about the mess. If the one thing you get done today is having a shower then go you! Or getting the baby into the car seat whilst dropping the toddler to daycare I say bravo!
The lower the bar, the easier it is to jump over, and if you get something done, and done well, rather than ALL the things you normally would, you can feel good that you did that.
2. Make time for YOU
3. Call on your village
Sure, I almost lost my mind in the process, but on I went, pretending all was ok. “I’m fine! All good!” Narrator: THINGS WERE NOT GOOD.
I wish I had asked for more help. Wish I had asked for people to drop off food. Wished I had asked for friends to just come and hang out with me and tell me about their interesting lives. Wish I had told people to talk to ME and not just the baby. Wish I had asked friends to mind the baby so I could go out for a while. Or sleep.
People want to help! Just ask, they will always say yes and in the meantime, you might get a cuppa or a laugh with a friend that reminds you of life outside newborn baby land.
4. Back yourself
As an adult, you have probably made decisions that up until this point have served you well. Leave this job. Work hard for that one. Marry him and definitely NOT him. Your gut knows what is best for you and this is NO different with parenting.
While it’s the first time at this rodeo, mothering is often instinct, and winging it. You know what to do. You know what’s best for your baby. You just do. Listen to it. Do it. Trust yourself. And back yourself. You’ve got this girlfriend, you really do. The one thing third time ‘Beth Mum’ would say to first time ‘Beth Mum’ is “trust yourself. You’re doing good”.
And finally, after trying to adjust to this new version of you as a Mum, know that this doesn’t last forever. But like when you have gastro, it still sucks when you are in it, even though you know it won’t last forever.
Soon enough you will get the hang of it. The feeding will be better, you will adjust to living on no sleep. You will get confident in your skin as a Mum and have time again to be you again.
Whilst the shift that comes with the first thousand days of parenting indeed changes us forever; a better, more patient and loving version of you will arrive, one that will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible. All because of that little baby that you grew and birthed.
It’s quite the ride.