Almost three and half years into this parenting gig and I’m still learning things every day. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to not get caught up in what you “think motherhood should be like”. Those daydreams set me up to fail, hard. It’s the nitty gritty and often taboo topics around motherhood that people shy away from talking about, which is exactly what I did at the beginning of my motherhood journey. Looking back I wish I had the guts to talk to people about what was really going on, so here is a letter to myself full of truths that I would have loved to hear if I magically could turn back the clock.
Congratulations, after the heartache, pain of IVF, confusion and all round un fairness of infertility you are pregnant! Boom. Nailed it! I know you think the hard part is over now and it will be smooth sailing, but think again. I’m only 3 years ahead of you, but oh my the things you have learned and would do over if you could. But these are all things you will learn once your babies (plural) – yip you read that right – your TWINS arrive! How’s that for a bombshell?! So here it is, what I wish you could know…
There will be challenges, motherhood proves to be one big challenge in ways you never imagined, but it will be worth it….
One moment you are over the moon happy as you are pregnant, finally! But 6 weeks in your thrown the first curve ball. One move of the ultra sound wand and wait a moment, there are two, TWO heart beats! That little bugger of an embryo split after it was returned to you. That will send instant terror through your entire body. I know you never ever even dreamed of having twins like some people do, just like your husband did. He is ecstatic, you aren’t. But you know what, that’s ok! It’s ok to be scared, let yourself feel as bottling all those emotions up will cause havoc and will lead you on the slippery slope to Post Natal Depression. Talking is good, you usually are so vocal about everything and anything, so please use your voice and speak up. Telling people what’s going on will mean you get the support you need. You’re one of the first to be a mum amongst your friends, they don’t know what you are going through and aren’t mind readers. They won’t understand or try to unless you tell them.
Vomiting sucks, don’t get your hopes up that the Hyperemesis Gravidarum will fade by 12 weeks like everyone says, spoiler alert…it doesn’t. The only advice I can give you on this one is stay away from quinoa, meat & broccoli. That stuff isn’t pretty on the way back up!
Pre term babies are teeny tiny, and it’s so tough not being able to hold them and take them home right away. Bonding will be tough, I think because you were so ill and those little babies were the ones making you that way is what starts the first on set of WTF feelings. Then when they arrive they are locked away in plastic incubators, you can’t get near them for a little while and it makes you feel very removed from the becoming a mother milestone you just reached. I know you will try and put on a brave face and “fake it till you make it” but you will learn that not falling head over heels in love with your children the moment you lock eyes on them is actually normal. You have only heard the good stories, but how you are feeling happens to millions of women too. IT WILL HAPPEN, it will just be a slow burn and that’s ok! Because when it does it will mean even that much more to you. You will love them fiercely, so just take it easy on yourself for now.
Friendships change and evolve, some people are there for you all the time and others aren’t. You’re one of the first off the motherhood block and other people lives keep going. Don’t be offended when you feel a little left out, your friends are adjusting to your new role too and you will all find your feet. You have amazing friends and they are friendships that will last a lifetime. So try not to get upset and when you are feeling alone reach out! Picking up the phone is the best thing to do.
Your relationship with your husband will evolve big time. You will realise how much strength you find in one another and become a next level team in your new world of baby chaos. I know you are scared of how it will affect things but you guys nail it. If cracks were going to show it would show during that first year, but they don’t. I know you have a lot of stuff on your mind and that constant stress of how it will change your relationship isn’t fun thinking about finding time for one another, not bickering over small things when you are sleep deprived and *cough cough* Jay missing fun time in the bedroom, but it will all go back to normal, eventually. So just let those worries go. You’re good girl!
You are tougher than you think. Your babies sadly won’t be those babies you day dreamed about laying on the couch with, having naps together, talking long walks in a pram with. They both have reflux and colic and spend a hell a lot of time crying. It’s soul breaking to hear babies cry that much, you know they are in pain but you still feel anger towards that constant sound of wah, wah, wah and that in turn makes you feel guilty. It’s a merry go round of feelings. You truck along like everything is ok for far too long, that’s because you are tough. But give it up girl, you don’t need to “tough” it out. Give in and sort your own mental health out, because as soon as you respect yourself and seek help things will slowly start to get better. Trust me. Remeber, it’s ok to not be ok! Repeat that with me Anna, it needs to be your mantra for a little while.
Finally, you will change but you are still you. You just add a whole new wonderful part to your soul. It adds to you instead of takes away from you. You’re battling with feeling “like yourself again” after dealing with anxiety and situational depression, but you do a great job of taking “you” time and not losing yourself in motherhood. Bravo! Don’t feel guilty about taking that time out to enjoy your friends, husband and alone time. That time seriously makes you a better mother, so ignore what anyone thinks and keep doing it because it works!
Basically, forget the day dreams of what life “should” be life with kids. Expectations versus reality aren’t going to match up and you need to get over that quick smart. But reality ends up being perfect anyway, your parenting journey makes you so strong and you won’t want it any other way. So be proud of your journey and learn to grieve and then move on from what you thought it was going to be like, as wishing you had it different takes your mind away from what is happening right in front of you. those babies are growing up so so fast, you don’t get those moments back. So relish them! You are an incredible mother and you need to tell yourself that more often. Well done mama, I’m proud of you.