I haven’t blogged for a while, mostly because I haven’t had much to say. But on Good Friday, a bank holiday in the UK, when I’ve arranged activities for the boys to do on my own with them once again as my husband works, I found myself staring into nothingness whilst standing at the kitchen sink earlier, and my mind wandered. It wandered to that place where I remembered what my expectations were of becoming a parent, before I fell pregnant.
I never looked at pregnancy or having a baby through rose-tinted lenses. I was aware that pregnancy was hard, and growing a small person took a lot from you. However, that didn’t prepare me for the reality of an entire pregnancy of hyperemesis gravidarum. (Which isn’t just severe morning sickness. It’s all day, all night sickness, amongst other things! But that’s for a different discussion!) It also didn’t prepare me for recovery from an emergency c-section, following a traumatic failed induction, caring for my firstborn, a 10lb 8oz hunk of a child, whilst my husband had no paternity leave whatsoever.
That’s where I first went wrong. I’d anticipated a couple of weeks of the three of us, getting familiar with this parenting malarky. Not being thrown in at the deep end, coping, for the most part, alone.
Some other assumptions I’d made, included if I ended up bottle feeding, that I’d not have to do every single goddamn night feed myself. Wrong.
Or maybe, I wouldn’t have to change every single nappy? Wrong. (His sensory issues mean he finds it very difficult…)
I might even get a lie in, perhaps once a week, when husband could get up with the baby instead? Wrong.
Now, I’m not saying my husband isn’t a great father, because he is, and he does the best he can in the ways he knows how, by providing for us all.
Although, this leads me on to my next point.
If someone had told me, before I got pregnant, that I would have to: give up my career, sacrifice my body, never for it to return to anything like what it was before I was pregnant the first time, and also sacrifice my mental health, that I would have to do every single school run myself, go to almost every medical and school appointment myself, I may not have been so desperately broody as I was for so long. Perhaps it was also no surprise that I ended up with postnatal depression.
First child got to the age of 2.5, and had a couple of mornings a week at preschool, and I felt some resemblance of normality return. At 3, he got his 15 free hours a week, and I felt ok again. I had my body back, and I had some time for me, because I wasn’t going to get that time any other way.
Then I fell pregnant again. And you know what? I was hoping that this time around, my husband might have some paternity leave. And if I bottle fed, he’d help out with some night feeds. And he might help with nappy changes. And I might get the odd lie in. Maybe even just once a month.
Then our eldest had his ASD diagnosis. Which wasn’t a shock, but I thought knowing that was the case for sure, having it in black and white, would mean perhaps I’d have a few more helping hands every now and again?
You guessed it; I was wrong again.
So, here I am, with youngest at 2.5 years old, doing a couple of mornings a week at preschool. And I am completely unapologetic that I am counting down the days until he starts his 15 hours at preschool once he’s 3, and then school full time after his 4th birthday, because I need some hope that I might be able to recover my body and my mental health.
My expectations of having someone helping out with the parenting duties regularly, cooking a meal once in a while, coming out on family days with us, were completely and utterly wrong.
I don’t have any regrets, because that’s just not how I roll. I know that a decision made was the right one at the time, not to be regretted later. But if someone had told me exactly what my life would be like as a mother, I’m not sure I’d be writing this very blog post today.
Parenting isn’t all roses; it’s not all fun and games. It also doesn’t mean I love my boys any less. But it is REALLY hard. It changes you. Physically. Mentally. It really changes you.