Julie Helen: The first six months of motherhood...

In her weekly column Julie Helen reflects on the past few months
Julie Helen: The first six months of motherhood...
Baby Ricky when he was born. He is now six months old.

WE have a six-month-old! How did that happen? Even in a time when the days have slowed and the progress of life is somewhat stilted, as I looked at our little boy sitting up in his pram, beaming up at me yesterday morning as I got dressed, I could scarcely believe he’s half a year old. In some ways, I don’t remember life without him. Ricky is part of my identity now, part of who I am. I wake up every morning happy. My sister in law Lorna, a Mum of two told me that would happen but the reality of it is just so nice. It is not that life has been easy all the time but I am fulfilled. That’s a lovely thing to be able to say.

I like being a mother. I think I’m a good mom. I am putting my heart and soul into meeting the needs of a baby. It has been a steep learning curve. I’m not trying to be cocky in saying I’m a good mum. I think being positive is important. I think there’s a lot of judgement and expectation in parenting and it can be hard to be confident in decisions, especially as a first time mum. I try not to be overly worried about Ricky. That’s hard. I second guess myself all the time but then I see him smile, or flap his arms with excitement or burst into glorious giggles and all my worries melt away to nothing. He is happy, that’s what counts the most. He can’t be in a good mood all the time, especially with teething but if he has more good days that tough ones, I consider that a win. At the moment, we are winning!

Julie Helen with husband Dave and baby Ricky, when he was born, six months ago.
Julie Helen with husband Dave and baby Ricky, when he was born, six months ago.

There are many things about pregnancy and early motherhood that nobody really talks about, or at least we downplay them and do ourselves a disservice. Hand on heart, this is the first week I feel a bit like my “old self”. Recovering from giving birth is a hard physical slog but it is also an utterly emotional rollercoaster. The first few weeks are dominated by being overwhelmed, scared and tired. Then I went on to feel a bit resentful of my husband. That feeling was awful and it really blindsided me. I was resentful of David because it felt like he could just go back to work and his “old life” and experience only the good bits of cuddles and snuggles when it suited him. Of course in reality it wasn’t that perfect for him at all, it took him a while to figure out where he fit in the parenting roles. We experience it very differently and that’s ok.

It’s only now that I can finally see through the newborn fog that I feel more on an even keel. I absolutely underestimated the level of physical recovery I needed and that made the hormones and emotions so much harder to endure. For a while there, I genuinely thought I was going crazy. I had a need to get all my ducks in a row. I wanted to solve all the unanswered questions. I wanted a house and to know where home will be. I wanted connection with my husband and I wanted to know exactly what the plan for our son was, at least for the next 10 years and I wanted it all set in stone immediately. None of it was realistic. I love my husband, I don’t resent him. The panic and crazy feelings were the hormones raging. I’m a good mum. Life is not simple. All is well!

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