I don’t recognise the person in the mirror anymore.
I once was a successful Assistant Headteacher, confident in my ability, generally in my looks, confident as a partner, a friend and who I was as a person. I travelled the world, swam seas, climbed mountains, jumped through the skies and set challenges that would stretch most.
I am still an Assistant Headteacher but the difference is I am now a mother too. I now question my ability as an employee, I question my looks, how good I am as a partner, a friend and I spend most days questioning who I am as a person, feeling guilty for most of the choices I make and the things I do.
A year ago I found out I was pregnant, it was one of the best days of my life, for various reasons I wasn’t sure I would ever have a child but from a very young age I dreamed of being a mummy and always thought god had put me on the earth to be one. Unfortunately motherhood hasn’t come quite as naturally as I thought and hoped it would.
From the very beginning I felt I was bad at it, despite having quite a lot experience of babies, having worked in a baby unit in a nursery.
I thought, and was told again and again to have no expectations for the birth but deep down I knew I wished for a calm and beautiful water birth. I had attended hypnobirthing classes and watched YouTube videos of blissful births where barely a scream was shed, unsurprisingly this was what I wanted too. After 24hrs of being in labour, an ambulance trip to a higher dependency hospital, an epidural, an episiotomy, stirrups and forceps my baby Alice came into the world. I was not good at birthing after all but fortunately I was good at making babies, Alice was perfect, she was, in my eyes, beautiful, she fed from me straight away and the love I felt for her was overwhelming.
The next three months were the hardest of my life. I can’t tell you how many tears I shed, my hormones were crazy! The days of using my brain cells and earning money were a thing of the past. I had become a glorified housewife, a skill I had never been great at. Despite doing a lot of socialising, drinking coffee with friends, baby classes and generally getting out and about I still felt lost, tied down, suffocated, trapped and very very tired and as a result often very unhappy. I counted down the minutes until my partner came home so I could have some me time and feel loved and cared for. I felt like a small insecure child myself!
When I started talking to other mums I realised how normal these feelings and emotions were. Who knew? I had a new found respect for mums. They were, in my eyes, heroes. They spend nearly every waking and non waking hour doing their absolute best to keep their little ones alive, healthy and happy, often giving up everything or most of what they knew before and at the same time feeling like a very different person.
I now look in the mirror and see an over weight flabby women, in a broken body, who has absolutely no confidence in her looks and body anymore. Who craves love and affection when once she was extremely independent. I see insecurity, I see a women who cannot remember anything from one minute to the next. How will this women ever do her job well again, be a good partner, friend and mum?
I look in the mirror and I now see a mum. I’m finally a fully fledged mum. A mum of a beautiful baby girl and I know how incredibly lucky I am to be so blessed. A mum that makes a little girl very happy. The same little girl who surprises and delights me everyday with her determination, cheekiness and unfailing love.
Three months have passed and I am beginning to get used to my new identity. There are some things I need to change like my weight and my confidence, neither of them easy to sort given the circumstances but I always was up for a challenge and I think deep down I probably am the person I always was I just need to work a bit harder to find her.
A Guest Blog from Amy Coole
Amy is a newly fledged mum of one beautiful baby girl, quickly approaching her 40th birthday. She was once described as alphabet spaghetti and definitely not champagne. She works as an Assistant Headteacher which she loves despite the long hours and challenges faced. She is an owner of a crazy puppy which adds to the daily chaos of motherhood. Before becoming a mother Amy was a swimmer, a photographer, a traveller and lover of art, music and food and she looks forward to working out how to integrate these back into her life.