During pregnancy the thought of childbirth didn’t phase me. I was keen to understand my options, yes. I read a useful book, yes. And wrote a birth plan, yes. I hoped as many of my wishes would be accommodated but was open to things not necessarily going to plan [they didn’t. I genuinely don’t look back with any remorse]. Not once did the inevitable pain of labour bother me. You see, I’d run five marathons. Three out of the five were in consecutive months of the same year. Twenty two weeks of six days out of seven, twice daily, training sessions. Physically, I’d have it covered. Emotionally, I’d had my fair share of tests too. Beyond being at my Mother’s bedside, watching her die over a period of 36 hours, there’d been a decade of disordered eating, a pretty destructive first relationship from 18-21 and far more enjoyable foreign exchange trips abroad, alone, from the age of 14. But the minute those first contractions of labour started to hit I knew Motherhood was going to tear strips off me.
Our daughter arrived at a particularly difficult, emotional time. Unexpected and significant changes in our family more or less coincided with her birth and the subsequent trying times of those first ninety days – and indeed beyond. She’ll be two in less than a couple of months and it’s taken me this long to hold my hands up and more frequently acknowledge, especially to myself, I can’t bounce back as well as I used to. I cling so desperately to a clean house and a well turned out family as an outward declaration that, of course, we’ve all got our sh*t together – when all the while I’m casually unravelling inside. I only ever insist on ironed clothes on a particularly bad day. Our unit is probably happiest when it all hangs out and we stop giving a damn.
I’m a shouter not a crier. But how I wish so much when the steam is billowing out of my ears as yet another drawer is emptied or sleep resisted that I could sit down and sob. I find a good cry so therapeutic but it take days of bellowing “Stop, StOP, STOP” for that emotional release to kick in. It’s like my physical functions fight against my emotional desperation when, as I said, all I know I need is a really, really good cry. It’s been a fraught week or so but things finally got better when I started to vocalise how I was feeling like an anxious mess. Simply uttering the words helped me better see through the fog and then finally, as I held our first born so tight that evening and she drifted off to sleep, over my shoulder, her head nestled under my chin, I cried and cried and cried.
I’m very good at making things more difficult for myself and practicalities don’t come easy. I’d also do well to go to bed earlier, drink less wine at night and even less black, black coffee first thing in the morning. It’s probably the adrenaline peaks that are most exhausting; the “jesus f*cking christ, not the biro there…” [I promise these are thoughts not words uttered out loud… *cough*] or “how the hell did you get to that height in under 4 seconds?!” to “oh my goodness me, you are the smartest and most beautiful being to ever grace this planet.” Etc / repeat about nine billion times a day. It’s exhausting, it’s wearing and, as one of my most wonderful friend’s equally wonderful Mum, said “Motherhood removes a layer of skin”.
But in the process it brings with it the most unimaginable joy. And is it such a bad thing that it has revealed some of my most prominent weaknesses? So here’s to letting it all hang out, sharing more in times of difficulty and never, ever forgetting that we are all there for one another xxx