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New mum and not sure who I am anymore

(21 Posts)
pookysarah Tue 15-Jan-13 17:54:11

I'm 35 and have a 20 week old son, who I absolutely adore. I desperately wanted to be a Mum, and I am grateful every day that I managed to conceive and have a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby. So don't get me wrong.

All of that said, I'm finding adjusting to motherhood is a real struggle. I'm finding I don't really know who I am in this new all consuming role. I'm scared that I'll get swallowed up by it all and wake up in a few years wondering what happened to me! I find myself really missing my professional career, my financial independence, having my body to myself, having a social life beyond baby etc.

I had a fairly traumatic birth, and still feel physically damaged. I'm breastfeeding and sometimes don't know where I end and baby begins. My libido has vanished. I worry I'm not the woman my husband married. My baby refuses anything but the boob, so I can't be away from him for more than a few hours - making time to myself scarce. Sleep is still endlessly disrupted (?4 month regression) so I'm exhausted.

I've thrown myself in to meeting new mums, but I'm finding that there's only so much baby-talk I can do before I feel like I'm going mad. I know the time I have with my son as a baby is all too brief, and that I need to make the most of it, but I'm worried that feeling this lost will impact on my son.

Does this make sense to anyone?

Aranea Tue 15-Jan-13 17:59:07

It's normal to feel that way. And don't worry about your feelings impacting on your son, he will be fine. You sound as though you're doing a great job.

I remember feeling as though I had been lifted out of my old life and plonked down in a new one. I think the best thing to do is embrace the new life and not think in terms of getting your life back. Worked for me, anyway. It is a very strange experience having your first baby, isn't it? Very intense and overwhelming.

mermaid101 Tue 15-Jan-13 19:52:26

Makes total sense to my Pooky. I could have written your post, down to our ages and feelings of gratitude for a safe pregnancy and healthy baby.

My DC is now 15 month old and I can tell you that it does get better. Are you planning to go back to work at any point? That made a difference to me.

I know how you feel about the loss of "you". I also really, really miss my old social life. Even though I still go out (not nearly as much as I used to) it doesn't really feel the same.

However, I feel I am slowly adjusting. One thing I realised I was doing, was hankering after a life I hadn't had since I was in my early twenties.

Not much advice really, but I hear you! Try not to worry. It will all be OK in the end!

funnylittlekaty Tue 15-Jan-13 19:57:26

It passes. It really does. Soon your little one will be eating, pottering round, going off to nursery etc etc. When my fun ruiner, I mean bundle of joy, was 4 months old I used to look at the mummies with toddlers in their pushchairs and think "How? How did you get your baby to that age? I can't ever see me being able to do that". Now my little fellow is 20 months and I'm back at work, which I love. You'll get your life back, it'll be different, but still yours.
4 months is hard, everyone says the newborn phase is tricky but by 4 months it's all becoming quite relentless. That's what I found anyway.
Good luck...grin

Nevercan Tue 15-Jan-13 20:02:20

Totally it took me a long time to adjust to maternity leave both times. I went back to work once my year was up three days a week with dd1 and dd2 and that works as a nice balance for me. I missed work. You need to do what suits you.

Shakey1500 Tue 15-Jan-13 20:02:57

Makes perfect sense, totally understandable and totally normal.

I felt the same but DS was FF not BF so I have no experience with that regard.

What I do know is that it's important to have "you" time. Accept help from anywhere and everywhere (that you feel comfortable with). I know that may be tricky with BF etc. It's difficult even to just have a coffee/wee/shower in peace isn't it? If you have any previous hobbies, do all you can to keep them up as it will link you to the "old you".

I was incredibly lucky to have support and was back on the stage within 6 months. It was a lifesaver and I positively lived for rehearsals, walking out the door and being able to breathe!

QTPie Tue 15-Jan-13 21:01:11

Are you on maternity leave? Do you plan to go back? Full time motherhood is not for everyone. Focus on that.

Breastfeeding starts to become a LOT less demanding once you start (and establish) weaning: we dropped to 3 feeds a day (on waking, after his afternoon nap (so about 4pm) and bedtime) at 7 months. Then you have much more freedom to spend more time away from the baby.

When you baby wakes, is he hungry? Are you feeding back to sleep or managing to settle him by other means? Does your husband share the settling?

What leisure things did you do before your son was born? Sport? Gym? Swimming? Yoga/Pilates? Going to the cinema with friends? Have you restarted that? It is amazing what you can fit in between breastfeeding... smile

20 weeks is still early days: I found by 9/10 months that I was feeling pretty "normal" again (although I chose not to go back to work, my thoughts were my own, I was a lot less tied down with the breastfeeding, I could get on with things again). I am afraid that nothing will be quite the same again (well maybe when they go off to university): there will always be someone with needs yelling for attention.... But you get a new you who has an awful lot more time for yourself and your own interests again.

QT

LaCiccolina Tue 15-Jan-13 21:08:49

It's been 20wks. In no other area of ur life would u take 20wks as being a long time. A new relationship of 5mths? Barely started. A new job? U would give it a year at least. But for some reason we berate ourselves for not being mum in what is a very short amount of time.

My birth scared me witless. I was shocked by this mewling thing that wouldn't give me a minutes peace but that I loved so tremendously. Nothing has been a greater challenge or hardship or so bloody fantastic. It took nearly a year for me to really begin to make peace with my new self. I thought it would be do much quicker I truly did.

At dd2 now I'm comfortable again. I still get shocked by how mummy orientated this small thing is. I still don't get why I am. I'm learning and loving it. But it's taken time. It's the best journey and uve only just started out.

Sleep easy and good luck

PoppyWearer Tue 15-Jan-13 21:16:06

OP, your post makes total sense to me.

I remember with DC1 reaching the 9-month mark, having gone back to work at 6mo, and suddenly something clicked and the fog lifted. I started paying a bit more attention to my appearance, myself, etc. 9 months seemed to be the time when that happened for a lot of my friends - I guess it's when the babies start sitting up and being a bit more independent and looking for their independence. For me it was also when DC1 finally gave up the fight and took a bottle. It was another few months before I addressed the baby weight.

Can you arrange to go out for a meal with a non-mum friend (not DH!) for an hour or two, for a glass of wine and a gossip? Or to a spa for a massage or whatever you like? It's amazing how even an hour away from being Mummy can make a big difference.

After DC2 (he's now 16mo, I am now a SAHM) I would say it's taking even longer to "find myself" again, but then I am also a different person now to who I used to be, and you need to embrace that too. But 20wo is still early, and you sound as if some counselling about the birth might help you.

Good luck x

LadyWidmerpool Tue 15-Jan-13 21:23:59

It gets easier. (And harder, but in different ways!) Your baby will grow less dependent and will BF less and hopefully sleep better (which might help the libido!) Be kind to yourself and remember you are still recovering from nine months of pregnancy and a difficult birth. 20 weeks is no time at all. Congratulations on your baby!

whatsoever Tue 15-Jan-13 21:30:11

I feel/felt very similar (my DS is 13 weeks now). I thought I had PND at one point, then realised I wa mourning my old self but not yet sure who my new self was. I identify with pretty much ever element of what you've said. I'm assuming time with just normalise everything.

OliviaPeacein2013Mumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Jan-13 21:51:19

Yes sort of regarding normalisation whatsoever but someone once said to me that you have a "new normal"

For me, it was also a bit of a con that you would just get the hang of doing x or y and then the baby would move on developmentally meaning that you were back at learning stage again..hmm but you do get used to it.

Another wise thing that I was told re: meeting people is that the mums you meet don't have to be your friends, they are colleagues (i.e. you don't/wouldn't expect to get on with everyone in a work environment)

Anyway, must get abck to work but best of luck with it all OP, you'll get there.

whatsoever Tue 15-Jan-13 21:56:03

The colleagues thing is really interesting, I like that analogy a lot. The 'new normal' is exactly what I was trying to say but without the necessary eloquence too grin

Missymoomum Wed 16-Jan-13 05:52:33

I agree about the 'new normal'. At 20 weeks you are still right at the beginning of your 'new life' and it does take time to get used to it. I remember when my DS was that age and i used to wish i could just pop out somewhere rather than it feeling like a military operation. With practice, you learn to give yourself time to get ready more in advance. Even though my youngest is now 4.5 i still sometimes wish back to my old life when i wasn't relied on to make sure everyone was fed at mealtimes etc but i wouldn't change it for the world!! It will get better!

matana Wed 16-Jan-13 09:22:33

I like 'new normal' too. If it gives you any kind of reassurance OP my DS is now 2.1 and it's like i've known him all my life iyswim? I can remember life before him, but no longer feel how life was before him. At points i miss how it felt to just have to think about DH and I, go anywhere any time, the freedom that comes with being responsible only for yourself. But on the whole I love the new normal, i'm excited about our future - together - and am a little bit sad for each new milestone because i'll never experience it again.

Having said all this, i wonder if it's worth just talking to your GP about your feelings in case there's something in them? You don't say whether you are going back to work. I found that knowing I had to go back to work gave me the impetus to just enjoy my mat leave because i knew i'd miss my DS when i went back. It's true that i now go to work for a rest! It reminds me that I am much, much more than a mother and a wife.

As for meeting other mums, i have to say that i've never done this (other than friends who also happen to be mums). I'm not good at small talk anyway, but find constant baby talk utterly boring and actively avoid it if at all possible when i take DS to parks etc. Apart from anything else, other mums can be very competitive and can make you feel worse. I'm all for getting out and about as much as possible, but it doesn't always have to centre on places other mums gather.

pookysarah Wed 16-Jan-13 09:40:05

Thank you everyone - it helps to hear your stories.

In the early newborn days in particular, I felt like my real life was still somewhere out there, and that I'd been transported to some strange parallel universe.
It's taken a while to realise I can never go back!

I do wonder if the mat leave "mummy bubble" isn't the new real world either.

You're very right - 20 weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Somehow the relentless 24 hours a day/7 days a week intensity of it makes it feel like forever.

I am planning on going back to work 3 days a week in August when DS will be 11 months old. When I was pregnant I had a fantasy that I'd love mat leave/being a SAHM so much that I'd never want to go back. It turns out that my professional self is a big part of my identity and I really miss it.

I really like the concept of thinking of other Mums as colleagues. I somehow feel a pressure to make "new mummy friends" everywhere I go, even though usually the only thing we have in common is having given birth. I was sat somewhere the other day with an extended conversation about baby earwax going on and I wanted to shove forks in my eyes..

I do have an appointment with my GP - I was wondering about PPD. But I don't think I'm depressed - just adjusting and finding it tough.

Thank you everyone.

stargirl1701 Wed 16-Jan-13 10:17:03

Hi. I'm 35 and have an 18 week old baby. I would highly recommend reading 'What Mothers Do'. It really helped me understand what I was feeling.

Congrats on the LO. grin

Metromummy Wed 16-Jan-13 13:28:44

Congrats on your LO and don't worry, from what I gather all of your feelings are completely normal. At 20 weeks you still have hormones raging all over the place and if your LO isn't sleeping through, the sleep deprivation will be a factor in how your feeling. I love my little man more than anything and by all accounts he's an easy baby, but being a full-time mother, especially if you've had a career that you've enjoyed, is a really big change. Sebbie had colic in the early days and lots of regurgitation at one point and I remember longing to wear clothes that were baby vomit free! I started baking because I missed deadlines and the feeling of accomplishing a set task during the day. Sadly, it did nothing got my waistline but at least it helped me to identify that there was a problem that I needed to face. And I know what you mean about other mums. We moved to a new area four months in and it's been so hard to meet other mothers. It's almost like dating again! You don't want to come on too strong but it would be nice to get past the initial baby centric small talk!
I guess what I'm trying to say is hang in there. Things will get easier (and more difficult in other respects) but it will get more and more rewarding every day. Try and talk to someone about how your feeling and remember that full-time motherhood isn't for everyone. I'm desperately trying to find a new direction with my legal career that will just let me work a couple of days a week. Fingers crossed! Big hug x

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 16-Jan-13 13:33:41

Was going to recommend What Mothers Do too smile. This stage is intense. You've got the pig and birth to recover from, you've had huge hormonal changes and sleep deprivation too. It's no wonder you feel like you do.

Think you might find birth trauma association useful, birth trauma can have a much bigger effect than many people realise.

Love the colleagues analogy too smile

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 16-Jan-13 13:36:12

Just wanted to add theses links, they might help with the sleep here and here

pookysarah Wed 16-Jan-13 20:23:49

Thanks for the "What Mothers Do" suggestion - I've ordered it already!

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