The first year after having a baby is rough huh.
My identity took a hit in such a big way in those first few months. I didn't know that 'who I was' was so tied up in 'what I do with my time' but it was.
I remember really struggling in the early months with days that (felt to me) like they were not purposeful. I was on a three hour cycle of breast feed, bottle feed, tube feed, pump, sleep- rinse and repeat. I felt like I achieved nothing (although of course I did I KEPT MY BABY ALIVE which is amazing in itself.)
In those early months everything is inward focused- just baby and me. No one else can really penetrate that bubble and it feels so lonely.
Gradually as time went on, as A grew and became slightly less dependant, I was able to lift my head and start to look outwards, beyond us. I was able to meet friends for coffees again. I was able to go back to church and connect groups. I was able to spend time with Matt. These were just short snippets of time where it wasn't just 'me and baby' but of course gradually these times became more and more often.
I started doing a little work again when A was about 7 months old and it was SO amazing to feel like 'me Jenn' again instead of 'Mama Jenn.' I really valued the times I could work as 'me' time, which is so strange as I never would have felt like work was 'me time' in the past. Just a few hours to talk to and listen to adult conversation, to snatch a coffee and think about things beyond my world was so good for the soul.
For 2 years (during pregnancy and A's first year) I did not take any care around what I ate. I piled on the kgs in a serious way when pregnant and they dropped slowly after she was born. In that time I barely exercised either. I remember trying to work out again when A was about 3 months old and I ended up nearly fainting on my kitchen floor. I wasn't ready yet and that was ok. But now, as she has turned 1, I have started to do more regular exercise and be much more aware about what I'm eating (not in a restrictive way- in a healthy 'giving my body good fuel' way.) It feels so nice to be taking care of my body and I am feeling much healthier and stronger than I have in a long time.
And Matt and I managed our first night away from A last weekend. It was such a great time to reconnect and talk and just 'be' together. We missed A lots, but 24 hours was a good time to be able to recharge our marriage again before picking her up.
Baby A herself has changed too of course. She doesn't need me to be with her all the time now, and I have loved seeing her grow from a dependent newborn to a more independent happy toddler. She is happy with others, and LOVES being with other children, which means I am happy to leave her in care as I work more.
Gradually over the year I feel like I've moved from being an insular inward facing person to opening up again and being 'me' again- albiet with a baby in tow- but she makes life so much richer!
I feel like I have found my rhythm again. As a family we've settled into a nice pattern of daily life, with both Matt and I having time for us and ourselves with plenty of family time thrown in.
Baby A brings such richness and joy to our lives everyday and it's so nice to finally be able to work out who we are as individuals and as a family.