It’s such a cliché to say ‘Lottie is 5 months old next week, where has the time gone?’. But it’s true. It feels like yesterday that we brought her home from hospital, but it also feels like she’s always been with us. I know other new parents understand exactly what I’m talking about.
Looking back over the last 5 months, I would characterise the journey as a very enjoyable walk up a steep hill (or learning curve) that was constantly challenging. Over the past couple of weeks, the hill has levelled out and now it feels like I’m walking on flat ground. Still going forward, just not climbing. Incidentally, Lottie’s weight-growth chart is now on the more levelling out part of the line, not the sharp upward slope. So for me, the growth chart has tracked ‘baby difficulty’ in degrees. This correlation makes sense I guess since the first 5 months really is just about getting as much food and sleep happening to keep baby moving safely up that growth line and for me, food and sleep has been the most challenging part of being a new mum.
To celebrate the new ‘this isn’t as challenging all of a sudden’ period I’ve found myself in, I thought I’d share a before and after photo. That’s me on the left on one of the mornings the week I brought Lottie home from hospital. I clearly hadn’t had much sleep and looked (and felt) like I’d been dragged through a bush backwards. The photo on the right is me this week riding a bus into the city for a girls’ night out. I left Lottie home asleep with her other parent, and apart from some very full and painful boobs from missing the dream feed and not pumping because I couldn’t be bothered before I went to bed, it was amazing to have a chance to get out and socialise like I used to before I was pregnant.
What I won’t say here, however, is that by going out and socialising with friends, minus Lottie, I got a glimpse of my ‘old life’ or I had a chance to be the ‘old me’ again. It might be surprising to hear, I actually don’t feel like a different person now that I am a mother. I am still interested in all the same things as I used to be interested in. I still have the same friends and the same relationship with my husband and my family and friends that I used to have. I still have the same dress sense, the same Twitter addiction, I read and follow the same current affairs and news, and I like doing the same things in my free time, such as watching movies, studying, going to the football, eating out, following politics, catching up with friends. The only difference is, I have less of this free time now, and it’s more difficult to make plans spontaneously. And obviously I have a new topic of interest – Lottie. Before Lottie I would never have imagined I would find myself reading baby blogs and parenting websites, but now I have a new interest. Before Lottie, I didn’t find it interesting to talk to friends about the merits of different parenting methods, now I find these conversations relevant to my life.
The point I’m trying to make is that my new interest in being a parent hasn’t replaced my interest in other things. Since I’ve been on maternity leave, my life has changed considerably from when I was working every day, but this change is only temporary; I’m going back to work in March. And all the other things in my life have continued and my identity as ‘Vic the mum’ is the same identity as I had before. I don’t know if this is everyone’s experience, but since I’ve promised to document my journey as a new parent, I just felt this realisation was an important step on that journey.
When I started writing this post, when Lottie was only a couple of weeks old, I said: ‘life has to go on and for my life to go on happily, this baby needs to make everything about my already awesome life even better’. I can safely say, coming up to the five month mark, that my life as a mother has gone on very happily, and that Lottie has made me a happier person, but not a different person than I was before.