Written By Han McKimm
Yes you will! To say the first few weeks/months post birth are wild, is an understatement. Everyone’s experience is so different, but from chatting with friends, I think we all go through a period at some point where you wonder whether this is just life now. Not necessarily in a negative way, more just that you feel like you need to accept a new way of life and a new version of yourself that is very different to before.
Although life definitely does change after having your first child, I can honestly say that I do feel ‘myself’ again. Harper is 9 months old as I write this piece and I now feel very close to my usual self in terms of energy levels, physical strength, sleeping patterns and general happiness. I’ve really only just turned this corner and it took me a lot longer than I expected, so I did start to wonder whether I was just going to be a bit different moving forward. A bit more tired, a bit less enthusiastic, a lot less fit and a little bit stressed all the time. I don’t mean to paint the past 9 months as a negative time, because it has been the most enjoyable 9 months of my life so far. But now when I reflect, I know that I wasn’t completely myself and I did start to feel like that was just going to be the new me.
I remember one morning waking up to Harper and thinking, ‘I’m just going to be tired every day now for the rest of my life’. This sounds a bit dramatic now, but it’s how I felt in the moment. Even once Harper started to sleep well, I’d still wake through the night and wait for her to cry so it took a while for me to get my own sleep back on track. Now I sleep well most nights (when someone isn’t snoring beside me…) and I wake up with energy, ready to start the day.
I also realise now that I sometimes found it difficult to look forward to things, social outings could make me feel a little anxious rather than excited. Whereas now, I feel so much more comfortable leaving Harper with Matt or our parents, that I can genuinely get excited about catching up with friends. There is still a fair bit of planning and preparation involved, but it is so worth it to leave the house wearing a normal bra and carrying a handbag rather than a nappy bag.
The last piece of the puzzle for me has been getting back into some regular exercise again. I was very sporadically squeezing in a Pilates class here and there and taking Harper for walks, but nothing that felt like it was just for me. Since getting my sleep back on track, I’ve had the energy to exercise consistently again. I’ve been following our 10km running program and am absolutely loving it. I was nervous to start it, because I actually didn’t think I was going to be able to stick to it. So to now be 2 weeks away from finishing the program, I realise how far I’ve come in the last couple of months.
It can be hard to see past the phase you are in, even though you look around and see that life does go on and babies turn into toddlers, and one day turn into adults themselves. So I don’t think it hurts to be reminded that every phase is temporary and the next stage is just around the corner. When you’re feeling a bit stuck, try to talk to someone who has been through it, it can really help to talk to someone other than your partner to zoom out a bit and change your perspective.
Everyone’s experience will be so different, there is no specific time-frame or pathway with a baby. I don’t know what is around the corner for us, but right now I’ve been able to find a groove that works for our family and allows me to feel like myself again. So if you are in the early days with your bub and are wondering when or if you are ever going to be you again, know that it will happen, gradually but also suddenly at the same time.