I love being a mum. Becoming a mother was one of the most exciting, miraculous, amazing and also scary times of my life. My birthing plan went out of the window when I needed an emergency caesarean but once our daughter was born she was layed on my chest, I stared at her enormous eyes in wonderment.
She was beautiful, healthy and I was totally in love!
The next few weeks passed in a blur or exhaustion, emotions, hormones and stress as we navigated the demands of our bundle of joy. It was a rollercoaster, as any new parent will tell you. The demands continued for many years and I, like millions before me, learned on the job. Many rewards came along: the smiles, first steps, first words (including “muma”) …and fast forward, there were Mother’s Day cards, bunches of flowers and breakfast in bed.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you with pregnancy and parenting these days. But there are a few things no one tells you and it can be reassuring to know those things and take action if or when needed.
There’s a huge shift in your identity.
Becoming a mum brings with it strong feelings, certainly happiness and fulfilment, but also self-doubt, frustration and struggles. Challenges are normal, but in our seemingly glossy Instagram world they are rarely talked about, unless there are more serious mental health issues such as postnatal depression. One brave doctor shares her experience of parenthood in a blog: Becoming a mum …what it feels like and things no one tells you!
Your relationship with dad will feel the strain.
New dads often feel incredibly proud, excited and also anxious and lost. Many experience mixed feelings as they sense the baby has taken first place in mum’s affections. It can be incredibly hard to admit feelings of jealousy or resentment, and even harder to talk about them as a couple. Fights are normal for every couple, even very loving happy couples.
There’s a fantasy that having a baby will bring you closer together, when in fact the reverse is more likely to be true, unless you learn to talk about the tricky subjects and grow in understanding and mutual support.
It’s vital to nurture the health of your relationship as a couple.
Being parents means dealing with a whole new set of challenges, beyond learning how to fit the car seat. There’s a whole new domestic load, financial load and emotional load to share. Talking about the nappies and needs are necessary, but hardly romantic. It’s easy for your relationship to become functional and love to very gradually get lost without you even realising unless you are intentional. It’s really important to create space for romance and to grow real and lasting intimacy that’s emotional as well as physical.
Great — and healthy — relationships don’t happen by accident, they take a little effort. But it’s worth it for the sake of your marriage and also your children — happy children are generally those with a stable home life and a happy mum and dad.
Toucan Together is a free app for couples. The Communication Module will help you talk more openly about your feelings with your partner, the good, the bad and the ugly! There are also great bonus videos for new parents to give you support and encouragement. GET STARTED | LOG IN