It’s taken me a long time to write this, because everything kept changing.
Don’t get me wrong the changes are positive but it’s true what people say – NOTHING can prepare you for having a child.
Family, friends, pets and other influences aside, as stripped-back individuals we all share and inherent and universal desire to belong.
My head is about half in everything at the moment. If my full attention is with anything I’m lucky. Peggy, who is now five and a half months old always has at least half of me.
Although I was prepared for the commitment a baby would require, I didn’t anticipate quite how much of my personal headspace she would take up and how my insight into and sensitivity of things could shift so dramatically.
In discovering pregnancy a woman will make a huge shift in thinking. What the hormones do to the brain can have a massive impact on your mental health. For me, the hormones continue to be my biggest challenge.
I’m beginning to feel a little more normal now Peggy is becoming a little person, procrastinating a little less and feeling more and more confident in myself again.
I guess I didn’t really change that much, even though throughout my pregnancy and following the birth I felt like a completely different person.
It’s so hard to explain pregnancy, the rollercoaster of emotions you feel and being a mamma but I’d like to try my best.
My first trimester was highly emotional. I was excited and anxious, full of energy then depleted. My body chemistry changed and with it I felt a loss of control in my ability to know myself.
I probably underestimated how much being pregnant in a new relationship would affect my maternal self and mental state in those first testing few months.
The main thing I remember from that first stage was my comfort barriers tightening. I’m normally a great communicator but at times I’d feel incapable of understanding my own emotions never mind be able to tell even my partner how I felt.
I managed to eat well – it’s so important. I filled my body with loads of fruit and vegetables and iron high foods and I kept a regular yoga practice, which I think kept me sane.
As someone who had a regular practice before pregnancy it was OK for me to keep my practice up, however you do need to be cautious. If you’re new to yoga doing a course is possibly one of the best things you could do.
I read that two-thirds of pregnant women experiences back pain. Pelvic tilts and regular movement of the spine can offer relief, especially during the second half of pregnancy when you are heavier.
Exercise during your pregnancy will also help an easier birth and help you bounce back after.
My only real craving was samosas with salad cream, but I’m not even sure if that was a craving or just a great idea, oh and beer, a cold refreshing lager was often on my mind. Thinking back, I did eat a lot of samosas. Oh and meat, how could I forget. Towards the end of my first trimester I craved lasagna after about ten years of being a veggie!
I’ve not eaten it since but like most things with pregnancy, you just have to go with what feels right.
I drank alcohol from time to time too. More and more there is strong research to say that such a small amount of alcohol goes into the blood and therefore milk, so as long as its just a wee tipple I think it’s OK. I take the same line with breastfeeding.
My second and third trimester brought about more physical challenges.
Over my pregnancy I gained about two and a half stones – a stone of which was Peggy. It’s not a huge amount, but as a teenager and into my 20’s I went through years of eating disorders so weight gain brought up some fairly challenging emotions.
Again, yoga was a lifeline, keeping me active, mindful, helping me stay in a positive mental state and shifting the other aches and pain I faced in later pregnancy.
More and more I felt more like I was becoming a ‘mother’. At times though I felt like my identity as ‘Rosie’ was disappearing. Where did being a mother leave me as the yoga teacher, the friend, the sister and the girlfriend?
Towards the end of my second trimester I felt something change as I accepted ‘I am a mother but that’s not what defines me’.
I opted for a water birth.
I was at home when my waters broke – moving between the bath and my yoga mat with the pre-labour contractions. Another part of pregnancy I was entirely unprepared for. Those eight or so hours in the lead up to my waters breaking were probably the worst. Some raspberry leaf tea my sister bought me, posh bath bubbles and my yoga mat were saviours at this point.
I was only in the pool two hours, so I had an extremely short and easy birth. I really sympathise for women who endure a much longer birthing period as those two hours were testing. I grunted a lot and either wanted people to get me something or get out of my way.
She was born at 8.58am, Peggy Rita Scott. On the drive home Peggy drifted into her first car nap so we swung by the pub for a cheeky celebratory Guinness.
Until it happened I didn’t fully comprehend the changes my body would undergo during pregnancy, in fact it was only post pregnancy that I really felt it, as my body slowly felt its way back to how it was before.
Living as a family brings new challenges most days.
As much as I try to avoid gender biases, I’ve feel I’ve almost been programmed to be a ‘mother’, subject to messages my whole life. I also feel a maternal instinct and breastfeed which gives me a certainty with Peggy. My partner has to endure more screams and scowls, again another thing it’s hard to anticipate and to work through together.
Fathers have it tough. For them it’s on the job training and it takes a huge amount of strength and patience.
Co-parenting is also no easy task. Going from a fun filled happy-go-lucky duo to a haphazard tired trio is a huge dynamic shift. We talk a lot, we argue, we try to give each other space and we aim to support each other in having and living out dreams.
Looking into the eyes of someone seeing everything for the first time is incredible, sharing that moment with someone you adore is another level of fulfilment.
You need energy day and night. You don’t prepare for weird bladder problems or the huge amounts of hair loss following birth, you don’t realize quite how demanding babies can be, or how your agenda will be governed by feeding the baby and chores.
You can’t imagine the adorable moments where you stare at your little one for hours because nothing else matters more, or the way they make you feel the first time they reach for you with both hands.
Nobody warns you that having the copper coil might reduce your milk supply. Nobody tells you how draining breastfeeding can be and how wrong it can go. Because nobody can – it’s so different for each woman.
Sometimes I just want my old lifestyle back, but that’s OK. I feel justified in wanting this.
I now just need to tweak life from time to time, to make room for the on-going changes, a shed load of toys and story time.
The magical moments already outweigh my momentary selfish desires.
I’m proud to be on this journey. Mothers all around me are authentic inspirational women, massively multi-dimensional and this inspires me every day.
Be around those who support and inspire you and your baby and be ready to be there for others, as a parent community is so important. A close friend said to me “Bringing up a baby is the job of a tribe”.
Never lose yourself in the process of loving someone else, not even your child.
Mamma, Yoga Teacher, Holistic Therapist, Director of Shanti Bee