Wow, 2019. WHAT A YEAR. I know we say this every year but I genuinely can’t believe how fast year has gone. To think that I started this year halfway through my pregnancy and ended it with my 6 month old son is just crazy to me. It has been the most challenging and life-changing year I’ve had in all of my 28 years of living, so I thought that it was only fitting that I sit down and think about what I’ve learnt.
This is something that I’m trying to work on every day, because it’s a hard one. Especially when you’re so sleep deprived and spend half your days feeling like you’re wading through a fog. There are so many magical little moments in even the most mundane of days, we just have to be present enough to notice them. I’m determined to prioritise my meditation in 2020 to allow me to come back to the present moment when life gets too much, and truly acknowledge where I am and how incredible it is. I want to spend every day appreciating those little moments with Jacob.
Never has the word grateful had more meaning to me than it does now. Every day no matter how exhausted or beaten down I am, I start by day my saying ‘I am grateful for my family, my friends, my health and happiness, David and Jacob, I’m grateful that I woke up this morning.’ I’ve started doing it in front of Jacob to make it a daily ritual that we have together so that he grows up understanding how important being grateful is. No matter how shitty my day is, it reminds me that someone else is always worse off and I’m lucky to have so much where others have so little.
The importance of sleep
What is sleep? Before Jacob I couldn’t function off less than 8 hours sleep at night. I haven’t had an unbroken 8 hours sleep in 6 months. And I’ve survived! It’s crazy how little sleep you can function off. However, sleep deprivation is a dangerous thing. It can affect every aspect of your life. Your mood, your confidence, your relationships, your parenting. Jacob still isn’t sleeping through the night, but he’s definitely getting better and I feel like I’m a different person when we’ve both had a decent sleep. I want to start optimising the sleep I do have by establishing a relaxing bedtime routine so that I can feel a little more like me again, even on 4 hours sleep.
The power of relationships
I’ve experienced so many changes in relationships this year. My sister has moved to America which has been such an adjustment for us all. I see my other siblings a lot more now that we have Jacob and they’re really key to me maintaining some sanity on the days were it’s just been me and Jacob all day. I have so much more respect for my own parents now after experiencing what they have (and they done it 7 times). My relationship with David has faced its toughest challenge yet. I’ve felt a shift in how I can manage and maintain friendships. This year has taught me how much I value all of the relationships I have in my life, and how important it is to make the effort to maintain them. It proves to me that these relationships are key to my happiness and who I am, and I don’t have to lose them just because I’m someone’s mum. I just need to work a bit harder to nourish them.
The power of women
This year I turned 28, but I’ve never felt like more of a grown woman since becoming a mum. It really does make you feel like a proper adult doesn’t it? (Well, most of the time). I have also never felt more supported by other women. The women in my family, who rallied around me when I needed help. My friends who are always there to listen when I need to moan. My mum friends who I turn to for parenting advice. Even the midwives and the doctor that delivered Jacob. The things they did and the words they said to get me through that labour will never be forgotten. Women are incredible, and I have so much respect for them now. We are multi-faceted, with very different experiences but there is something within us that will always be connected. I have really felt the power of the female this year, which in turn has made me feel more connected to myself.
The power of social media
So this year I decided to start an Instagram account, purely because I just felt like since having Jacob I had so much to say and wanted to find people who would listen or could benefit from hearing about my experience. And I also thought it would be quite cool to look back on it as a journal when Jacob is older. I never expected the power that social media would have on me, both positive and negative. The amount of messages and comments of support and love I have had is overwhelming. I’m only at 900 followers which is nothing compared to a lot of people, but I still can’t believe that people take time out of their busy day to comment or read my captions. It makes me feel less alone, it has made me feel more inspired and creative. It has at times made me feel inadequate as I’ve fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others. But overall, it’s been a great learning experience and I’ve made so many new friends which as a stay at home mum, is so powerful.
It’s funny what being a mum does to you. In some ways it knocks you right down so that you have to start building yourself up from scratch again into this new and improved person. But it also gives you a confidence like I’ve never felt before. I look back on my 48 hour labour and feel SO proud. Look what I did! I look back on my 6 months of being a mum and it fills me with pride. Look how happy and healthy he is, I did that. My confidence in being a mum grows every day, and along with it brings a new confidence within myself that has spread into all areas of my life. I genuinely feel like I can do anything now. Which is part of the reason why I decided to make my Instagram and blog. I just had a moment of feeling fearless and went for it. I never would have thought that at 3 months postpartum I would be running my own fitness class but I just felt like it was what I was meant to be doing, so I worked hard and I did it. I’m excited to see where this confidence takes me next year.
You are more than what you look like
I have talked before about my body image issues which I’ve suffered with for years. If someone would have told me that 6 months postpartum I would be the happiest in myself than I’ve ever been, I would have thought that they were lying. I used to place so much value on what I looked like. Since that has been stripped back during motherhood as I spend most of my days in PJs with a bare face and mum tum, I’ve realised that I am so much more than what I look like (there’s that confidence again). I have wasted so much time worrying about how I look and not feeling good enough because of it and now I simply don’t have the time to worry about it anymore. I’m a good mum and Jacob being happy is my priority. I’m healthy and happy, and that’s all that matters and I’ve finally accepted my body for what it is. As he grows up, these are the values that I want to teach Jacob so I have to be an example of this every day. And for the first time, I genuinely think I am.