There is something about motherhood that prompts us to believe we can do it all.
In many ways this is a good thing- a new confidence in ourselves as the centre of the universe for our tiny beings. We may find ourselves in awe of the capabilities of our bodies and minds. Our capacity to grow, birth, feed and mother our babies, to run households, maintain relationships and friendships, and perhaps to work outside the home too. An acknowledgement of our greatness… *mega lolz*.
But how much can we really take on?
We do not have a bottomless pit of reserves. My usual go to tactics are to keep topping them up with sugar and caffeine, and to use the magic of Rioja to soothe me into my evenings. This was going ok, really. I had almost full time toddledom, he was growing and developing ahead of schedule. I was easing him (ha! There was nothing easy about it…) into a couple of mornings at preschool. I was growing a business doing work that I LOVE. I was an alright wife. (Hubs will definitely comment in disagreement. But I consider myself adequate on this front, that’s what matters, right?!) We were buying our first house. We were making good progress on all fronts.
And then, a spanner in the works of my strategy. The small matter of a new pregnancy. And to be frank, I felt like CRAP. For a good few months. Shattered. Sickly. Weepy. Weak. Did I mention sickly? Inexplicably, deeply depressed for about 1 random hour each day. Anaemic and b12 deficient.
So what did I do? Take a bit of a break from work and decamp to my mum’s for respite? No.
We moved house. I demanded everything be put right yesterday. In the first month we had all the flooring redone, the whole house decorated, a lorry full of IKEA magic, and started arranging a new kitchen.
I took on my biggest ever hypnobirthing group. Partly through an aversion to the thought that I could exclude or let anyone down. Partly because I was so committed to growing my brand. This, in turn, goes back to a genuine desire to support as many families as possible. And round again to proving my own capabilities. To myself. Always to myself.
I signed up to The Baby Business School course, in determination to pursue the growth that was trickling my way.
As I emerged from that difficult first trimester, I was pretty pleased with how I’d maintained other areas of my life. Winning. Right?
As the pregnancy has gone on, I’ve continued in this way, the new kitchen has gone in, the garden is the next urgent project.
I started the new Pregnancy Relaxation Group sessions, which I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve met some amazing women, and seen a supportive and positive community growing in front of me (talking numbers, and bumps…). We’ve shared journeys, inspiration, info and concerns. It’s been super fulfilling and a lot of fun. But getting myself together to head out and set up in an evening after being up since 6 with toddles- TOUGH.
My March antenatal group was fully booked by the end of Jan- this was meant to be my last one. But the enquiries kept coming. I couldn’t resist (as per above). So I plotted in an extra course for the first weekend of April.
And then came the time when I REALLY had to start turning people away. Waaaaaahhhhhh. Hate it. It’s like turning down a gift. A really good gift as well, something you’ve had your eye on. When all your efforts have been so focussed on being a part of these journeys, growing your gorgeous community and sharing something so special with people…and then you have to say no. Struggled with this.
The whole time I continued to see my mamas I gently chastised them for planning to work late into their pregnancies. Sitting at their desks, the travelling, the stress, the lack of acknowledgement for what their bodies were going through and achieving. I encouraged them to finish sooner, to work from home, to take it easy, to put their pregnant selves first at this unique time.
But I’m different, right? I LOVE my work. I WANT to work. I CHOOSE to work. And toddles isn’t going to hand over his share of my time and energy. So I just carried on exactly the same. I convinced myself that I could switch off from my own advice. I would be ok. I could do it all.
Last weekend I saw my final antenatal group. They were a really fantastic couple of days, an amazing group, always in awe of how many fantastic people I get to meet. I loved it, as always, and as they left the room looking inspired and confident, I was delighted I had made it.
But as the adrenaline settled down, and the clear up went on, I started to feel the aches and pains. The exhaustion. Husband wasn’t around as he usually is to help me. It felt like a mountain to climb. I got myself sorted and made it outside to wait for my taxi. As I struggled to get the external banner back through the gate, I felt something take a hit in my groin. Aaaggghhhhh.
I got home, laid on the sofa, and had a good cry. Not really because of the aches and pains. I felt vulnerable, a bit pathetic, sad and relieved to have met my commitments and be done with the work I love for a little while. Overwhelmed by the thought of toddles arriving home needing my attention and energy when I just NEEDED to sleep. (Didn’t get better when he came in with his older cousin and trashed the house. Bending to the floor, it turns out, is my greatest physical challenge. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the fact that toddlers like to discard things to the floor. A lot. Put this together and it’s a whole lot of fun).
I barely slept that night, my relaxation CD and the breathing techniques eventually settled me, but I needed a full body massage. Or some reflexology. Or to sit in the bath for 3 solid days. Or a few glasses of Rioja *in my dreams*.
Enforced periods of rest this week have been helpful. Louis’s refusal to attend preschool holiday club as planned has not. My mum tipping up for a couple of days to take care of us both has been amazing. Hubs has stepped up his game and charged through the outstanding job list to ease my nerves.
I am committed to getting myself into a good place. To take my own advice for these remaining weeks. To accept that I cannot, and should not aim to be doing everything, all at once, and that its ok to take a break.
So now, eventually, I find myself ‘done’. Courses done, relaxation groups done. Of course, I’m still “working”. I’m blogging for my site (hi there). I’m supporting my clients along their individual paths. I’ve got a sling session and a cake morning booked in- these are the fun things- hanging out with my gang, passing the pregnancy time away. I’ve booked up a group of gorgeous mamas for when I return to work in July. I’m musing over more dates.
But ultimately, I’m looking to adapt a maternity leave mentality. To take all the rest and the help I am offered. I’m writing this in bed at 8.30am whilst hubs and toddles make breakfast/ build a super track/ ride round downstairs on his bike.
I am already planning an afternoon nap. I’m booking in extra reflexology tomorrow. I’ve made it clear that light touch massage needs to play a bigger part in our evenings. Even got my feet rubbed last night #firsttimein10years
So is there a point to this post? Not sure. I’ve found it quite a therapeutic write, slapping myself on the wrist and acknowledging a need to make a change for these remaining weeks.
And for you? I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and remember that, whilst pregnancy is healthy and wonderful in many ways, it’s a huge exertion on your body. And hormones. And mind. And emotions. And belly. (Sure you’ve noticed that one).
You are doing enough. You are giving enough. You are enough.
Happy resting mamas x