Anxiety, Baby, Bipolar, Family, Love, New Baby, New Beginnings, New Parent, Newborn, Parent, Parenthood, Psychiatrist, Rainbow Baby, Relationships, Treatment

Life Anew

It has been just over a month since my beautiful daughter was born, and our lives have completely changed since then. Everything about us has changed, from the structure of our day and the amount of sleep we get, to the way we think and our reasons for the decisions we make and the things we do.
Life has taken on a new meaning in the past few weeks. Everything we do has to be scheduled around our little one from housework to leisure time. Even as I type this post my daughter is sleeping in my arms because if I put her into her bassinet and she is not completely asleep she will wake up. I would normally put the laptop away and devote my full attention to my daughter but tonight I have decided to tend to my daughter’s needs and do something for myself.
As a parent and especially as a new parent, one of the first challenges you will face is balancing your needs with your child’s. As a new parent you will struggle to find the time to do the things you used to do before your baby arrived. A lot of people will tell themselves that they can no longer do the things they used to enjoy, that they no longer have time to read, exercise, play their video games or do some craft.
Since I have had my first child after most of the women around me, I have been able to learn from the things I have observed. I have noticed that a lot of mothers take less care of themselves as they begin to make their newborn baby the focus of their lives. While I was in hospital after my little one was born, the nurse asked me if I had a shower yet. I told her that I was waiting for my husband to come back so that he could stay with the baby while I showered. What came next was a lecture I didn’t expect but it was something I needed to hear. The nurse told me that my baby wasn’t the most important person, that I was the most important and that I had to take care of myself in order to be able to take care of my child. It was difficult to hear this, especially hearing that I had to come before my child but when I thought about it, I began to really understand what she meant.
I’ve seen many women neglect themselves as they get caught up in their role as a mother, because they believe they need to martyr themselves to be a good parent. My psychiatrist told me that post-natal depression in a way is grieving the loss of who one was before their child was born. He also told me that one of the ways to treat post-natal depression is for the parent to start doing the things they used to enjoy before they had their child, whether it be a craft or exercise. I’ve kept all of these things in mind and as someone who has bipolar, I decided that it was very important to take care of myself, to make time for myself and ensure that I don’t lose myself in the journey of parenthood.
As a person who has bipolar, I have an increased risk of post-natal depression. If you follow my blog, you know that I have spent the past few years working on ways to prevent going into a depressive or manic phase. So, I thought of all the ways I can try and reduce the likelihood of me getting post-natal depression. I am obviously not a mental health professional and I cannot say that my method will ultimately work. I thought more about the things that my psychiatrist and the nurse at the hospital said to me right after my daughter was born and used these things to develop my approach to parenthood. Whilst I decided that I would not lose who I am as a person now that I am a parent, I can’t ignore the fact that I am no longer the same person I was before my daughter was person.
As much as the past few weeks have been about getting to know my daughter and my new role as a mother, it has also been about learning more about myself and how to take better care of myself. I’ve learned that taking care of myself is not only making time to be able to clean, do my tapestries and read but it’s also making sure I slow down and spend time bonding with my daughter. I’ve realised that taking care of myself involves making the most out of my time with my baby. I love being a mother and being able to enjoy these moments is so important to me. I’ve learned that being a mother is an important part of who I am. I have wanted more than anything to be a mother and after my miscarriages I thought that there was a real possibility that I would not have children and I had to try and accept that I may never have children. I have been blessed with my child and while there are many parts to who I am, being a mother and raising my child is the most important and meaningful thing I will ever do and I don’t want to let any of it slip past me.
When you are expecting, the people who have already made it into the parent club will tell you to appreciate and take in as much as you can because time will seem to escape you. And it is true, time will fly by so fast, in the blink of an eye your baby is already almost 6 weeks old. While I make time to do my chores, I also spend a lot of time with my daughter. Sometimes you just have to maintain the house and skip the big spring cleans because that is time with your baby that you will never get back. There will be plenty of time to do the housework, but you won’t be able to make up for lost time with your little one. I don’t want to wake up one day to realise my daughter is an adult and regret all the time I chose to do things that could have been dealt with later instead of spending time with her.
I have truly been enjoying all of these special moments with my daughter and being a mother has been the most rewarding experience of my life. These past five and a half weeks have been the most amazing time. I look forward to all the new experiences that will come with parenting and making wonderful memories with my baby girl. I look forward to learning to balance ‘me-time’ with a social life, housework and parenting. It’s not always going to be easy, but it will be the best journey I will ever go on.

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