Before Boo I knew who I was. I generally liked who I was and was proud of my achievements. I knew my strengths and weaknesses and was OK with them. I generally liked how I looked and was confident.
Yes, I was anxious. Yes, I did panic. But, by and large, I was confident and happy. I was Kate.
Post Boo there have been lots of changes. Some of them are obvious. Some of them were wanted and wonderful. Some of them I’ve found really hard to adapt to.
1. Me time
I loved me time. Reading, running, walking, cooking. QUIET. No words but those floating in my brain. When Boo was a newborn I could still get some sort of me time – I could still have quiet when she napped. We walked a lot. As Boo has got older, I’ve found the constant noise and being pawed at challenging. I’ve adapted by having earlier bedtimes. This does mean I sacrifice time with M but I think we both appreciate some quiet time at the end of the day. One thing I have to be really careful about is putting my phone elsewhere during the day. When I feel overwhelmed and in need of space I tend to reach for my phone. I’ve found putting it in another room stops me from doing this. I just tell myself I can enjoy relaxing time later. And wish for 7pm!
2. My health
During my pregnancy I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum. It is brutal. A constant battle to make it hrough each moment without being overwhelmed by nausea and throwing up again. Around 18 weeks it started to subside but unnoticed I was really itchy. Turns out I had ICP. A fucker of a complication that makes your liver not work properly and you skin burn with itchiness. Most people get it late in pregnancy. I got it at 18 weeks. I was not prepared for it at all. I was exhausted, sick and miserable. Pregnancy was rough. But, I kept being told it would go away as soon as I gave birth. As you can imagine, I begged and begged to be induced. At 37 weeks baby day arrived and 2 great things were to happen. I would meet my baby. And my body wouldn’t be possessed by some itching demon. Well one out of 2 ain’t bad.
2 years later I am still fucking itchy. It has caused me numerous hospital admissions due to extreme pain around my liver. I still have to see a consultant. And it makes me ache and feel tired all the time. It makes life hard. I was not prepared for that and to be honest, I still haven’t really worked out how to be ok with it. Recently I stopped breastfeeding and it seems to have eased a lot since then, so maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sadly, I try not to be hopeful because I cannot stand the disappointment.
3. My body
Of course I knew pregnancy would change my body. It was wonderful and terrifying. Will my face get fat? Yes. Will I get a cute bump? Also yes. Pregnancy does wonderful things to your body. It is really magical. Then there’s things like toxic farts. Not so magical.
I look so different now even 2 years later. My boobs. I miss them. Breastfeeding for almost 2 years means they will never be the same again. I’m actually starting to be ok with it though. I just wish they were small like they used to be.
My belly has never been flat and I’ve always been self conscious of it. Now I find it quite hilarious. It is lumpy and bumpy and moves to its own rhythm.
I realised that I missed feeling sexy. I missed feeling like I looked good but all my clothes made me look like a trussed up pork belly ready for the oven. I’ve managed to get my head round this by changing the way I shop. I go to adult shops now (no not those adult shops you filthy buggers). No more topshop. I like M&S, fat face and Boden (when I can afford it). But I also started doing things I had let slip during the baby phase – nails, hair makeup. Making time for these again really helps me feel more like myself. I really need to address the eyebrow situation though. Soon …
4. My career
I was driven and successful. I was an achiever. I went for it and got it. I dreamed big and had some amazing experiences.
Now I go to work and keep my head down because I question whether I should actually be there. This has been my biggest stumbling block. It was such a big part of who I was. It has been my whole life. I’ve always loved to do the best I can and really push myself.
But I can’t be that person right now. It is not possible to be a Pinterest mum and high achiever at work all at the same time. I can’t be the best teacher and the best mum at the same time. I’ve had to settle for being good at both. But that unsettles me. So now when I go to work I feel anxious all the time. I haven’t been in the position before where I’m not on my A-game. I feel weak and wobbly. I question all my decisions. I expect to get bad feedback. I feel like a fraud. I feel like I am letting everyone down – children, colleagues and parents.
Honestly, I don’t know how to fix this. I am sure there is a fix because with all my other identity crises since Boo, there has always been a fix. I know I need to do some self talk and remind myself I am doing a good job even if I do work less hours. But all that it comes back to is it is so hard to be a working mum. I need to be kinder to myself: I work really hard and I do a good job. It’s OK not to strive for perfection all the time.
Massive props to all you mothers who are raising children while working. I only do 2 days and barely cope with that. Sometimes I wish I could be a housewife but we now have a society that frowns on that (not that I care about that at all) and makes it financially very difficult to have only one partner working. I guess I’ll just have to keep on keeping on and continue to wade through the waves of anxiety.