Why having a baby didn’t change my life

nqene So I’ve heard everyone that already has kids say that having a baby completely changes your life. Well, I am a new mum with a four month old son, and I don’t think that’s completely accurate. I had no idea what to expect so I read tons of articles online, and most of them […]

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So I’ve heard everyone that already has kids say that having a baby completely changes your life. Well, I am a new mum with a four month old son, and I don’t think that’s completely accurate. I had no idea what to expect so I read tons of articles online, and most of them summed up parenthood more or less like this: ‘your life will change forever, you will feel a love like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, you won’t even know what life was like before having kids, etc.’. Because until this day I don’t quite feel this way, and I’ve been having a hard time finding more stories similar to my own experience, I decided to write down what it’s really been like for me. In the hopes that other who feel the same, don’t feel as awkward or as guilty as I have for not thinking that being a parent is the greatest thing that has ever happened to them.

Yay! My son turned four months old recently. Both me and my partner were looking forward to this moment, as we had joked all along that we should just be able to skip the first few months, because babies start to look cute at four months old. I don’t mean to say we didn’t love our baby from the moment he was born. But to be honest, we didn’t love having a baby. We were overwhelmed, sleep deprived, unsure what to do. We run our own business and getting back into it after our son was born was a lot harder than expected. Yes, we were also very naive. Add to that my shattered body and a hint of baby blues, and you can imagine life wasn’t all rainbows and pink clouds.

My sister has asked me a few times these past months if I liked having a baby. And when I answered with an honest ‘not really’, there was an awkward silence on the other end of the line. Because what do you say to that? I quickly stopped being honest about it, because it is not something people want to hear. And quite frankly, I didn’t really want to hear it myself either. Because what do you do? This little helpless human being is completely dependent on you. You can’t possibly admit that you don’t like what you wished for, right? Well, actually, yes you can! Just because I wasn’t enjoying having to take care of a baby, doesn’t mean I didn’t do it with utmost care and responsibility. I discovered I am way more patient than I thought I was, and this baby received the best care we could possibly give him.

So fast forward four months and we got used to each other a lot more. Our son is adorable, I catch myself smiling so much when he gives me that toothless smile and I know that I love my son. But this happened gradually. And unlike the tons of articles on newborns that I read, I didn’t fall in love with my baby straight away. It was a process. And no, I didn’t only have this baby on my mind. I sure wasn’t on a pink cloud, I was more dreaming of a good night’s sleep instead.

I was looking forward to giving birth. I had, once again, read a lot online and offline and I was expecting to feel something I had never felt before, when the baby would be born. A magical veil falling out of the sky, draping me with an overwhelming sense of love, a feeling I’d never experienced before. This baby would melt my heart in ways I did not know possible. So you might imagine my disappointment when the baby came out, and I looked at him, waiting for that magical moment to appear. Only to look down at him, thinking ‘meh’. I am not kidding. I was exhausted, this baby was finally out, resembling a turtle, and why was I still feeling so uncomfortable? I was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t really sit comfortably or rest properly after it was done. I felt a lot better when the placenta came out half an hour later. My midwife wanted me to hold the baby and I wanted to, kind of, but I also wasn’t sure what to do. I kept waiting for this surge of love, but it didn’t come.

In fact, a few days into it, after not sleeping, after problems with initial breastfeeding and after my body felt as if it had been in a car crash, the baby blues came. I cried over everything and I was honestly wondering what I was going to do now? This was my choice, I wanted a baby and he came. Now what? I don’t love him, so what to do now?

Thankfully this phase only lasted for a week or two, and as my body recovered, so did my mind.

We could not have asked for a more easy-going, happier, cuter baby. We are really lucky. Also, we work from home and have flexible work schedules, which means we can take our time in the mornings, we don’t have to rush to get him to daycare for instance, and we have plenty of opportunity during the day to be with him.

But all of this doesn’t mean we’ve completely changed. I don’t all of a sudden understand what life’s all about, or what love’s all about. I am also very much aware of our life before our son was born. How could I forget about that? Admitting this makes me feel weird. It makes me feel like a failure. It makes me feel I am unworthy of being a parent. Because if I don’t experience or feel these things, like everyone else seems to feel and experience them, then I must be an ungrateful, heartless person, right?

Why am I only ever reading about the wonders of parenthood? People assume all the time that I ‘must be enjoying every single moment’. My friends ask me ‘what’s it like to be a mum’ and when I say ‘I feel the same as always’ they don’t quite expect that. When someone texts me saying having kids is the best thing that’s ever happened to them, I don’t know how to respond. Because ‘no’ is not an option. It’s not like I want to reverse what happened, not at all! I love my baby boy, and he is getting cuter by the minute. But by becoming a mum I haven’t lost myself. I am grateful for this new dimension to our lives and I am feeling responsible to be the best parent for this little human, but I am still me.

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