It all started with a coffee.
If you follow me on social media you’ll know I recently went out for brunch for the first time since Reece was born, 11 months ago!
It might not seem like a big deal, but to me it was almost life changing. It was so damn easy, and it made me think, what kind of mother would I have been, had things been different? And am I the kind of mother I want to be?
For some new mothers, they slip into motherhood effortlessly, Toting their tiny babies around in clean prams, with perfect hair and pre-pregnancy jeans, sipping chai latte’s and chatting about normal things with friends that are equally as perfect, while strangers stopped to “ooh aah” at the perfect babies. (do I sound bitter? lol)
Well, It wasn’t that way for me! When I was pregnant with Ella I had all these ideas of course, what she would be like, and what kind of mother I would be. I wouldn’t change who I was, I would still be me but with a baby, doing the same things I used to do, being the same person I was. Having coffee dates and living my life.
Cafe’s and Latte’s got replaced with hospital canteens and cheap coffee, lunch dates turned into appoinment after appointment, oohing and aahing over my baby replaced by “whats wrong with her” and a thousand questions I couldn’t answer. And pre-pregnancy jeans changed to sweats, stained because I hadn’t done the washing in 2 weeks (although this had nothing to do with Ella’s diagnosis, this was just me – not coping lol)
And its not just about ‘the diagnosis’ – Just being a mum has changed me, because of course it has. Having a baby is a life altering event!
I think EVERYONE changes when they have a baby, because you’re supposed to. You have a tiny human that is supposed come before yourself and that changes you. Yes, even the perfect mums that I envy. They had jobs, they had different lives before they had babies, all mums did! and some people just adapt to that change better than others. I was not one of those people.
All of these thoughts that were brought on by a simple brunch has made me wonder what kind of parent would I have been, had things been different the first time around?
I knew Reece would be different, everyone told me just how different it would be, and yet it has taken me almost a whole frigging year to realise just how different it is, and how much Ella’s disability has changed the type of parent I am. It’s not just Reece being different, or Ella being different, it’s me.
I stress, about everything. Is this normal, is that OK, what does this mean???
I literally sent a video to 4 seperate friends (one of which is a nurse) because I worried that a sound Reece kept making wasn’t right 😂 as the replies came back, every one of them the same “he’s just finding his voice” (I could almost hear the eye roll and the “you idiot” at the end haha) well duh!
When I went out for brunch I nearly wasn’t going to go I was so nervous, taking a baby out to brunch had never been a positive experience for me before. What if he cries, what if he spews, what if he’s cranky, what if…. he was bloody fine!!
He sat up in his highchair chewing on some vegimite toast, he didn’t even cry when I went up to pay! We went into the chemist afterwards, and then to target. And the big eye opener, no one asked questions, no one stared, no one even noticed us, and it was fantastic!
When I was pregnant with Reece I wanted to try Baby Led Weaning (no purees, just finger food at 6 months) but when it came down to it I was terrified of him choking. Even giving him purees scared me! I kept flashing back to all the times Ella had choked -not gagged- CHOKED. Seeing her eyes roll into the back of her head, her lips change colour and her arms go limp. Seeing her lose consciousness. Subsequently Going and doing my first aid course because it could be the difference between life and death for her. It’s terrifying!
For Reece’s first finger food, I had to leave the room and let Joel give it to him, my anxiety was through the roof that he would choke. and again HE WAS FINE!
I could probably rattle off 20 more examples of how, instead of the laid back, relaxed parent I always thought I would be, I have just been an anxiety ridden mess for 12 months (or since Ella was diagnosed, 7 years ago) but I’ll stop there lol. I’m a ‘helicopter mum’ and I know it’s because with Ella, I have to be. My experience with her changed everything and I was too busy trying to adapt to notice.
I wonder If things were the other way around, If I had Reece first and Ella later, I wonder if I would have been better prepared? More relaxed? I wonder if things would have been easier or harder? I Wonder what kind of mother I would have been had Ella been ‘typical’? Who would I have been?
I’ve heard that getting a life-changing diagnosis for a loved one can give you PTSD, and while I don’t know about that, I do know that it changes who you are, right down the the very core. I don’t think I’ve lost a part of myself, but I’ve definitely gained some big personality traits I didn’t have before, some good, some bad – anxiety, guilt, maturity. And I think they’re all here to stay.
After all these realisations, I am definitely going to try and relax a bit more, and get out a bit more. But the truth is, I think I’m stuck being the mother that I am, and thats ok too.