A year ago I wrote a guest blog for Express North about becoming a mother for the first time, and being filled with fear at this prospect.
Anyone who has become a mother can probably relate in some way to the article I wrote, and reading it back this week I felt compelled to write an update to show anyone who is in the dark place I was 12 months ago, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If you told me that everything was going to be alright in March 2017 I may have given you a small laugh and faked a smile. But, fast forward to now, it was alright. And actually, it’s better than alright.
Yes, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs over the past year, but now I look at my daughter Nola and burst with pride that I made her. I created that wonderful, cheeky girl, who loves to shout hi and wave at strangers, who loves the dog to death, and who, dare I say it, loves me back.
It took me four months of counselling to get my postnatal depression under control, and I’m not ashamed about it. It’s not something I could control. It’s horrible, and anyone going through it now, please know that you are not alone, and you are completely normal. But also know this. It does get better.
When I look at Nola now I beam. She is the light of my life. When she wakes up in the morning (even after a restless night of teething – teeth are clearly the devil’s work) and I can hear her chatting away to herself in her cot, I wake up with a smile on my face. When she took her first steps and decided to run the length of the living room before diving head first into the sofa, I was in hysterics along with her.
Every single time she laughs, I think I could not love this tiny human any more than I do. I never knew love like this was physically possible.
Since then we have had so many adventures together I don’t dread being left alone in charge of a tiny human. I’ve taken her to Poland to see her Uncle Sam, I took her on a road trip round Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo, we’ve gone to the hell that is soft play, farms, parks… You name it, we’ve done it. That is the light at the end of the tunnel. Enjoying your child and enjoying the pleasure they bring you doing things together.
At the start of last year I felt so awful that if someone came to visit me and Nola, I’d actively encourage them to hold her or feed her, or change her so that I wouldn’t have to do it. Not because I was lazy, but because I couldn’t bear to do anything with her if I absolutely didn’t have to.
It was a terrifying place to be, and I feel proud of myself that I’ve come out of the other side, and now I can’t imagine a life without her. Of course, there’s still difficult times, and I’m sure that will never change, but now when someone says “It was an awful labour, but she’s worth it isn’t she?”, I don’t shrug and think ‘was it?’ I think, yes, yes it was all worth it.
I’ll not be having another child. I made that decision before Nola was even conceived, but now I truly appreciate when she does something new. Unlike a lot of mothers I’m not upset that she’s not crawling any more, I’m delighted she’s walking. I’m not upset when she grows out of her tiny clothes and goes into the next size, because when she was little it was a hard time, and the bigger she gets the more we understand each other.
In 2017 someone said to me that they had no doubt Nola and I would be the best of friends. While I don’t want to be her best friend, I now get what they mean. I hope we’re as thick as thieves for as long as she lets me be. And for anyone struggling out there, know that you are not alone. I know how you feel, and so do so, so many other women. Don’t think you’re abnormal because you aren’t in the newborn bubble. It takes time to grow to love someone, so it will come. Don’t suffer in silence, get some help and I promise you there is light at the end of the tunnel and it IS all worth it.