From my own experience I can wholeheartedly say that I and most, if not all women, change when they have a baby. For some those changes may be more subtle than for others. For me, they were dramatic and I’m so grateful for an understanding and patient husband. So many men are not prepared for how a woman changes when she goes from being ‘me’ to being ‘mummy’.
Aside from the obvious physical changes of bigger OR smaller boobs, stretched skin from the bump, stretch marks (tiger stripes, love lines whatever you want to call them) heightened or lowered sex drive, all of which are difficult enough to bare, there are also deep emotional changes. The one I want to focus on for this post is the feeling of no longer knowing who you are. A woman losing herself as such.
What men often don’t realise is once a mother always a mother. Women don’t switch off during the 9-5 working day to be Directors, Receptionists, Doctors, Cleaners, Solicitors or any other job… They just fit more into their minds. I never stop thinking about my children but over time I am learning to push those thoughts aside; to focus on work, or the job at hand, or maybe even my sex life! This however, in my opinion, is a learned skill which takes time.
I’m certain it’s not just me that feels I’m often pulled in a million directions! Although, this feeling is often self-inflicted nonetheless, it’s there. My children, my husband, my career, date night, wine with the girls, time for waxing etc. I’m sure I used to do all of these things but without the emotional baggage of always wondering if I had chosen to do the right thing that day.
With my first child I’m not sure when I became ‘me’ again or really if I ever did! There was the odd glimmer, on the odd occasion of the old me, but I often used to push my buggy along the street wondering when would I return. Where has Emma gone? Would I ever feel like ‘me’ again? The answers to those questions are: THAT Emma has gone and no I will never be the old me again. Why would I want her back? Why would anybody want her back? I have developed, moved into another chapter of my life and I’m now so much more than what I was. I’ve built onto my old foundations and I’m settling into my many new roles.
But that ‘bedding in’ period, so to speak, takes time and more than that really… It’s taken baby number 2, a second return to work and drawer full of new underwear to finally feel more like ‘me’ again and in some ways I’m still getting to know the new me. That’s more than 3 years of muddled searching for Emma!
I’m comfortable now as Mummy, wife, radio presenter, wine lover and constant weight loss struggler. I’ve done it and all women do eventually. I’ve muddled through the changes and now my family is stronger, closer and ready for anything. We know what we stand for, who we are and what we want. Many of those things have been decided as a couple, some as individuals, but always with patience and a mutual understanding that our lives are evolving and changing all the time.
So men, don’t EVER expect things to ‘be the way they were’… no matter how much you want it to be. You created another person and now they will, and if they don’t they should, factor into all your decision making. Don’t abandon your loved one because she has changed. You helped make those changes when you decided to have a baby. More fool you if you go elsewhere. After having a baby and when the time is right (feeling more like herself) a woman is stronger, sexier and more determined than ever. And believe me it’ll be your loss if you choose to break up your family.