I’m not sure when I started referring to myself in the third person, but these days it’s pretty much constant. You see, I spend the bulk of my days alone with my 6.5 month old baby boy, as I try to juggle working from home while he naps, with all the usual daily tasks motherhood brings. As you can imagine, adult conversations is somewhat lacking for me, so I find myself brandishing clichéd expressions like; ‘oh silly mammy put your nappy on backwards!’ ‘Where has mammy put your soother? Oh here it is.’ And so on and so forth. And while I do have an ulterior motive in that I want my son to say mammy soon, I also feel there’s something more to it… could it be an unconscious act that underpins my lost sense of self? And then during one of these pretty one-sided conversations, it hit me-
I don’t know who I am anymore since becoming a mum.
I cannot deny what a wonderful gift motherhood is. I am constantly amazed at how my body helped to create, grow and birth another living being. It is remarkable, fascinating and humbling. But in this amazing process, I really do feel like I lost myself along the way.
I’ve blogged before about how I had a very rough couple of months after my baby boy was born. I was completely overwhelmed, I didn’t feel like me at all and sank into the darkest of places. While I was never officially diagnosed with post-natal depression, I feel what I was going though was some form of it. Of course when I got pregnant, I know I had nine months to prepare for what was going to happen, yet somehow, when the reality of this huge responsibility hit me, I was completely unprepared. It was as if, the second my baby was thrust onto my chest, screaming and covered in goo, my old life was gone. In the days that followed I completely freaked out about all the things I could no longer do. All I could see were negative changes to my life and the overwhelming, terrifying responsibility of caring for a tiny, precious new life that sat squarely on my shoulders.
I understand this might sound all a bit dramatic to lots of you, but what I’ve come to realise is that part of the reason for my feelings of being overwhelmed, was that I was in fact grieving for my old self. It’s as if I left Niamh behind during the birth and this new ‘me’ sprung up in her place. It was as if everything converged and through this prism of fear and panic, I saw motherhood as some kind of prison of my own making. Ultimately, I was left feeling like I was unable to cope. Thankfully, there was light at the end of the tunnel for me and with hindsight I know understand that this much needed light started to shine through when I began to accept this huge change in my life.
Looking back now, I shudder when I think about how horrendous those two months were. It nearly broke me and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, yet it’s something I still think about often. I think about it first as a reminder, so that I’ll never allow myself to go back there and secondly to remind myself that this new Niamh is stronger than I know. When you’ve managed to overcome something like that, you get to a point of understanding and perspective; for me, it’s that I’m not myself any more. I’m not pre-baby Niamh and I still don’t really feel like a proper mum either… In truth, I’m not sure who I am, it’s hard but I’m trying to find out more about myself with each passing day with acceptance and love and a wish that one day I can be comfortable enough to be both Niamh and mammy.