I never thought I’d be saying this sentence, but here goes
Happy first birthday baby boy!
How, did we get here? How did we make it to an entire year?
Back in my darkest moments in the depths of January, when I was drowning in a sea of post-natal depression, anxiety, fear, panic and feeling completely overwhelmed by motherhood, I could see no way out. There was literally no possibility of light at the end of the tunnel, in my very mixed up mind. I couldn’t see past tomorrow, let alone a year on.
And yet here we are. Somehow we made both made it through, what was the toughest time of my entire life.
Today, my little boy is a happy, healthy, 1 year old.
I feel such love for him now that some days I literally feel as if I want to eat him up. I can’t stop kissing him, rubbing the back of his head, carrying him around like the Maharajah, playing airplane, trying and sometimes failing miserably to make him laugh and generally staring into his big blue eyes and feeling like my heart is about to burst with pure love.
I’m not saying every day is picnic, because it’s not. Most of the time I haven’t a clue what I am doing. I’m ‘mammy-ing’ by the seat of my pants. And let’s face it sometimes motherhood can bring you to your knees. There are days when he pushes me to my limits regularly leaves me questioning my very sanity. But here’s one of the most crucial things I’ve learned in this past year. When you feel more like yourself, when you’re not battling the rawest, cruellest, most unnatural sort of emotions imaginable, you can cope with almost anything motherhood throws at you.
He’s such a gorgeous little boy. Full of mischief and smiles, drama and cuddles, roars and laughs. I find myself just looking at him amazed that something so beautiful could ever come from me.
Me… the self-centred, writer who hadn’t the first clue about what it was like to really put someone else ahead of myself for any period of time.
Me… the complete novice who knew more about picking up a puppy than a human baby.
Me… the person who couldn’t keep a basil plant alive for more than a few days, has somehow managed to get my baby boy to his first birthday.
This past year has taught me many things. Ultimately I’m left feeling conflicted about myself. On the one hand I feel very undeserving of this huge honour of motherhood. I'm also still hugely disappointed and ashamed that I imploded so badly at the start. Even though I am of the firm belief that there is absolutely no stigma to be attached to post-natal depression or taking time to bond with your baby, I just can’t seem to apply the same logic to myself. And I’m left feeling ashamed and pretty unworthy to be called mum.
But bizarrely, existing beside my shame is a bubbling sense of pride. It feels very odd to say that out loud. I’m not a naturally confident sort of person and I wouldn’t laud myself easily. But in this instance, I am a bit proud. I’m proud that I managed to come back from the brink of the abyss. That I finally bonded with my son. That I fought the fear, the anxiety and that somewhere in that dark haze of hell, I found myself again. It is a different me. But it’s ‘a me’, I’ve started to get to know this past year.
I've grown as a person. I am stronger. I've got (some!) more patience. I'm more forgiving. I'm (sometimes!) kinder. I swear more. I laugh more. I still cry now and then. I see the world in a new light. I try to put my son first every day. My multi-tasking skills have skyrocketed. My tolerance for grossness knows no bounds. I still have not got a clue what I am doing, but I've also lost a lot of my crippling inhibitions and self-conscious, self-indulgences that held me back.
Today I’m not just Niamh, I’m also Mammy.
That’s not to say I’ve got his whole motherhood thing cracked. On the contrary, I’m still very much a novice in the mammy stakes. I’m still nervous about the future, but I’m learning as I go and trying to keep my anxiety in check.
My goal when I started this blog was to help myself as a form of catharsis and help other new mums who were feeling the same way. I think I’ve achieved my initial goals, but I want to keep going and as I continue on my journey, I hope that you’ll stay with me, with me as I navigate the uncharted waters of mammy life with love, honesty, grace and humour.