Every woman is excited about becoming a mother. Right? But for me, it wasn’t that straightforward.
In fact, the idea of having a baby was terrifying. But in a weird way. I mean, I always knew I wanted to have kids, we had such a fun and adventurous childhood (albeit with plenty of chaos, mess and family arguments) that I couldn’t imagine not having them. But the practical reality of ‘when’, and ‘where’ and ‘how’ (although, I knew the how lol) and most importantly ‘how will I cope?’ weighed on my mind heavily. Having met Ben 12 years ago it’s not like I had any confusion about who I wanted to have children with, something that is a HUGE privilege I know. But although my pregnancy was planned, once I read that positive pregnancy test I spent the whole first trimester terrified about what it would be like (and, with my head in a toilet). The fears just wouldn’t let up! I honestly felt like my life was over.
Something that helped me with my mindset was this article by my fave Ask Polly. I was three months pregnant when it was published and Ben came home to me sobbing on the sofa reading this article. Up to that point I hadn’t been able to describe how I felt. Anyway, 8 months since birth, I wanted to share a few thoughts about the fears that I had, and which ones came true.
When you’re trying to look chilled but inside you’re losing it!
I would lose my career.
‘You can have it all, but you can’t blah blah blah blah’ or whatever. Honestly, my number one fear about having a baby was sacrificing my business to do so. I’ve worked hard in the last 8 years to build a business, and I worried having a baby would set me back completely. Did it happen? Not at all! I mean, things changed and working at a reduced capacity for a few months definitely hurt my bottom line (being your own boss means zero maternity leave) but having a baby didn’t ruin my business. I mean, I think it makes life messy, gives you plenty of distractions, and you honestly NEVER feel like your list gets any shorter, but I think you just learn to work around these things. Perhaps you get slightly better at prioritising? Or you stop trying to do everything.
That said, having enough support has been essential to keeping my business going during this time – we’re incredibly lucky to have a good support network, we both have flexible schedules and we also have nannying and family to help with daycare. I know I wouldn’t have been able to run a business at this capacity if I hadn’t had the thatsupport I do, and I have a huge respect for parents who juggle it all this way.
Motherhood wasn’t ‘for’ me.
Hello! My name is Geneva and I’m not maternal. Honestly, that was pretty much how I saw myself up until a few years ago. I never really wanted to hold other people’s babies, and I didn’t find it cute when a child was seated next to us in a restaurant. But surprise, surprise, it’s different with your own kids! I cannot begin to explain how much love and joy Frankie brings to our lives, it’s such an amazing thing to wake up to her little face every day… Even though it’s hard and a juggle a lot of the time. So yes, my fear of motherhood being something you’re either made for or not was unfounded. In fact, it changes you completely and I can’t help wonder why I didn’t do it sooner! Now I honestly couldn’t imagine a life without her.
I would ruin my body.
False (and maybe a tiny bit true?).
Yeah, this one is kind of narcissistic I know, but I think it’s only natural to tie up self confidence in our bodies and how we look. It’s something that’s basically drilled into us! And just watching your tummy grow and (for me) your ankles quadruple in size is a (often hilarious) shock. In a purely practical sense, having a baby is raw and real and it does take a long time recover. At times it feels like you’ll never be the same. But you know what? For me the process helped to redefine what my body is capable of, and see it in a different way. So whilst yes your body changes, some of which may last forever, it’s not ruined and what’s even better is that you have a whole new appreciation for what your body does. Which has been a huge, amazing revelation for me. And even though I would be lying if I said that I no longer care about the number on the scale or a soft tummy, it’s nice to finally ‘see’ my body for the incredible, almost magical task that’s performed, rather than just focusing on what it looks like on the outside. Sounds cliché but it’s true!
I wouldn’t be able to talk about anything but babies.
Don’t get me wrong, it feels good to get together with friends who have babies and talk for hours about the minute details of sleep schedules, teething, travel tips – anything and everything. But you know what? After I had Frankie I was pleased to realise that I craved normal human conversation that DIDN’T revolve around babies too. Even after only a few weeks of having Frankie it was good to get together with my single friends and chat about their dating lives (this, in particular, gives me life), or discuss podcasts and politics with Ben. Babies are fun but let’s be real, it can all get a bit boring sometimes. Although, you might have to ask my friends if I’ve morphed into a one subject mum, but I do make an effort to self regulate… At the start I did sometimes have to remind myself of what different people would find interesting, which can be hard in the first few months when life is dictated by this screaming little poo machine. But it was awesome to realise if you don’t want you talk about babies all the time, you don’t have to. And if you do want to talk about babies all day, that’s fine too!
I would become irrelevant.
‘Don’t worry, as a mother you will often feel a bit irrelevant’ a friend told me while I was pregnant. Which was terrifying! It’s funny how much tiny things like that can stick in your brain. Admittedly in the first few months post baby there’s an overwhelming sense of being isolated from the world, being outside of the orbit of normal people. Having your nipple in a baby’s mouth 24/7 would do that to anyone! But as Frankie grew I noticed that this feeling went away, and instead was replaced with a better idea about what I wanted to do and be involved in. In some ways I just feel a bit more happy to not follow every trend and be up with everything that I would have felt pressure to before. Yes, I still fall into the comparison trap and get FOMO, but a lot less than before (although self regulating social media helps!). Andddd having a baby gives you the perfect excuse for getting out of things you don’t want to do, which is amazing! Lol.
I would get mum brain.
True (so so true)
I’m sorry but mummy/mommy brain is a thing. The mental load of having a baby, feeding, juggling a business and generally trying to get it all done has been a HUGE adjustment. And sometimes I honestly feel like my brain is broken trying to deal with all the bits and pieces that go into everyday. But I think this is completely natural and normal for a new mum (every mother I have spoken to agrees). But honestly? It’s fine! (IT’S FINE IT’S FINE she says while her head explodes). What I mean is that some days are better than others, and sleep when you can get it helps. But if I could go back and tell pre-baby Geneva one thing it would be to take advantage of that no kids clear headed-ness!
My life was over.
Ok so thinking about this now it feels ridiculous, but for the first few months of being pregnant all I could think about was that my life was over. O.V.E.R. I kept seeing people doing things – like travelling and going out etc – and think to myself, ‘oh I’m going to be a mum and won’t be able to do that anymore’. Looking back, life hasn’t changed that much. Which is so funny! Yes, it’s more jam packed, more regimented, a little bit more mundane, and you lose the ability to just do whatever you want when you want, but nothing about this new life feels over. In fact, there’s just so much joy that it cancels the rest out. Honestly, you just find yourself a half decent baby carrier, a huge box of water wipes and away you go!
What were your fears about motherhood? Did you have any?