Keeping your identity in motherhood

posted 10 months ago in Babies
Post # 2
Member
7452 posts
Busy Beekeeper

Has your friend said that she’s unhappy? We change and that doesn’t mean she has lost herself if she’s happy with her new stage of life. Also infant stage is temporary so her current state isn’t forever.  Does she really “freak out” or does she just not let the baby cry without being attended to? If it’s the former she probably needs some help for anxiety/stress but I also never let my infant cry and I wasn’t always a stressball either. 

Post # 3
Member
6443 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

 Your friend is 100% overdoing things and it’s not healthy. I will grant you that since I had my baby I have gone out less frequently. When friends or family call the baby is what I talk about because that’s what’s going on in life.

However all you have to do is make the effort to keep up the things that you want to do. If I’m stir crazy in the house, I insist we’re going to go have an adventure in the mountains and then we do. Yes he tags alone, but it doesn’t mean I can’t go hiking anymore and it doesn’t mean I can’t share that trip with friends later when we talk. The only reason we don’t go out without baby Is because we don’t have family close by that we trust (yet). Give them a couple more months and I am definitely ditching him with a brother-in-law at least for a night.

With regard to not using the bathroom, not eating, not showering – I see women say this all the time and I think they are out of their ever loving mind. The baby naps, so there’s no reason not to get those things done. When it’s older, it’ll stand outside the bathroom door and cry, but it’s not being murdered and it will get over it. I have just started shutting my kid out so I can use the bathroom in peace and yes he whines about it but he will freaking live and I am much happier that way. I have never once skip the shower because of the baby – that’s what my husband is for.

As to cleaning, if you were a clean person before, you will still take care of your house. If you’re lax like I am, your house will be a disaster and that’s your own dumb fault. Hire a hOuse cleaner 🙂

in short, just because your friend called a halt to her life doesn’t mean you have to as well!!

Post # 4
Member
7452 posts
Busy Beekeeper

skunktastic :  With regard to not using the bathroom, not eating, not showering – I see women say this all the time and I think they are out of their ever loving mind. The baby naps, so there’s no reason not to get those things done.

You are lucky if your kid naps consistently. Mine rarely would, and often times she only would sleep in my arms so I was trapped.  Now that she’s older it isn’t a problem (and she finally naps on her own! huzzah!) but in the infant stage – it just wasn’t happening. 

Post # 5
Member
3093 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

Are you sure that you want kids? Or are you a fence-sitter feeling pressure to make a decision based on the bio-clock and what youre friends are doing?

If you’re sure that you want kids, then take a deep breath and remind yourself that YOU are in control over how much of your identity you are willing to wrap up in motherhood. To an ectent, you won’t have a choice about how needy your baby might be (maybe you’ll be lucky and it’ll be an easy baby, but maybe you’ll end up with a colicky baby – its’ a crapshoot), but you CAN control how you handle parenthood. Your BFF sounds like she has gone completely overboard and there is absolutely no reason you have to follow in her footsteps.

If you’re on the fence about having kids but feeling pressure to decide NOW, I’d make a list of the reasons you want kids and the reasons you don’t. And do the following thought ecercise regularly over the next several months: pick a moment during your day and think about how different that moment would be with a baby, with a toddler, with a kid, with a teenager, etc. Think about how you *feel* when you’re visualising it. Does the thought of having a kid as part of that moment make you happy or stressed? Do this same thought exercise before bed and think back through your entire day. How would it be different? Do those differences make you happy?

Post # 6
Member
1722 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

I’ve got a 10 and 9 year old. All new mothers get obsessed with their pregnancy and newborn to some extent or another. And you totally lose yourself for a while. But as your kids get older and more capable, you find yourself more, go out more, resume hobbies and live. 

You will 100% become one of those obnoxious people who share about your kids weight and bathroom habits… and you’ll probably feel differently about your friend after you go through it yourself.

But, it doesn’t last for forever and will probably not be to the same extent as your friend. 

May the end of the day, you want a kid or you don’t. Don’t do it because you think it will be fun and easy and cute. Cause it’s rarely those things. Do it because you want to regardless of the cost. 

Post # 7
Member
183 posts
Blushing bee

I don’t know… I don’t have kids but a fair amount of my family and friends do and that sounds pretty typical (based on what I heard from them) during the infant stage. They claimed to have no life, no time for themselves, never saw friends, but it didn’t take their identity away. As PP said, they are at a totally different stage of life. Once their infant was a toddler things began to get normal again – going back to work, getting their MBA, etc. I mean, your friend’s baby is only 7 months and from what I’ve seen/heard from friends and family, what your friend is doing is pretty typical for the first year.

Post # 8
Member
9672 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

I just had a baby 4 months ago and I can tell you my life/priorities have TOTALLY changed and I’m sure some of my friends could write a post just like this about me (sans dirty house/showerinh/bathroom and shitty non helping husband).

Pre-baby I’ve always been very non traditional. I work, I travel, I spent my off time in mosh pits and at comic conventions. There had been comments made over the years that it was good I didn’t have children because motherhood wouldn’t suit me. That I wasn’t soft enough, nurturing enough. That I was too wild, too selfish. Most people were shocked when I became pregnant because they assumed I didn’t *want* children (despite never having actually talked to me on the subject). And then came my daughter after 10 months of trying desperately to become pregnant (something of course no one knew about or suspected).

I work full time so really all I want when I get off work is to spend time with my baby. I have no desire to travel cross country to follow musicians as I did pre-baby. Before baby going to shows was our number one hobby, it wasn’t unusual for us to fly/drive out to a different state Friday and be back Sunday evening just to catch a show. Now that I have a baby that’s literally the last thing I want to do. Which I’m has adjustment to friends who are mostly CFBC or years away from having kids. I’ve thrown myself into motherhood and taken to it naturally, I LOVE being a mother. I love my daughter. I would rather be with her than anywhere else in the world! 

It’s hard to talk about with anyone in my life without the judgment that I’m doing something wrong for not making time for my previous hobbies or that I’m some kind of sell out because I’ve “changed” which can be even more isolating. I’ve found myself forcing myself to go out and partake in the activities I used to just out of fear that if I don’t I will start losing relationships that I value. It’s no walk in the park. Before I was judged because I didn’t seem like I would make a good mother, now I’m judged because I am too wrapped up in being a mother. There isnt a way to win!

Its isolating because the people in my life can’t understand what I’m feeling. Even my Husband doesn’t get it. I imagine that’s a bit what is happening between you and your friend. It’s no fault of your own, but until you’re there and feeling it you can’t understand what it’s like for the person experiencing it. Your motherhood experience can be whatever you want to be, it doesn’t have to be like my experience or your friends. But motherhood is funny, you may look at your friend and think “Oh god! I hope that doesn’t happen to me!!” right now and then when the time comes you may find you have a totally different perspective. 

Post # 9
Member
808 posts
Busy bee

skunktastic :  Completely agree with all of this, she’s waaay overdoing things…if she was happy with doing things the way she does, that’s great for her…but it sounds like it’s taking a toll and it’s becoming unhealthy. 

Yes, you will absolutely be making sacrifices…it’s understated on many parenting blogs, but your health (notably your mental health) is majorly impactful on the health of your child, which is why making time to take care of yourself is essential even if it means letting your baby whine for awhile…babies crying is only “detrimental” when it’s chronic. A depressed, stressed, sleep deprived parent could be even more detrimental than a little crying could be. The whole “crying is bad for babies” came from studies of neglected infants left to cry in orphanages with minimal human contact on a day to day basis…I do think it’s important to be aware of, but that’s not very applicable to most loving homes. I obviously wouldn’t leave a newborn to cry for an hour, but if you need 15 minutes to shower, they’ll be okay. You’ll find ways to adapt and compromise so that you’ll both benefit. My LO was incredibly clingy…she detested being put down and would cry through every diaper change since she wasn’t being held. I was similar to your friend…missing showers, barely eating, not cleaning, having 0 time for myself since LO wouldn’t sleep anywhere other than my arms. I was losing my sanity and I had to figure out a way to adapt…so I started with setting LO in her bouncy seat in the bathroom while I showered, so I could keep talking to her and peek out to show her I was still there. She’d cry, but nothing hysterical, and she’d cry less each time once it became a routine…babies (even newborns) are way more resiliant and smart than we give them credit for. We worked up to other things, and eventually sleeping in her own room and taking naps alone. By that point (about 4-5 mos) I felt like myself again. 

The first 3 months was especially rough on my sanity, I’ll be honest. It’s really difficult to get into a groove, but once you do, things get easier and easier…especially as baby gets older. The clingy infant days are numbered; you’ll blink and you’ll already be celebrating their 1st birthday wondering where the time went. It’s best to have realistic expectations so you won’t get blindsided if you have a really difficult baby…so expect to “lose yourself”, but only temporarily. A few months of going 100 miles a minute is a drop in the bucket, and completely worth it if you really want kids. You could be lucky like one of my girlfriends whose newborn is a perfect sleeper…she’s always glowing, well rested, and fed (the nerve! lol) 

It’s also super helpful to have family nearby who can babysit, but even if you don’t you can still manage some fun adventures with a baby. We managed 2 really enjoyable vacations when our LO was 5 mos and then 7 mos. Even being EBF, she’s done exceptionally well being watched by her grandparents for hours on end without fussing, so Darling Husband and I have been able to have some proper “childfree dates” the past few months. Obviously if we wanted our lives “back”, like the way it was before, we wouldn’t have had kids…but we’re at a place now where we can enjoy time to ourselves while being parents the rest of the time, which is just what we wanted 🙂 

Post # 10
Member
886 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

That has not been my experience at all. I went to an OAR concert when my son was 4 days old. My husband and I go out on dates without my son about once a week. (He is 1.5 years old) We traveled to the Dominican Republic and Italy this year, all without the baby.

I always said that I would not let having children define my life, and for the most part, I would say that is true. We certainly go out less frequently than we did before having kids, however, our life has not stopped completely. We still travel, go to concerts, go to bars, go to the movies, go out to eat, etc. 

We are blessed to have a ton of help from friends and family. We have only paid for a babysitter a handful of times. My mother-in-law calls and asks to watch our son. If she doesn’t see him at least once a week, she will stop by just to spend time with him. This has been incredibly helpful. 

I also have what many people would describe as an easy baby. He is happy most of the time, sleeps well, eats well and is generally a joy to be around. I would like to say this is because my husband and I are relaxed and easy going, but I think that is just his temperament. 

Finally, I personally found breastfeeding to be soul-crushing. Having a tiny human literally dependent on my body for life made me miserable. Allowing myself to ‘quit’ breastfeeding allowed me much more freedom to live my life as I used to. We could leave my son at his grandmother’s house from a young age. I could leave my son with my husband to go have ‘me-time’ and get my nails done.

I believe that bottle feeding is a large reason why I found motherhood to be an easier transition. I did not shoulder all of the responsibility of motherhood myself – I spread it out to my husband, my in-laws, my parents, my cousins and my friends. 

 

Post # 11
Member
1198 posts
Bumble bee

It depends what kind of baby you have and it depends on how you react to the stress and big life changes as a person – and you aren’t going to know any of that until you have a baby, because if true what they say, that nothing can prepare you. 

You might have a dream baby that never cries and sleeps through the night, one who screams with colic all day and all night, one that never naps and only will sleep for 2hr bursts all night, one that has severe reflux, one that has a disability, one that’s very adaptable or one that’s not – your little person can be anything. 

I had twins – yeah, big surprise – so my imagined motherhood has been NOTHING like I thought it would. I work full time and love my job, so I get a lot of my identity through that, but the other areas of my life are tough – I probably haven’t had more than 4hrs unbroken sleep since I was 6 weeks pregnant, I can’t fit in housework til they go to bed because the time they nap together is very short, it’s incredibly hard to get out the house for anything on time and damn near impossible if I’m on my own. I can pee and make a cup of tea without them but I can’t shower. And my husband and I permanently exhausted because we each have at least one baby ALL the time. 

What can I say though? It’s not forever. 

Post # 12
Member
9138 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

My son’s around that age and before I went back to work a few weeks ago, he was all-consuming. And I was pretty miserable about it. But then I went back to work and was able to start feeling more like myself and he got a bit older and much easier to take places, and it’s been great ever since.

I wouldn’t extrapolate how life is with a baby (especially a more difficult one) and assume that’s how it’ll be forever. 

Post # 13
Member
1764 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

Most of your concerns here revolve around parenting choices that are yours to do differently if you prefer.  I used to take my baby into the bathroom with me, and put her on a blanket on the floor with a toy while I showered.  After she started moving around (6-7 months for us), I would leave her in her crib with a video monitor.  Others do things differently.

I do want to point out one thing that you may not be considering.  Breastfeeding moms have a real physical reaction to babies crying.  Definitely their own baby, and sometimes even other peoples’ babies.  If you listen to a baby cry long enough, you will get a let-down, which means your boobs will start to ache and milk may start squirting out of them.  If you don’t nurse or pump, you will get the boob version of “blue balls.”  Women like to avoid this by making sure their baby doesn’t cry.  Plus, it is hard to concentate on other things when your baby is crying, because you are sort of programmed to react to the baby.  I breastfed/pumped for 14 months, and generally did not let my daughter cry during that time.  Now that she is 2, I am much more apt to ignore her crying if she is throwing a tantrum etc, but I still prefer to find a solution to the problem rather than let her cry/listen to crying.  Also, a lot of kids will puke if you let them cry for too long, which is just unpleasant for all involved.  

Post # 14
Member
3774 posts
Honey bee

Everyone always says to put your kids first. It sounds good in theory. But in practice you don’t want to lose the “you” that you were before children. Your life is not all about children. You have to put the marriage first always. In the original post the husband is putting the kids first, but it’s usually the woman. It’s a classic mistake and one that often leads to divorce.

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