When pregnant with your first baby, you daydream about the time you will have to really connect with your little one and create lasting memories. There is also the fun potential of having the longest time off work you’ve ever had, if you are a working mother like myself. You can feel the maternity bubble taking over you as you approach your due date and at this point it’s exciting . What you don’t realise is that your focus to connect with your baby may subconsciously cause you to disconnect with society and yourself, through no fault of your own.
I was never diagnosed with postnatal depression and truly believe I never suffered from it, and for that I am forever grateful. However I did find myself (especially when Isla was in newborn stage) becoming slowly more disconnected from ‘the real world’. I took my maternity leave 2 weeks prior to my due date, and Isla arrived 2 weeks after her due date. This month passed in a carefree blur without much thought and I had became fixated on nesting and preparing for our new arrival. Little did I know I had not watched the news, been shopping, straightened my hair or read a book in this time. Flash forward a month into newborn life, and the outside world had become almost a work of sci-fi fiction. The thought of going out for lunch or shopping terrified me in terms of worrying about Isla, but mainly for myself.
I was completely unable to attend family events and converse with people about anything which wasn’t baby related, and I felt people were becoming frustrated with me. I began to mourn the person I was, and I do not mean hair perfectly done or this seasons new wardrobe; I’m referring to being able to be myself again and just talk. I found myself battling with the idea that f if I engage with the outside world, was I abandoning Isla? Or if I didn’t engage with the outside world, would I forever lose myself?
Isla is now 10 months old and I would like to say I have cracked this balance, but the solution hasn't come yet. I’m okay with that, and I feel more myself each day. I returned to work 2 months ago and slowly I am becoming able to realise it's okay to be me.
Maternity leave is a frightening , claustrophobic bubble sometimes, in between the moments of extreme happiness and love; for new mums and seasoned mums alike...it’s okay to feel isolated and it’s okay to lose yourself. Just remember to always re focus on yourself, and remember you are important. It’s important to be the happiest, best version of you for you and your children.
Author credit: Constance Smith