Parenting is hard. We all know this. And sometimes, it’s not as lovely as you imagine it to be.
When Esme was first born, it took me a while to get used to the transition. I found it hard bonding with this adorable little stranger, whom I felt an attachment to, but I wasn’t sure whether or not it was love I felt.
I knew the feeling of love. I’d known and still know it, having been so in love and besotted with Al.
But I wasn’t sure if I felt the same way about Esme. Maybe it was a different kind of love I felt for her. I didn’t know.
I found it hard talking to her and being able to be the upbeat silly one when she cried, which everyone else around me seemed to do so easily. It was difficult.
I wonder sometimes if my strong dislike of pregnancy played a part. To say I hated being pregnant would be a lie. I do miss it a lot.
But, what I don’t miss, was the fear of not knowing what life had in store for me, and the self consciousness I felt on a daily basis.
The stretch marks, the pale complexion and everything getting bigger and fatter, and there was nothing I could do about it. I wanted to have our baby so badly, but I wished that my body didn’t have to take a battering.
I couldn’t relate to people who said they loved being pregnant at all. Now, with pregnancy ending almost ten months ago, I can easily see the good bits. But I felt like a shell.
I felt as though nobody cared about how I was doing any more, and that all that ever mattered was the baby.
The baby, who I hadn’t met yet, and had already taken over my life.
I wondered if I was really ready, yet I wanted us to have our baby more than anything.
It was only when I went into labour did I realise how much I cared about the life we were bringing into this world. I needed to get her here safely, and it was all I could do to remain calm.
However, I found it hard to bond with her. I didn’t feel that rush of love that so many parents tell you about. The moment when nothing else in the universe matters, and all you can feel is the indescribable emotion and love for this child.
It didn’t happen for me then, and it wasn’t overnight either. It took me around three months to get there.
The first night Esme and I spent together was in a corner of a hospital ward, behind a curtain, with four other ladies and their babies hidden behind their curtains. And even though there were people there, I couldn’t help but feel alone.
With staying in a hospital overnight, which is situated 45 minutes away from my home, I felt a little sick at the idea of Al being that far away. I wished so badly that I could be home with him and our baby. Even though we’d spent the day together, it didn’t feel like it.
Esme was born at 17.44, and Al had left by 10pm. I needed him, but he wasn’t allowed to stay.
Ten months on, and I’m much better with this parenting malarkey, but I do get days where it seems all a bit much.
And, as I go to bed tonight, Esme is fast asleep in her cot. Her chest, silently rising and falling. I gaze at her, and think of how she is the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.
I remember how I used to dread the night feeds and would cry through exhaustion from being woken up every two hours, on the dot.
And now, as I lie in bed, a part of me hopes she will wake. Actually, all of me.
I want her to wake up and need me. To cuddle me. To sleep in my arms. I want her to miss me, and lie in the middle of the bed, with Al and I by her side, each of us with an arm around her.
Al and Esme are the most wonderful people in my life.
My family is everything.
If anyone reading this right now is struggling, you are not alone. Sometimes, parenting isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, and others, it’s everything you thought it would be and more.
I’ve learned that it’s not a competition to see who has the best parenting skills or who is the most organised – even sane! And when I realised this, I became more focussed on my own life rather than everybody else’s.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
We are all different, and we are all in this together.