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It occurred to me once my daughter was born, just how reclusive I’d become during my pregnancy.

Pregnancy hadn’t been easy for me. In fact just getting pregnant was a mission in itself, given all the emotions of an IVF journey. So once I got home from the hospital and adjusted to my new life, I could see how the balance of social versus family life had shifted dramatically and exactly how little contact I’d had with my closest friends over the past 12 months or so. I then felt like the worst friend in the world.

My morning sickness was mostly responsible, as I was so incredibly ill all the time, plus the bigger my belly got the less comfortable and more awkward I felt. Now I know what you’re thinking, “whinge, whinge, we all go through that when pregnant.” Fair call. And that’s why I felt the need to make it public.

Pregnancy, for some, is no joyous adventure. For some of us it is an almost unbearable experience, and for a select few it means they won’t ever try for more children, simply to avoid being pregnant.

Pregnancy is often falsely glamorized and it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming your own pregnancy will see you glowing in the good way (ie not from sweat), you’ll have the cutest little pot belly and a pain-free labour.

I’d love to meet a woman who has had that pregnancy and congratulate her.

I’ve always been the type of person that can quite easily be on their own, go to restaurants or fly solo at the cinema, but I’d never spent that little time with my friends. I found I was finding ways of not going out unless absolutely necessary, delaying message responses until rsvp deadlines had passed or simply not responding in some cases. It just wasn’t me.

You can imagine my excitement, the first night I was able to go out sans-baby. It was a friend’s birthday dinner and I’d become comfortable enough to organize a babysitter. It would only be a brief adventure out considering I was limited by the choice of wanting to breastfeed only at that point, but still, we were going out!

Hubby and I dressed up and made our way to the restaurant and for the 2 hours we were there I felt human again!

Over time, similar adventures out saw me slowly but surely reclaim the former me, and rejoin the human race, despite now having a mini-me in tow.

I realized that it was never going to be just me again, but I could still find the time to have one-on-one time with my girlfriends and balance out the baby-talk with the adult-talk. Even if my daughter was with me, I was still very much committed to the catch-up and no longer looking for a way out. And the more confident I became in my abilities as a mum, the more I was actually beginning to organize the events myself! This all might sound crazy if you’re a mum who managed to slide into parenthood with ease and had no real transitional issues. But for those of us who didn’t, it’s a bloody big step trying to maintain some sort of independence whilst being a good mum.

In retrospect I wish I simply had have told my friends exactly how crappy I was feeling, and that it wasn’t because of them that I was being evasive. I guess it’s just how I dealt with it.

We’re now in full flight and the social calendar is back on track thankfully, as I definitely couldn’t live without my nearest and dearest. Hopefully, second time around I’ll be a little more prepared for what to expect and can pre-empt the overall experience, not hide away waiting for it all to end.

  • Parenthood soon becomes loss of sleep, tons of extra washing, an extra room to keep clean unless baby is sleeping in the same room as you as most parents tend to do now – if you’re not renting and the bedroom is big enough to fit a cot in safely. I met one Mum who regular meets her girlfriend at a café. They both have babies approx. the same age. They only meet for a couple of hours. It gets them out of their own four walls. They occasionally go shopping together and take turns of briefly minding both babies while one tries on clothes.

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  • I didn’t have a social life before I had kids, so I didn’t miss it. My social life began when my kids came along actually

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  • I love that this has been written. The romantic notion that all will be a bed of roses to becoming a parent soon fades into the distance. Morning sickness especially if it is 24/7. Wake up from sleep throwing up is exhausting. Having people tell you how easy their pregnancies were and how perfect the family and loved ones helped out is great…however this is not so for everyone. Some new parents live a great distance from a loving and supportive family, some are very isolated indeed. Some are isolated emotionally when well meaning relatives and friends overload new parents with takes of woe and granny tales. New parents really need to pay attention at pre- birth classes, as the facts of not so perfect are well covered. Every pregnancy and birth is a unique experience. I am glad that there is more control given to parents these days surrounding this wonderful and sometimes stressful experience. I suggest to new parents to listen to the well intended advice, and thank the person and then do what your own instincts tell you. You don’t have to accept visitors until you are ready to. You don’t have to pass your baby around the gathering of the masses as if she/he were an object to be examined, admired or find fault with. If visitors ask if there is anything they can do to help, accept the help there is always something that needs doing, such as dishes washed, dusting, vacuuming, laundry, meal preparations. If they are genuine they will be eager to help and the ones who are not will make a quick retreat. Put a sign on the door stating to uninvited visitors that they need to phone before visiting and give the time frame that is convenient to you.
    Take the time alone with your new born, relax, learn what he/she is teaching you…yes teach you. They depend on you to meet all their needs and the only way they can communicate this is to cry. You will learn what the sounds of each cry mean. You can never “spoil” a baby. There is nothing wrong with attending to your baby when needed. It takes time to settle into a routine. There is so much support from your local pharmacy as they often have midwives employed there to guide you. It is great if you do have someone you can call on to come to your aid any time day or night, this is sometimes a grandparent or someone you share a close trusting relationship with. Many wonderful grandmothers and or grandfathers will travel great distance to support you and have stayed up all night with an unsettled baby so mother can get rest. These relationships save your sanity, so embrace their offers as long as you can switch off to well intended misguidance. No one will ever love your baby as much as you do except for loving grandparents, aunts and uncles. Babies can never have too many people loving them, so adopted grandparents are wonderful. Many practices have changed with each generation, but almost all advice and concerns do come from a place of love.

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  • Balance is the key, I wish I could have more me time, but it won’t happen for a long time :(

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  • I find it hard to balance my social life against the rest of the family!

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  • An interesting read thanks for sharing

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  • Reading this article made me remember how blessed I really was during my pregnancy, with the exception of OHS at the very start of it I had a dream pregnancy and only started feeling uncomfortable in the last couple of weeks. In saying that we have since become semi-recluses as it’s sometimes just easier to shut ourselves away from the world…..

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  • Yes having a baby is certainly not as cool and fun as what people make it out to be. It is scary really. However the end result of most is a beautiful baby who grows up with in the quiet times you realise how lucky you are.

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  • I was the first of my friends to have a baby & they were, initially, interested, supportive & came to me as I had horrendous all day sickness…. but I found I was internalizing, couldn’t concentrate & started to see importance in different things, and the novelty wore off from them. It’s hard work this gearing up for Mum business.

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  • Great article Heather. If only we Mum’s could be more honest with ourselves and ask for help or call a friend or organise our social lives better. When Dad gets home hand the baby over once in a while and take time out with your friends. Don’t feel guilty. Dad’s are great with their kids too! Friendships need constant work and it may just be a five minute phone call or SKYPE when baby is sleeping. Stay in touch it’s very important.

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  • So many mum find this, it can be a struggle to find who you are in the mist that we call parent hood

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  • I was still working with pregnancy number 1 but ended up with pregnancy induced epilepsy so had to give up work. Then i was the only one with a baby or small child so my friends were in different circles.

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  • Thanks for sharing your story. It resonated with me as my experience was so similar. Thank you.

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  • You’re so right, pregnancy is often glamorized, and it’s just not like that for most women. We’re often made to feel like we should be able to cope with anything pregnancy throws at us, while still maintaining a sweat-free,model-image, sweet tempered, super woman facade to the world. It’s hard, and I know I retreated from “the world outside’, as it was easier for me. It took a lot of “baby steps” for me to be able to join the human race again, but I’m glad I did.

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  • Can\’t deny children are a gift and make life pretty special though.
    I simply love the innocence of children. :-)

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