Nothing prepares you for how having a baby changes things. Not just logistics and sleep. But also your sense of self: ‘who you are’ gets thrown in the air.

In my experience, someone like the person you once emerge in time. But it can take a while and the wait for that to happen can feel like an eternity. Here Lou of Woman Ready Blog talks about her experience of re-finding herself again:

  • I just didn’t feel like me anymore.  I’m not quite sure when it happened exactly but I had begun to have these overwhelming moments of wondering who I was and what I was doing.  Sometimes it would stop me dead in my tracks and I would feel at a loss as to where the old-me (the strong, capable, could-deal-with-anything-me) had gone.

  • Yep I had become a mum and had walked into motherhood naively and maybe with a tad of arrogance, thinking ‘what’s the fuss about?!  It can’t be this hard!’  I had been in corporate life for 15 years, surely having a baby and caring for him/her would be a walk in the park?   

  • BOOM.  

  • It all hit me.  The joy of a new born, the pain of bereavement (my mum passed away when I was 7 months preggers), the feelings of being totally inadequate as a new mum. 

  • A few months after my son was born, I remember walking around the town I lived in, pushing the pram and blubbing my eyes out.  Some days I felt in total control and other days totally out of my depth.  I missed my mum massively.  We had moved out of London to be near her and I had no-one to tell me, ‘it’s ok to feel like this, things will get better, you’re a good mum’. 

  • Motherhood just wasn’t what I thought it would be; it was hard. 

  • I think the problem was that I had so many expectations going into motherhood.  I had expected the pregnancy to be easy, but I had been floored with sickness in the first trimester.  I didn’t bloom at all!

  •  I also thought I would be an amazing mum and that I would instinctively know what to do.  But that didn’t happen either. 

  • Maybe I just needed to have had a little more faith in my abilities?  But it was all new and a little bit of a shock to the system!

  • And let’s not go into how the utter lack of sleep makes you feel.    

  • I found going back to work really tough even though I had only taken off 6 months mat leave. 

  • There was a massive dip in my confidence.

  • Some of the stuff I used to take in my stride just seemed more daunting and scary than before. 

  • I just remember feeling that I was really sh*t at my job.  There had also been some changes at work, some not that positive for me, and these had affected how I felt too.  And that’s a tough situation to go back into, for anyone, let alone a new mum.  It was disorientating. 

  • I didn’t feel that I was as valued as I had been, and I felt that people treated me slightly differently.  Looking back, I’m not sure if that was true or whether it was me just wrangling with how I was feeling internally.  

  • I read a lot about imposter syndrome and I was well and truly feeling it.

  • As someone who had worked for years, my identity was so heavily intertwined into my work-identity.  After becoming a new mum and having time off work, I wasn’t really sure who this new-me was anymore.  And, if I’m honest, I’m not sure that I liked her that much.  When I read that now, I’m annoyed for being so harsh on myself.

  • With work too, I found it easy to recognise when I was doing well.  I had monthly/yearly deliverables to achieve.  I knew when I had hit my targets.  People would give positive feedback.  I might get a little bonus, a pay increase. 

  • As a mum, I didn’t really get any feedback at all.  Actually, the only feedback I did get was from all the crap that was going on in my head and that wasn’t particularly positive. 

  • Over time and with hindsight, I realised that I would probably never get the old-me back but that wasn’t such a bad thing.  I did sort of miss her, but I had changed quite a lot.  And quite frankly, it was time to get to grips with the new-me and to stop giving myself such a bashing (in my head!)

  • We give ourselves a hard time, don’t we? 

  • Whether we’re mums or not, we put so much pressure and expectations on ourselves.  I found that I wanted to be perfect.  I wanted to be great at my job, be an amazing mum, to look fab and to effortlessly juggle everything.  The joke was on me, right?!  

  • For me, being a mum and trying to juggle work, kids, aging in-laws etc, has been tough.  I’ve struggled with it all.  I realise now that I set my expectations too high and didn’t take how I would feel into the equation.  I wasn’t remotely gentle on myself; something I regret now.

  • We forget about ourselves and often put ourselves way down the priority list, don’t we?  IMHO, it’s time to get a little bit of ourselves back.  

  • I decided a while ago that I would try to be a bit kinder to myself.  Yep I had changed but of course I had!  I wasn’t the old-me anymore, but I was the new-me and I wanted to embrace her more (rather than pandering to the past).

  • 12 years into being a mum, I realise that it is all a learning curve and we do the best we can.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still days when I think I’ve cracked it but other days when I still feel inadequate and go to bed vowing to stop shouting, be more patient, be a better mum.  But I try to be less harsh on myself and gently remind myself that we haven’t hit the teenage years as yet!   

  • I’ve started to invest in me a little more too by building some time in my week for me – to do some of the stuff that I like to do. It took a while to actually figure out what I liked to do or to remember it, I suppose.  But it has made a big difference to how I feel.  It was like reclaiming me back a bit.  And I’ve started a new business that I’m very excited about (just to add to the chaos!)   

  • I was a bit fed up with all the questioning going on in my head and all the sh*t I was feeding my mind.  Am I good enough?  Is my body lean-enough?  Have I been a crap mum today?  Blah blah.  In another post I wrote, I called it my Inner Bitch Voice and she can be a hard one to please!  I told myself to be gentler and I’m calming this voice in my head down as quite frankly, she is not my best advocate.  I am doing my best and that’s what matters.  It might not be up to my previous expectations or standards, but those can take a running jump!  I value my mind more these days.  

  • My body is amazing – stay with me here before you think, what the hell is she going on about or that she has got a big ego!  I refuse to feel rubbish about my cellulite, my saggy boobs, my thread veins etc.  My body has changed big time since kids plus I’m getting older.  However, I have built 2 little people – how bloody amazing is that!  

  • And as for work-work*, I’m not doing the same job I used too and sometimes that is tough.  Sometimes I want to shout, ‘I used to look after $m’s of business’.  However, I keep reminding myself that I am still the capable, experienced person I used to be.  No-one can take all that away from me, ever.  I now have other strings to my bow that I wouldn’t have had without having children.  My work-identity has definitely changed but I’m seeing that as a positive thing now.  * I’m calling it ‘work-work’ as I often find my ‘mum-work’ harder than work-work and wanted to acknowledge that! 

  • I mentioned above that I’ve set up a new business.  It’s something that I am really passionate about.  And this has helped me hugely with finding me again.  I think maybe it’s because it’s something for me – if that makes sense?

  • I’ve learnt that identity is a funny thing.  I’ve realised it can quite easily be shaken and it also can affect anyone, of any age and of either gender.      

  • I have spent a lot of time looking for the old-me which was maybe a mistake.  It ate away at my mental well-being.  I now feel like I know who I am again.  Yay!  It has taken time, tears and some soul-searching – but I quite like the new-me. 

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  • Reply Em October 30, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Thanks for such a great list. After recently having my second (giving me 2 under 2!) I had completely lost my sense of self.
    My kids are 22m and 5m and it is so hard being a SAHM with no time off!
    I’m trying to find small parts of me and piece it all back together. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone xx

  • Reply Tasha October 30, 2018 at 10:59 am

    So relatable, so unexplored and I am really grateful for your words. I just wonder if people reading might relate to easily to the confusion, feeling lost and overwhelmed, but struggle knowing how to reorientate themselves to moving through that. I just wanted to encourage those that struggle with the same to perhaps pick up a book called ‘Compassionate Mind’ (it’s available in all big libraries for free) and it is wonderful for understanding why we can become quite fixed in competitive, critical voice cycles that ultimately lead to negative feelings, rather than the good we optimistically went out looking for. It navigates the ‘theory bit’ and ‘what we can do about it’ very well.

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