The first symptom I spotted was the sudden weight gain — 6kg in 6 weeks. I had recently come off the pill as my husband and I were going to try to have a baby. Then, I found a single black facial hair on my chin and felt my stomach drop. My 29-year-old body was becoming foreign to me.
I was diagnosed with PCOS 3 months later, and the hopes and dreams of getting pregnant were shattered in that doctor’s office.
But I picked myself up and became determined to be part of the positive statistics of this horrible and understudied condition.
Every time I saw a pregnant woman, I took it as a sign that it would soon be my turn. I held friends’ babies at every opportunity. I read blogs and personal stories of women who got pregnant despite their own battle with PCOS and other fertility issues.
I got pregnant naturally 9 months later. Our son is 2-and-a-half years old and he’s my little miracle.
So when I got pregnant again in January this year, I was bursting with joy more than you can ever imagine.
I put my middle finger up at PCOS twice.
But then, a little pang of anxiety hit me.
. . .
Sh*t, Sh*t, Sh*t, Sh*t!
Shivers run down my spine as I remember the long, sleepless nights followed by the long, lonely days of having a newborn. It dawns on me how I have all that potentially coming again, and somehow I still need to keep up with my tornado son.
You must remember if you’re a parent how detrimental to your physical and mental health it can be to have a baby. We know all about post-natal depression. But it’s not till you’re in the thick of it that you ask yourself, “how on earth am I going to get through this”?
And somehow, you do. You conquer. You come out the other side greyer, with a few more wrinkles on your face, but wiser, and with more love.
Advice about early motherhood rolls off my tongue easily now, probably a little patronizingly, too. I realize every experience is different. I understand that every parent and child bond is unique. But I also feel like my experience gives me credibility. Like I know what I’m talking about when I tell another parent:
“You’ve got this.”
Only now, I’m not experienced in having 2 kids. I’m in parenting class 2.0.
My burning question is, how the bloody hell am I expected to do this again while still witnessing my firstborn’s growth with the unconditional love of a mother?
Ok, I have another question: how am I supposed to keep learning how to bring up a child while also establishing a bond with my newborn?
My mind is racing now: how do I split my time even half-fairly?
And how will my husband do it when he has the added pressure of a full-time job as a Busy and Important Man?
Juggling practical and emotional logistics did not get taught to me in school.
I have 7 weeks-ish to get my head right before the baby is here and I’m back into that role of New Mother with the already established role of Current Mother. During an ongoing pandemic, no less. With zero support from family, FYI, since our families live abroad.
Here’s what I have come up with so far, for those who are maybe going through similar circumstances. Any further advice is welcome!
. . .
Coping With Change
Change in life is ironically constant. We go through the motions, big and small, and we adapt as we go along. Some adapt better than others. I thought I could take on any change like a boss.
I’ve gone through 2 country moves, I’ve learned new languages, and met all kinds of personalities and walks of life. I’ve loved all the adventures and the learning. There were of course some hard times, but overall, I thrived with change.
But the transition into motherhood was by far the hardest.
I could deal with the frustration of not understanding a system in a country for months before being able to finally open an account and get paid. But I couldn’t deal with the lack of sleep or the identity shift brought on by a newborn.
I pulled through the toughest breakup from a toxic relationship when I was 20. But that was nothing compared to the emotional turmoil of not being able to enjoy a nice evening with my husband when our 4-month-old son was waking up every 15 minutes because he missed his pacifier.
I could deal with the bullying at school, and the harassment at work. But I turned into the devil himself if someone dared criticize or give me unsolicited advice about how I should parent.
We can’t prepare for every single event of our lives or how we will feel about them.
But we can cut ourselves some slack by acknowledging that we aren’t OK.
. . .
As Long As We Find A Way To Pull Through
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”― Wayne W. Dyer
I gave myself no choice but to get through the toughest days with my newborn. Because it was not OK for me not to be OK.
I got myself out of my state of negativity because I need to teach my son how to do the same if he ever finds himself in a place of suffering.
I dealt with my anger, my shame, my anxiety, and my sadness because I need to teach my son how to cope with uncomfortable emotions.
It’s OK to not be OK for as long as we don’t stop there. I say I used my son as my motivation, but really, it came from within because I wanted to be happy. I don’t want to feel bad. I don’t like to feel sad. I understand that things will happen out of my control that will test my emotional resilience, but I don’t have to give in to the sadness for long.
No matter what changes come our way, there is always a way through. There is always a period of adaptation, and we can choose how long it takes us to settle back down and feel safe again.
I need to take this attitude into motherhood 2.0. I need to know that I will get through it all if only I just remember how I have conquered before. And I will pull through again.
. . .
Using Difficulty To Our Advantage
“Everything negative — pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise.” — Kobe Bryant
I know that struggle is a breeding ground for opportunity.
Opportunities are available to everyone and they can be found everywhere. This may be annoying to hear because you may feel that this is not true. I definitely have felt deprived of them, and I’d be a liar if I denied ever feeling envious of those who were ahead of me at anything I wanted to achieve.
But it all has to do with our attitudes.
After I panicked at the notion of going into social isolation and fought myself not to check the news every 5 minutes at the start of the pandemic, I decided to take the time to really reflect on what’s important.
We were safe. We were healthy. We were financially prepared if the hubby was to be furloughed from his job or worse.
Tick, tick, tick. We could do this.
I turned the pandemic into an opportunity.
I channelled my inner self and aimed to get better at seeing problems objectively. I learned how to tone down and manage my anxiety with books, podcasts, and of course, practice. I studied the art of not giving in to emotionally spiralling.
I used the power of gratitude first, and studied The Law of Attraction. Then, I started to change my train of thought. If I could think so negatively, I could give positivity a chance. I stopped complaining and listening to gossip. Every small change towards improvement made a huge impact on my wellbeing and my approach towards parenting as a whole.
I took up writing during my baby’s nap times and bedtimes to keep my brain ticking and to share my journey to loving myself.
We were only allowed outside for exercise once a day, so I started walking with my baby in the carrier and found myself losing the excess baby weight.
I turned to nature and let my body take me on an impromptu journey to self-care by engaging all my senses while outside in the woods, at the beach, or at a lake. The comforting smell of pinewood; the soothing sound of a fish splashing in the water; the singing birds; the sight of a squirrel running up a tree; the calming feeling of sand under my feet.
It really was a lonely year with all the social restrictions and yet, I had never felt so much love. Love for oneself, it seems, is priceless.
The cherry on top — my relationship with my husband drastically improved with the extra quality time. We managed to have a lot of heart-to-hearts that weren’t timed in the morning rush of him going to work. We took the time to respond to the other rather than brushing each other off with a yawn on the stairs up to bed. We heard each other. We prospered again.
What did I do for all of this to happen?
It started with the decision to be deliberately positive, and the opportunities for improvement flooded in.
. . .
The Simple Decision To Be Optimistic Prepares You For Success
If I have to be honest, I say 2020 was one of the best years of my life in terms of personal growth. And if I thrived during the lockdowns, one of the most globally catastrophic times in the last 50 years, I can thrive through struggles again.
I can be a boss mom of two and still grow. I just have to be open to the possibility of success.
Look into your own past and find a time when you saw the light at the end of the tunnel. When an opportunity arose out of nowhere during a difficult time.
If you struggle with this, give yourself the free but extremely powerful gift of possibility — or rather, the certainty, that you can literally expect something amazing to help you get through everything in life. If you’re used to thinking that things will be bound to go wrong, daydream for a bit about the goodness that could come out instead — it’s only fair.
Assume this will happen. Become entitled to the luck so many seem to profit from.
I know I can smash it as a mother twice over. I know I can continue working on my goals as a writer and as a stay-at-home parent. I simply have to keep an open and positive mind.
I know you can do the same.
. . .
I fought PCOS and won twice. I mustn’t take this win for granted.
I also can’t wait for that love to burst out of me again in the way that it did when we had our first son. I know that if I focus on love, it will be a lot easier to cope.
But I don’t have any false expectations about the ease of entering motherhood again while continuing to boss it with my firstborn. I know it’s going to be hard and I know I will be tested physically and emotionally, even if I will be loving on my newborn unconditionally.
I’ll take the lessons I learned so far with me and apply them to my future, while also seeking to learn some more. In fact, I will take all the challenges to come as lessons of their own and won’t become offended if they’re hard.
I will use change to my advantage and find opportunities in the mud.
And I will thrive, even if it doesn’t feel like it until afterward.
. . .
Now I’d love to know, how have you mastered parenting? What tools have you used to help you get through the dark days?
This post was previously published on A Parent Is Born.
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