I think things will be different this time around. Or at least I hope they will.
Does that make me a bad person?
Last time I had a new baby, I was 24 and pretty much the only one of my friends who had taken that giant leap into procreation.
Realistically, my boyfriend (now husband) and I hadn’t been together very long and probably didn’t know each other very well and so I think the problem was my own expectations.
I expected the baby to arrive and everything to become picture perfect.
I expected my husband to go gaga over this tiny new life we had created and all of a sudden completely change his personality and become this soppy dad that you see in movies climbing about in soft-play or joining in a rhyme time. But in reality I should have listened to him when he told me he wasn’t that into babies.
Some men are and that’s great.
But he was pretty clear about it. He didn’t try and trick me into thinking he would be mega hands on and then let me down at the last minute or anything.
I mean sure, he wanted to have a baby and start a family but he made it clear that the baby phase wasn’t his bag and he was pretty sure he would come into his own when they reached toddlerhood. All of which came true. He is an incredible dad to our daughter and I have no doubts he will be to this baby too.
Yet I spent that baby phase wanting him to change and be something he wasn’t and all it did was make me miserable. I developed pretty severe anxiety, that still occasionally gets to me now.
I would go days without leaving the house or speaking to any one when I was in the thick of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of help from my family. I had people to babysit, to watch her while I slept and come with me to baby groups.
I had people buying us things and generally being involved but that help soon started to turn toxic and left me questioning every decision I made. From what pushchair I bought, how I weaned to whether or not I was even cut out for motherhood at all.
I was outright told I wasn’t a very good mother and it was crippling.
But it was also a turning point.
It was a really miserable time.
And yet this time, I am confident things will be different.
Firstly, we moved.
Those toxic influences had pushed me too far into a bad place and I had to make a decision to pull away from them. It is never easy to cut someone out of your life but sometimes for your own health it needs to be done. You should never feel you have to have someone in your life who makes you feel bad about yourself. Who you are scared to tell things to or who you life to because you know you will get a lecture otherwise.
Family is difficult isn’t it.
But just because they fall under the umbrella of ‘family’, why does that give them a license to tear you down?
My husband gave me that confidence. He made me see that I didn’t have to allow anyone to speak to me in a way that I didn’t like. I still try and practise that now, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I still wobble every time I have contact with certain people. I still am unsure of myself and the decision I made. But I have to trust that I am happy right now. Much happier than I have ever been and so surely that means I must have done something right?
Secondly, my marriage is strong. So strong.
We know each others strengths and weaknesses. We work as a team. I know my husband will rarely change a nappy, but I also know he will cook me three incredible meals a day once this baby arrives and I know how incredibly hard he works to provide for our family.
I have also seen how amazing he is with our daughter. She is a complete daddy’s girl and he has so much more patience than I do! He is most definitely the fun parent.
Thirdly, I am more confident.
In my own skin, in my own abilities, in my own decisions.
I have friends with children who have my back and support me. They have become that network that parents need and we all help each other out on a regular basis. It’s so nice having that support and having people to turn to. It makes all the difference.
I sat the other day looking back at old photos from when Isabelle was tiny and I remembered how desperately unhappy I was. I loved my baby and I was happy I was a mother but things were too tough. But this time will be different. I’m sure of it.