Bex’s maternity-leave diary and her response, one year later...
Updated: Apr 28
Hi, I’m Bex.
I know guest blogs don’t typically start with a self-introduction, but I’d feel as though I threw you right in if I didn’t at least say ‘hi’. I’m an author, and a mum.
I wanted to share with you an excerpt from my book, Mum’s the Word: the shit nobody tells you about parenthood until it’s too late. I wrote it whilst on mat leave, and I know some of you girls will be feeling exactly like this now.
I also wanted to share my response to that lost, postpartum woman, a year on; to show you that it gets better.
Nobody told me that I would lose myself. That some days I’d crave my old life and all that came with it. That I’d miss the spontaneity, the freedom and my sense of self. That I’d even miss going to work. Then the mum guilt hits.
How could I possibly grieve for my old life when I’m meant to be so overwhelmingly besotted with my new, shiny, shit-stained one? People would give anything for the gift of a child, I know, I’ve been right there in the fertility clinic with the best of them.
But in amongst that infinite love and absolute joy was a little twinge of sadness as I realised that my life has changed immeasurably. Some days, even still, I find it sad that I can’t run off to New Zealand to do my PhD, or do another summer working at Disney World. And though Insta Mamas suggest that you ‘still can’, I’m not sure it’d be the same on 3 hours sleep and a tiny person sucking on your nipples.
I’ve also changed as a wife. My priority isn’t Danny anymore. He isn’t my number one. And just writing that makes me cry. I’m too exhausted to make an effort anymore. I snap at him for the smallest of things because I spend all day in the damn shithole of a house – which no matter how often you clean still ends up a bomb site – or surrounded by mums who are just fucking boring.
For the first few months of Isabelle’s life, I think we just existed. We survived day-by-day and our communication was purely based around what time the new tenant had woken, fed or shat. I lived on auto-mum mode until I reached breaking point when she was about 3 and a half months old. I couldn’t be this baby feeding robot anymore. She would scream constantly and I would cry right alongside her. I wanted out. Not out of her life, just out of the house without a massive bag full of baby shit. Just a shower on my own. Just one full night’s sleep.
So, I contacted work and asked if I could do a couple of Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. I contacted my friends and asked them to meet up for tea; without the kids. And I told Danny I needed him at home more.
It wasn’t me failing, it was me recognising that I needed to find me again. I love being Mum, but I love it even more when I’m refreshed after a little break. Nobody tells you it’s OK to want a break from your kids. Maybe a screaming toddler or a moody-ass teenager. But not a newborn.
But here I was searching for breathing space away from the snuggles of a teeny helpless little person. Not because I didn’t love her, but because I remembered that I needed to still love me.
It’s still difficult to read those words back. I want to grab that new mama and tell her ‘it will be ok’. I want to hold her, pour her a gin and tell her about all the wonderful things that are to come. I want her to know that that little baby will grow into the strong-willed, independent and funny little Isabelle that I know now. I want to tell her that nobody gives a shit that your house is up the wall, and that her and Danny will be ok.
Importantly, I want her to know that needing a break isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Being a mum isn’t a sprint, it’s a shit tonne of marathons, and you start them without ever having set foot on a treadmill. That breather is sometimes your only way to survive the next mile.
Looking at who I’ve become now, I’m a far cry from the girl in book one, but I’m still trying to find my feet every single day. I still have to accept parcels through the window because I’ve lost my key, my body still looks like it needs an iron, and I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing. But, I’ve stopped reflecting on all of the things I can’t do, and I’ve started exploring some of the things that I still can, like a masters degree, a long bath after bedtime, and time away with the girls.
About the author
Rebecca has always had a passion for writing; finally realising her dream of becoming an author during maternity leave, after the birth of her daughter, Isabelle. She currently works as a Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist in Liverpool.
Rebecca grew up in Liverpool with her Mum and younger brother. She is now living in Warrington with her childhood sweetheart, Danny, and their daughter.
Mum's the Word is her first publication, focusing specifically on the trials and tribulations of the first year of parenthood, with her highly-anticipated sequel being released on 1st May 2021.