My daughter turned six months old yesterday. Six months. Where have the last six months gone? To be honest, where has the last year and a bit gone. It’s a strange blur where life is completely familiar but at the same time totally different. As Eleanor hits her six month birthday I thought it would be a good time to do a quick personal update, but – a little self-indulgently – about me and where I’m at. After half a year on from having my first baby, having life as I know it turned upside down but also knowing life goes on and it’s just a case of trying to adapt to the new normal.
I’ll start with the obvious bit and probably the easiest. I’m physically fine, all recovered from the actual birth as I hope to be by now. I am however, a good few lbs heavier than I was pre baby. But weight loss hasn’t been my priority and to be completely honest, probably never will be. I find as soon as I make it a focus all I want is fast food and bad habits. But at the same time, I can generally fit or ‘squeeze’ into most of my old clothes. So it’s not all bad and definitely not keeping me up at night.
But body changes are part of the deal I guess. Beyond that, I’d say I’ve adapted to mum life better than I ever expected I would. I didn’t really feel like the most maternal of people before and probably still don’t. But it’s definitely different having your own.
That’s not to say it’s all been a breeze. Overall, I’d say that the actual ‘task’ of looking after a baby hasn’t been the most challenging part for me. I’ve found the adapting to the lack of freedom and flexibility harder. The new found lack of time to do what you want or even need to do. Because so much time is taken up with general baby tasks. Plus that change was hard before I even tried to throw working again into the mix.
There’s a lot I do miss about old life, I miss being available and flexible enough to take on any and all work projects that piqued my interest. As it stands, whilst I’m back to working, I am limited on what I can take on by the amount of time I can be available for. The feeling of guilt between wanting to work and wanting to do the best for my daughter is tricky. I would love to be in two places at once. I don’t want to miss out on these early months with her as she changes SO much all the time. But at the same time there’s a side of me that’s just itching to grab every hour I can and throw myself back into work. That side is partly driven by a need to make sure the old brain still works alongside repeating banana related nursery rhymes and changing nappies. Plus partly by a desire to get that satisfaction of working and earning money and by the fear of the blogging world leaving me behind… but that’s a whole other can of worms I don’t want to open right now.
I have definitely found that trying as much as I can to get back to work – being flexible around baby life – has helped me adapt and not feel like I’ve ‘lost myself’ too much over the last six months. Which has been one of my biggest fears around becoming a mum – I hated the idea that the ‘me’ I had been for the 30+ years before Eleanor arrived just vanishing and being replaced by this new mum version of me. I desperately wanted to cling on to the things that were important to me, but also want to be the best mum I can. It’s an ongoing juggle and honestly a juggle only made possible thanks to the amazing help from my mum and my mother in law and of course Ollie.
Something that has probably surprised me more than I would have predicted is how much I’ve loved these early weeks. Which I appreciate might sound bizarre. But hear me out. I was all set for the first few months to be a sleepless blur of a nappies and screaming. But I’ve been so pleasantly surprised! Honestly, I love spending time with Eleanor. Just pushing her around Sainsbury’s was made more enjoyable thanks to her wide-opened smiles and giggles. These last few months as she’s become more engaged and responsive has been lovely. Sure, I can’t guarantee that she will sleep on every car journey like I could early days. But generally she’s pretty chilled and just happy so it doesn’t make getting out and about all that hard.
Speaking of getting out, one of the things that’s made all the difference to how I’ve felt over the last few months has to be my group of new ‘mum friends’. Honestly, the group of girls I’ve met around having a baby have been amazing. Having friends local to where we live, who I meed up with pretty much weekly has been amazing. The best bit, we don’t just talk about nappy rash and sleep schedules?! Sure, there’s a healthy dose of baby talk – but not just baby talk. A highlight being a local baby group we go to where the babies gets to lay on the floor with a load of toys whilst we have a natter with a coffee and the good cookies.
So yes, so at this six month point I would say that this motherhood thing is pretty good. I’ve definitely felt like I’ve taken it more in my stride more than I expected and I really enjoy my days with her. My biggest challenge is juggling that with work and feeling like I’m not doing all I can work wise, but the more time I give it the more I feel like I take that time from her. Which I’m pretty sure sums up how life is going to feel going forward… mum guilt is a thing!
The majority of the photos from this post were taken at Rimrock Ranch, California where I was for Zoe & George’s wedding recently. Being away on my own for nearly a week was such a mixed bag. Whilst I had such a fantastic time, I did find it SO much harder than I expected to be away from Eleanor but at the same time it was really refreshing to have a week just being me and not thinking about all the mental load of things that come with baby care. But I felt that they’re a good little representation of me still being me – which is one of the many reasons taking the trip to America was so important to me. To see Zoe and George marry in their favourite place, but also as my own little reminder of the independence I love and value so much. That whilst might not be quite as free as it was – when I get those little windows of time or freedom I have really learnt to treasure and try to make the most of them!
Main images: Dress – Oliver Bonas (currently on sale for £25!), Jacket – Topshop (old), Hat – Accessorize (old).
Photos by Lily Melrose