I never thought I wanted to be a mom | KISKA
I never thought I wanted to be a mom. The idea of someone being totally dependent on me was overwhelming and not my idea of fun. I enjoyed having a progressive career (which required long hours) and didn’t want obstacles slowing or stopping me from upward mobility. I spent my spare time cycling, cooking, keeping a very clean house, going on holidays, weekend trips away, reading and relaxing on the evenings and weekends. All things that required selfish time. I also liked my body, how it looked and felt. After extensive research and hearing friends experiences I feared for what my body would become after pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
Over the years my husband and I discussed whether we wanted children and when. We went back and forth between being career oriented and wanting a family. It was pretty clear my husband wanted a family. I was usually a no.
Just before my 30th birthday I made a subconscious decision that I was ready to be selfless with regards to my time, energy and body. I announced to my husband I was ready to start a family…he was thrilled.
Our journey wasn’t quick; however, we always agreed we didn’t want it to be stressful. If we couldn’t have children then our decision was made for us. We found out I was pregnant on the first day I started a new job*. I was devastated. My husband was elated. I had stayed in my previous job because of the maternity leave then finally made a move to progress my career, and now that I was pregnant I knew I wouldn’t be able to shine at work as I had hoped.
Fast forward 17 months, I have an eight month old baby and I am loving it. Why? It started with a supportive husband who was involved and excited throughout the pregnancy and the most difficult few weeks as a new mom. A family who were over the moon to finally be grandparents, aunts, uncle, great grandparents, great aunties, great uncles and cousins. Having the opportunity to take one year off on maternity leave to spend quality time watching my son grow and develop without the stress of going to work.**
I also took a phenomenal Hypnobirthing course that completely changed my perspective on childbirth and how much of an impact a mother’s stress levels had on the child. I went from being stressed, anxious and overwhelmed about the birthing process to looking forward to what my body and the baby would be able to achieve together as a team. Most importantly from the Hypnobirthing course, I met some amazing women. This group of women were the start of my new “mom tribe”: women who would try their best to have low drama pregnancies and labours, raise loving caring children, follow their instincts and listen to advice (when it felt right) from those who had gone before us.
Since my son was born, I have continued to build my tribe with women and men who help to build me up and make being a “mom” more interesting and enjoyable. I have groups that I go to that are often focused on the baby, but quickly turn into chats about what is going on in the news, our local area, how we will handle going back to work, what our jobs are, etc.. I have women and men I can depend on. This group works hard not to judge each other and the decisions we are making, and shares what they are doing, what is working and what isn’t working. We also try really hard to be positive with each other. Yes, this is hard work! Complaining to each other about what our significant others aren’t doing, what we are lacking (mainly sleep and exercise) or what we are missing isn’t going to change. We have had to figure out how to be happy and healthy with these new little bundles of energy who have limited control over their basic needs and emotions. We have created opportunities and experiences that enrich our babies as well as ourselves. For example, a friend and I go to baby soft play and then head over to a bouldering spot to do a bit of climbing for ourselves. We take turns climbing while the other one watches the babies. It allows us to continue to do something for ourselves, build confidence while also making sure the babies are well taken care of and having fun.
I know I’m lucky with my tribe. I live in London and have so many people around me with babies of a similar age. Most of my tribe are foreigners like myself and see the value in building a strong network of people to depend on. We don’t have family members near by, have a limited support network and need to build a community. As a result of living abroad, these individuals are typically more open to various perspectives, had different experiences growing up and are more mature parents. I feel this gives us depth that allows us to see that parenting is a series of choices and options and there isn’t a one-size-fits all baby mentality. It has helped me to stop judging others and the decisions they make.
I know this is just the start in my journey as a mom. I have a lot more to figure out as I return back to work in a few months. I will have to juggle progressing my career and being a mom. I do think this time away has given me a new level of depth that will make me a better employee. My friends who are returning to work now are sharing their experiences and helping me to shape what I need to put into place to be successful. I am so pleased and appreciative for the people I have met who help to bring the best out of each other. It has helped make me a better mom and a better person in general. I hope to continue to build my community and to make a positive difference for the next group of moms coming along.
*For a future blog post, but basically starting while pregnant meant no maternity pay as I needed to be with my company for at least one month before I became pregnant according to UK law. This highlights how our laws and policies hinder women from leading progressive and aggressive careers.
**In the UK it is expected for the child to have one year at home with one of their parents before starting nursery. Typically the mother takes off the majority of the leave. I will take off 11 months in total and my husband will look after our son for the 12 month.