September 7, 2011

Have they eaten you alive??

When I started to think about the space in between as a mum it got me thinking about the gap between leaving your old life and introducing yourself to the big goopy mess of your new one – a life that involved large handbags full of mismatched baby socks, wet wipes and rescue remedy…for me that is, not the baby.

I was reading an article about the disasters that strike when you become a new mum, and it reminded me of the urgent sensation I lived with in those first few weeks willing myself to make it to six weeks – for me the mythical six week milestone was when breastfeeding would get easier, when disjointed hours of sleep would settle down and when I could work out how to make life normal again. The writer* spoke about the trauma of ending up in hospital at that miracle six week stage with a burst caesarean scar and a misplaced nipple shield. The part that stood out for me was this…

After a week in hospital, endless drips and managing a baby quite distressed from the antibiotics in his system, I was discharged, even more uneasy than the first trip home from the maternity ward. I sat on the front fence of the hospital waiting for my husband to locate our car. The breeze was warm and the street front alive with pedestrians fixed on their own agendas. I suddenly experienced deep pangs of jealousy for women in high heels click-clacking the pavement, even the taxi drivers meandering through the heavy Sydney traffic. Echoes sounded of a Gwen Harwood poem I studied once at school about a mother, sitting in the park with her daggy clothes and her three children, when she has a chance meeting with a past lover. Her past and present worlds collide. Identities lost. Opportunities missed. Things left unsaid. When he leaves, she is nursing her child and To the wind she says, ‘They have eaten me alive.’

…and thats when it struck me, the space in between is the space new mums have to navigate between packaging up and storing away their old lives (I often fantasise that mine is in a giant space bag, sucked dry by the vacuum cleaner) and acknowledging, no admitting, that their new lives are filled with a whole different kind of crazy. I’d forgotten the gripping fear I felt when I too stepped out of the hospital 48 hours after having my first child, I was scared to rejoin the world…the sun seemed brighter that it had been two days before (although I had lost my favourite sunnies as I walked into the maternity ward – actually I think I had flung them across the garden mid contraction).

Watching people get on with their lives became a past time I embraced after the birth of both my babies – so on those days when it does feel a little too much, when it feels like your old life is lost in translation, perhaps embrace a little of Gwen Harwood and just whisper ever so quietly at those passing by that they too ‘have eaten me alive’…

 

*the writer was my sister…nothing like a bit of cross promotion!

PS for mums struggling with their ‘new’ lives pop over to Gidget Foundation for some great resources if you need to reach out

Join the conversation! 26 Comments

  1. i’m thinking about “the space in between” as a mother of teens…the fear that follows you around when the apron strings are stretched …the increasing space between your life and their life?? or is it between your old life (as a needed mother) and your new life (as a …..???)?

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  2. So true…I think I fool myself, I keep saying “I can’t wait until the day when…’ but I know when I get to that time, when Im not needed, Ill feel redundant and Ill have to forge a new identity….its all just one big giant rollercoaster interspersed with some really great moments…my poor son will be forced to stay at home until he’s 40…thanks for commenting K

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  3. As my second child is just over a year now and I have been home with the kids for 3 and a half years I am yearning to get a bit of freedom back. I love watching my littlest grow and learn but I do find that I just want a little space for myself. It is so hard to meet everyone’s needs without ignoring yourself. Great blog Sarah.

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  4. Brought a tear to my eye! The words [from the “writer”], ‘Her past and present worlds collide. Identities lost.’ reminds me of my life with my children. Somehow I have become lost in a world fighting (for my children) for fairness, equality, and tolerance. It really is a situation I have not known before, and in the fight I am unsure where I end and they begin. On the days where I too have been eaten alive by the struggles of prejudice, I remind myself how 2 beautiful little girls are so much more than any indulgence, pleasure, or opportunity the “past” life could ever offer. Thanks for the reminder!

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    • Thats the reason why we have to talk up and talk loud…eaten alive might suggest something awful but for me I was happy for the old me to be devoured as the new life gave me so much more than I had before…Ang…you rock!

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  5. For me, the space when I reconciled my old life to my new life was thrust upon me earlier than expected and taken up with stays in hospital and coming to terms that my ‘new life’ wasn’t going to be at all like I had planned (my first babies were twins born 11 weeks prem )…. and because it was all so difficult I just didn’t do it. I separated myself from my babies and just kept going through the motions… for months…

    The term ‘they’ve eaten me alive’ makes me almost wistful as I didn’t let my girls do that to me for a long long time….

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    • Thats so honest and so true Kate…Im just about to spend three nights away from my babes and Im struggling to manage – thank you for commenting, I love your blog…Sarah

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  6. I remember expecting all to be ‘fixed’ by six weeks. Never happened here. Not with one of my four. In fact I am still waiting for a couple of them to ‘sleep through the night’ consistently (after 6 1/2 years!). It is what it is, but I love the ‘space in between’ concept. Thanks for joining the DP Blog Carnival x

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    • Thanks MM…its great to read some posts from blogs I havent been to before (esp the wanderlust one considering Im a redhead) x

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  7. I was very very lucky, I transitioned fairly well and I had babies that were kind to me. But I have recently watched a friend struggle quite a bit. Desperate to love her new life but struggle to deal with all it dishes up. I try and be a means of support best I can and am grateful my trasition was not too difficult.

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  8. It’s such a hard time, coming to terms with the fact that you can’t ever completely go back. I found it very hard myself, but luckily over time have learnt how to integrate the bits I loved from my “old” life with my “new” life.
    Visiting you from DP blog carnival 🙂

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    • Thanks Janelle…it is a great knack to merge the old with the new, I find if I slot in time with old friends within a few minutes I start to get my old groove back – thanks for visiting

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  9. I remember how things went from bad to worse for me at six weeks with both children. The endless settling and breastfeeding that didn’t quite go according to plan. Those first few months make me recoil with horror, especially with my first son. So glad they are now school aged and no longer so needy and dependent on me for nearly every breath. I could never do that again.

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    • Thats six week mark is a killer Dorothy. I can remember hanging out for it and then feeling so lost once it came. Two is enough for me, I know how much I can handle x

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  10. What a great first post Sarah! I love the thinking behind your blog name – that space in between your old life and the new one as a mother. I totally get that. I remember, even before my first child was born, feeling adrift and alone when I left work on my last day. I really didn’t know what to expect but I knew that nothing would ever be the same again. Thanks so much for linking up to I Must Confess this week!

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  11. Oh wow. Thank you so much for linking up this post. I LOVE IT! And the link to your sisters one as well… I love it. I’ve often considered the link between old me and new me, but I’ve not really written or spoken about it for fear of sounding ungrateful…
    Great post. Sharing it! xx

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  12. an absolutely beautiful post! I could relate to every single word
    I adore that extract – off to read the whole article
    a perfect beginning indeed xx

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  13. Beautiful and insightful post. I remember having my first baby, I was a 30 year old woman, but I’d never held a baby before, so I definitely relate to before and after being two different worlds.

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    • I was 28 Ness when I had my first babe and I felt like a baby myself. They are two worlds that sometimes collide but then sometimes intersect x

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  14. A very honest and raw first blog post. Beautiful writing. Motherhood seems to strip us down to our very core, exposing all that is true for us.

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    • I think Ive become more ME than I was ever before after I became a mum. The process of birthing babies, of relying on yourself to allow them to grow and thrive. Best learning experience life can throw at you – thanks Lisa x

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  15. What a great first post – definitely a post written from your heart.
    Have the best week !
    Me
    #ConfessionTime visitor

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  16. Well two years later, still a great post. I don’t have that birth and newborn experience to compare to, and sometimes I struggle to comment on posts like this, but you know there is nothing quite like being eaten alive by a 1 year 0ld (and later a nine month) – hint they have teeth! And they have no bloody idea how you came to be in their lives. As surreal as childbirth must be, WOW adoption, those first moments and days of it, are as unreal as you could imagine.

    Reply

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