My pregnancy with Jack was blissfully normal. One of the biggest benefits of having a baby young is that your body is physically primed for pregnancy. I felt like a beached whale at times, but overall I breezed through it.
I had all the typical pregnancy symptoms: morning sickness in the first trimester; fatigue; bizarre food cravings (I ate corn on the cob with almost every meal in the third trimester!); swollen feet and hands; mood swings; heartburn; and others. But thankfully, my pregnancy progressed without a hitch.
Apparently my belly was so damn comfortable that Jack decided to stay put for two weeks after my due date. After trying every natural labour induction method known to man – from acupuncture to spicy food – I was induced at 41.5 weeks.
The labour was long and intense; the birth was very fast and frantic, as my little man was in distress. The whole process was scary and distressing, and nothing like what I expected. Luckily, my second birth experience was much more positive, but that’s a story for another time.
The moment they placed my precious squirming baby in my arms was truly the most surreal and magnificent moment of my life. To feel the weight of his little body on my chest, after carrying him inside me for nine long months was a potent mix of relief and love that I’d never experienced before.
The doctors took him away briefly because he was having trouble breathing, and Zane stood by his side and recorded his first big breaths. I looked at the midwife and said, “I just had a baby!” like I was trying to make sense of what had just happened. She smiled at me and said, “Yes you did, sweetheart”.
In the moment that Jack was born, I became a mother.
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” – Rajneesh
The first six months of Jack’s life was the most challenging time of my life. Besides all the normal newborn difficulties like learning to breastfeed and sleep deprivation, every day I was falling further down the Post Natal Depression rabbit-hole.
I had to learn how to care for a child, as well as how to function within my new role as somebody’s mother. And I’m still learning to this day. You can read more about my PND experience here.
I wish that I had experienced the joy that I hear other new mums talk about. I’ve mourned for the time that I lost when I was deep in the throes of depression. I look back at photos of my perfect, chubby baby boy, and try to piece together the memories that I have of his newborn days. The only thing that brings me comfort is knowing how deeply I love him now, in this moment, and how much he loves me back.
He may never fully comprehend the sacrifice and struggle that I went through to give him life, or maybe he will when he has a child of his own. But that’s what being a mother means: giving away a part of yourself to nurture another human being. Heartache and devotion.
This is my take on being a young mama: it’s hard. Unbearably hard at times. It will transform your life like nothing else. It will make you question yourself, and your worth, on a daily basis. It has the potential to break you.
It broke me.
But it also put me back together, piece by piece, until I was more me than before.
It will light you up and wake you up.
Becoming a young mama will help you to discover your power as a woman. It will give you a greater sense of purpose. You will uncover parts of yourself that you may have buried: your passion, your protectiveness, your animal instinct. It will fill you with love like nothing you’ve ever experienced.
And the thing I’ve learned over the last few years – now that I’m a not-so-young mama – is that these things are a part of becoming a mother, no matter what age that happens for you. Choosing to have a baby at age 21 simply meant that I got to learn these lessons earlier.
So, despite the struggle and the loss and the darkness, I am grateful.
I would love to hear from you!
How did you feel when you held your precious bundle for the first time?
What did you learn as a new mama?
Please share with me in the comments below. And remember lovely, your story might be just what someone else needs to hear today.