Motherhood is all encompassing.
When you become a Mother, you are forever changed. You will never again be only you. No matter what happens, there will always be a part of your body and heart that no longer belongs to you, but to your child. I became a mama in 2016 with the birth of our first daughter, Ava. I will be forever grateful to her for all that she has taught me about parenthood, relationships and myself. The first year was really hard. Like really hard. No one can prepare you for the shock to your system. The pain of birth, the agony of mastitis, the torture of sleep deprivation. On the other hand, no one can prepare you for that beauty of looking into your child’s eyes, the joy of hearing them giggle for the first time, the incredible feeling of being the centre of this little persons world. Motherhood is a contradiction. It’s the hardest job but the easiest choice. The most painful and the most rewarding. The lowest paid and the highest compensation.
Our 2nd daughter Arya was born on NYE last year. And now with 2 little ones, I am stretched even further. I didn’t know how I would cope. How I could care as much for another babe as I did with our firstborn. Yet somehow your heart expands to include another. Without even trying, I’ve allowed another little one into our world.
As same-sex parents, it’s been an interesting dynamic to learn to be mothers together. However, I think like any couple, gay or straight, it’s all about learning to respect each other as individuals and as parents.
Try not to stress about all of the ‘small stuff’. Worrying about every single thing will do you no good. Babies are complicated little things and they need time to adjust to the world. Even when it feels like it can’t get any worse, I promise you, it will get easier. For example, after not sleeping for more than 2 or 3 hours for 8 months straight, I thought I would die. Seriously, did you know you can die from lack of sleep? And then Ava started sleeping for longer stretches, and life seemed a whole lot brighter. We are going through some more sleep challenges again right now, but I just keep telling myself that it’s not going to last forever. Of course with the arrival of the second baby, sleep kind of went out the window again. But knowing that this was coming and not making that big a deal out of it, genuinely helped to make it easier the second time around. There is a lot to be said for being easy going. Stress makes everything harder!
I’m not going to lie. Being a mama is relentless. With every other ‘job’ I’ve had in my life, there was always the option of quitting. Taking a break. The thing with motherhood, is that from the moment that baby is placed in your arms, there is no going back. No matter how old your children get or how far away from them you are, your heart will never again belong to only you. I saw a quote once that really sums it up for me.
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.’
And because it is so relentless, it means that more than ever you need to accept help from anyone who will give it. Don’t be too proud to say you need a hand. It took a while for me to figure that one out, and I wish I’d learned that quicker.
You need support. Whether it is practical help, emotional encouragement or just having someone to vent to. It can come from your partner, your family or your friends. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. We all need our tribe of people. Find your tribe and cling to them with both hands. No one can do it alone. We don’t need to be ‘superwoman’ and ‘have it all’. One of the healthiest things you can do is to ask for help. It shows strength and foresight to see that burning yourself out will do you and your family no good.
One last thing - enjoy the ride. Yes, it’s impossible to enjoy every single moment, but try to live in the here and now. It is true what they say.. It goes by oh so fast.
*Ranae is a mama, writer, actress and activist. She blogs about same-sex ivf and parenting; advocating for equal rights for all family types. She and her wife Audrey, a stage manager, live in Dublin with their daughters; 2 year old Ava and 4 month old Arya. You can follow her blog at www.ranaevonmeding.com or find her on Instagram and Facebook at @ranaevonmeding
Please consider signing her petition which calls for equal rights to be granted to all same sex families in Ireland. As it stands, only Ranae is considered a legal parent to their girls… her wife Audrey has zero parental rights to them.