On the identity of a new mother

I remember that during my pregnancy many friends (most of them!) told me beautiful stories about the romantic side of the parenthood: bonding, the first smile of your baby, the first step, ...

Some friends did say something like "Your life will never be the same again" though. But I didn't really pay attention to this. I thought: "Well, it will be 3 of us instead of 2". It was quite abstract, I have to say.

Then our baby came. We were living in Beijing but for several reasons I chose to give birth in Vienna. My husband came for the birth and stayed for one month but then he had to return to his work in Beijing. So I was alone with the baby. My baby woke up every hour at the time. I struggled so much trying to feed her and sometimes spent over 20 hours trying to breastfeed her.

I clearly remember one night sitting in the dark, crying while my baby was crying. 

I had no time for me. No time to eat, to sleep, to think, to feel my body, my mind, my soul. I was only emotions going up an down. I felt like a boat in a storm, thrown against the rocks and left empty.

"Is this motherhood? This is not what I imagined it will be. Who am I? My body doesn't belong to me anymore. It's only a ressource for my baby"

Before I becoming a mother, I was an independent woman, travelling the world, taking on chalenges, dealing with uncertainty, relocation, expatriation, transition. None of those challenges compared with being a mother and moreover during expatriation. Motherhood  made me dive into myself, made me face my deepest fears. The fear of loosing my identity.

When my baby was 2 months old, I went back to China. Due to the high levels of pollution I needed to leave Beijing quite often and to live between Austria and China. I traveled to other countries as well: Corea, Thailand, Australia. I had the support of my husband but sometimes I had to travel alone and I didn't have my family to help me. I had no childcare or nanny. I was with my baby 24/24, 7/7. No break.

In time, with the help of other mothers who opened up and told me their story I realized I was not the only one who experienced this crisis of identity. This was such a relief.

And finally, one day I started to feel that "I was back" . Not the same woman but different and reacher because I managed to combine my old self with the new one.

It was probably one of the hardest time in my life but I have learned to:

1/ connect with other mothers who spoke the truth about their own story and gave me the real picture (not the polished one). 

2/ take up again some things I loved doing (like my yoga practice)

3/ communicate better within my partner and ask specifically for what I needed in order to have more time for me

4/reflect on what was going through (by journalling, writing, ...)

5/ work on my vision as a mother

6/ accept mistakes. I was so focused on doing the best I could for my baby that I had completely forgotten about my own needs. By accepting things not being "perfect", I did a bit less for my baby and more for me which, to my great surprise, didn't make her unhappy and made me much happier and healthier.

"Personality is a process. The human being
is constantly remaking himself or herself. 
Left to itself, the mind goes on repeating the
same old habitual patterns of personality. 
By training the mind, however, 
anyone can learn to step in and change
old ways of thinking . ."
 Eknath Easwaren