Amy Gerard: ‘This Is How My First Year of Motherhood Changed Me… for the Better’

They say motherhood changes you. Is it for the better or for the worse? I can only speak on my own personal experience of the ride and I’d say it’s been for the better.

The chapter before becoming a mum was fun. Filled with endless summers, travelling all around the globe without a care in the world, riddled with insecurities and dating men who weren’t right for me. The pages were filled with lessons, some hard, some easy but always fun and teaching me a thing or two about myself.

But everything changed when I became a mum. It was the first time in my life that I didn’t put myself first. That I put my wants behind the needs of someone else’s. It was the first time that made me realise that I really had lived such a carefree, almost selfish life.

Amy Gerard
Image: Instagram @amy.gerard

Doing what I wanted and when at any given time. Doing things recklessly without thinking of consequences. Believing I was truly invincible. Blows my mind the sh*t I used to do without a care in the world.

One minute you are texting on your Nokia 5110 about what outfit to wear, how long you should leave your tan on and whether or not you’ve waited enough minutes to reply to your current fling…. and the next you are pregnant, about to give birth.

We become mothers in our minds even before our contours change. Pregnancy is all about the future. About preparing for the monumental challenges ahead and then you blink and you are responsible for a tiny little human that can’t communicate with you through speech. You have to suddenly know “baby” and try to interpret what each little individual cry means.

It changes you instantly. Like a slap to the face with a 14kg barramundi that’s been pulled out of the ocean. It wakes you the f*ck right up and for the first 6 weeks, you won’t even remember to wash your hair, eat or prioritise your own needs.

Image: Instagram @amy.gerard

Sleep deprivation, feeding, nappies will form the long formless days. Your anxiety takes over, the fear of putting your foot wrong or somehow not looking after your newborn right can sometimes consume you. The feelings of panic, ambivalence, uncertainty can take lots of getting used to. Sometimes it will lead you down a dark path of worry and self-doubt. Do not be alarmed. This is all normal in the first part of your new chapter. You have just been rebirth’d yourself so lean into the emotions and don’t bottle anything up.

Your first solo outing with your newborn will be more terrifying than the night before you lost your virginity. Fear of the unknown, how painful is it going to be. But once you’re out you realise it’s not actually that bad, you had worked it up to be way worse in your head and you could absolutely get used to it!

In fact, after a few go’s, you start to really enjoy getting out and about (weird comparative but it fits the narrative right!). It’s a bizarre feeling, going from feeling indestructible riding a scooter at nighttime in your bikini on the other side of the world in Greece to being afraid of driving your newborn to a park to take him/her for a walk in a soft-padded pram. The first of many hats has been placed on your head: protector.

Image: Instagram @amy.gerard

Over the course of the next year, you’ll slowly find your groove. You’ll start feeling less like a sleep-deprived lunatic and more like a mum. You’ll find other mums who you really gel with. Who have similar parenting styles to you. Who can tap into a patience that you can sometimes only dream about. You’ll find the competitive mums and if you are smart, you’ll give them a wide birth. You’ll find the joyful, warm, text you back at ungodly hours mums who make you feel seen and less alone just by being there for you. Who cry with you and laugh.

These are your people and more often than not, will become your friends for life. Old friendships will run their course and you’ll start to truly work out those who matter most and those who you can live without. Always remember, friendship is a two-way street.

And then there is you. Your body will change. You’ll no longer fit into your pre-birth pencil skirts or have any desire to walk in 11-inch heels. Your skin will be looser and with battle scars where you’ve grown your child and yet, you’ll have an air of confidence about you.

You are a MOTHER. You’ll know your worth.

After the first year, you’ll have a sex appeal about you that comes when a woman is in full bloom. When you don’t need validation from any man or anyone for that matter. You will feel at ease with who you are because you have a little child who has shown you what the meaning of unconditional love is all about.

Amy Gerard
Image: Instagram @amy.gerard

Sometimes the smallest people in our life can have the biggest impact and your firstborn will show you all of the things that you might struggle to see.

That you are soft and warm and firm in all the right spots. That you give wonderful forehead kisses and make all the ouchies go away. That you have nourished your baby and kept him/her safe and shown them nothing but love. That you are perfect and enough, just exactly as you are. All of these things make you beautiful & you’ll feel it.

Motherhood is a rollercoaster ride of all emotions. Not just with your children but with yourself, within. The only constant is change. So strap yourself in and take each day as it comes. It won’t be the easiest ride you’ve ever jumped on but I can ensure you it will be the most fulfilling.

Today, mothers are met with more challenges than ever before. From the working mum to the single mums, the stay-at-home mums and all of the mums in between, modern mothers these days are nothing short of heroines.

Want more pieces from Amy Gerard? Read her previous columns below: