I remember when I was pregnant, people used to say 'enjoy your sleep, enjoy your date nights, enjoy it just being you two'. We used to laugh it off, we weren't going to change as a couple, were we?
Well, we did.
I became a shadow of myself, I think that happened after we lost our first baby. I went into a spiral of depression, I never thought I would get out of it, but we did. That was because of Kellan. After having him, we were over the moon. Dan was head over heels in love with him, Me? Not so much. I didn't get the instant rush of love that was supposed to hit me when I had him.
I instantly felt guilty because that's all I heard from people. I put it down to my section and shitty labour. I remember being in the hospital for three days, waiting for this love to hit me. It still didn't.
When Kellan and I were finally let home, Dan had done all the housework and washing so I didn't have to worry about it. I was laid up either in bed or on the sofa while Dan, Super Daddy, ran around doing everything. He was doing the cleaning, the feeding, the bathing, the sterilising and the cooking. My parents were amazing, coming round to help where they could. This newborn baby came in like a whirlwind. He really did turn us upside down.
After Dan's two-week paternity leave, my anxiety kicked in.
Dan gave me and our baby a kiss and then left for work. There I was, sitting with this newborn baby thinking, what the hell do I do? I must have fed and changed him a handful of times while Dan was on paternity leave, which now, looking back, was a mistake. I felt that he had done me an injustice because he didn't give me a chance to bond with him, to take my newborn baby in.
I cried, I didn't know what I was doing. I was scared, alone and felt like I had failed already. I remember looking at him thinking, it's just me and you kid, be kind to me. I shrugged the postnatal depression off because I was scared my baby was going to be taken from me, or people were going to judge me. Everyone around me knew I had it, but no one sat down and talked about it. I laughed through the postnatal depression questionnaire, I didn't want to harm my baby, I didn't want to run and leave my baby, I just needed someone to talk to, someone to tell me that we were going to be ok, that I was going to be ok. I realised I had postnatal depression when I first had Kellan when he was about 6 months old. By this point, I had accepted and I had gone through this, and I got out of it, alone.
After about 3 months of being mummy and daddy, me and Dan hit a rocky patch. How people can say that having a baby saves a relationship is lying. If anything, it can easily destroy a relationship. I went to live with my mum for a week, just to get a break from being at home, I just needed some time. We got through it, obviously, we have just hit seven years together and have had another baby and are getting married.
When we were getting into our routine, me, mum and Dan were talking. I remember when he said to my mum, "I just want my old Ashleigh back," my mum's word hit us, she said "that Ashleigh has gone, when you met her, she was not a mum. When you become a mum, without realising you change as a person."
She was right, she hit the nail on the head. I look back at old photos and think, look how carefree I was, we had no worries or problems, we slept, we bought what we wanted, ate when we wanted too, never had a schedule, we were selfish, it was just us.
My priority is now to make sure my children are happy and loved, Dan is happy and loved, and I come last. Because as a mum, you put yourself last. I'm not the carefree girl I once was, she does make an appearance every now and again, but then Mum kicks in and carefree me goes into hibernation for a little while.
I'm happy with my life, I couldn't wish for anything more, but if I could go back, I would cherish the old me. Just a little bit.
Did you ever feel like this? I'd love you to share your thoughts.