Before I had children, life was pretty exciting. In my mid to late twenties, I found a job that gave me immense satisfaction. I managed a small business, sending individuals off around the world on important research projects in the areas of wildlife conservation and community development.
My work opened up my eyes to the wider world and I got to experience what it was like to live in very remote areas of our beautiful planet.
When I became pregnant 9 years ago, I couldn’t have been happier. Who wouldn’t after 3 years of nothing and the failed infertility treatments that followed thereafter? I had visions of what life would be like with a baby. I thought I'd be able do it all; manage a small business, employees, and jet off to far away places with a baby on board.
As soon as my son arrived, the life that I knew turned upside down. The juggle of motherhood and the demands of my job proved too much. Even in hospital, recovering from an emergency c-section, I still worked; typing up work documents and organising the office remotely.
Very quickly, I realised a small baby couldn’t possibly work in with my career. I struggled a lot and 6 weeks in, was diagnosed with postnatal depression, one of the lowest points in my life. At the time, my own Mother visiting from the UK, left to go home. My husband went back to work after paternal leave and I felt absolutely terrified about how I’d cope on day-to-day, alone, with a baby...my baby.
I made a very quick decision to hand my employer my notice. Something I thought I would never do. I felt relieved when I did, but also a great sadness of the career I would leave behind.
The job I quit wasn’t just a job, it was my everything…before kids. I had a fulfilling career in a job I thought I’d be in for the rest of my working life. As much as I knew I had to leave my job, I felt so lost after I did and thought I’d lost my purpose in life. Was being a Mum all there was for me? Was it enough? I hadn’t quite planned for that.
In the months that followed, I wasn’t in a good place at all. I hadn’t really bonded with my son and I felt detached and so incredibly lonely. My son wasn’t a good sleeper and he was diagnosed with silent reflux. Not a good time.
I started seeing a counsellor and was medicated for depression, which helped immensely. However, I constantly wondered what was I going to do to get out of the rut.
My husband said to me “you need to get a hobby” and I laughed in his face. A hobby? When would I have time for a hobby, in between the daily chores of motherhood?
I did find a hobby; I started to write while my baby napped during the day, and after he went to bed in the evenings. It all started with a blog. I found a creative outlet and a new focus, something to tear me away from my daily battles with anxiety and depression. My blog gained momentum and recognition. I made new friends through my writing jaunts and taught myself to sew to compliment my blog topic. Over time, I got paid to share my words, so I made writing my job and that made me happy. I soon found my purpose again, new doors opened and to my surprise, I found a brand new career.
Five years in my husband and I welcomed another son into the family. I had another set back, when postnatal depression and terrible anxiety reared their ugly heads again. Only this time, I didn’t hesitate to seek help and knew the signs to look out for. It still wasn’t a particularly easy time, but perhaps easier to get out of with a second round of counselling and medication.
Almost a decade on and I’m still writing, not just a blog, but for agencies, websites, and publications too. This year I’m celebrating a big triumph, as I’ve just had three articles published in a printed publication; something I’d never have thought possible for someone with a background in business, but not journalism.
My story isn’t uncommon. I know many other mothers who can’t go back to the life they had before children and who struggle to accept that.
I know now, that letting go is the hardest part. Accepting and adjusting to a new life with a baby is challenging and probably the biggest life change of all. I also know that sometimes it can take a long time to get that special attachment with your baby; many months in my case, but it does happen.
I’ve been lucky enough to find a new passion and one that I can work around being a Mum to my two gorgeous boys. What I do, won’t suit every Mother, but I hope my story gives others who might be struggling to accept the changes that motherhood brings, some inspiration to find yourself again, after children.
Erica says: If I’m writing, tap dancing, watching a live theatre show of any sort, travelling with my family, or experiencing any sort of wildlife counter, I’m a happy lady!
Motherhood in 5 words: Life changing, but worth it.
Fav family-friendly place: NGV
Coffee order: No thanks, I’ll take a Chai Latte, please!
Biz: KidTown Melbourne
Chief Editor of KidTown Melbourne sharing all the great things to do in Melbourne and beyond. Moto: “collect memories, not things”
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