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Kirsten, 31 years old

“Lizzy is always my number one priority. Still, it's nice to be my own priority every now and then, to recharge my batteries and to feel that I matter too. By occasionally letting Lizzy stay over at her grandparents for the night, we experience how easy-going she’s becoming with this. She genuinely enjoys it and actually bonds with her grandparents. That’s good for her, for me, for my partner and for us as a family.”


Is my life over?

“I used to think to myself: if I ever have a child, my life is over. But I saw friends with children who still had a life of their own. That's how I wanted it too. My boyfriend wanted a child badly and I was approaching my thirties. Under that pressure I stepped into this carelessly- I thought too easily about everything. Sleepless nights? Well, I had partied all night long so many times. But the 24/7 commitment to Lizzy startled me. During the delivery I thought to myself: soon it will all be over, all the peace I have had until now. I have mourned the old me. I still felt like Kirsten but couldn't join my friends like I used to. Because everyone assumed I didn't want to join them anymore. From the moment I became a mother, they thought I would only have time for my daughter. While, especially as a new mother, I needed to do the things the old me used to do.”


Sense of guilt

“It seemed like the mothers around me had hidden from me how hard it would really be. Or maybe I dismissed the concerns they mentioned before. But when Lizzy arrived, I suddenly had to feed her every three hours and every little noise she made woke me up from my sleep. We let her sleep in her own room. But when I shared that with other mothers, they thought this was going to have a bad influence on her attachment development. While I was thinking Lizzy would benefit more from a mother that was well rested, others, while having good intentions, left me with a sense of guilt.”


Motherhood and individuality can match

“What I learned is that you definitely have to adapt your life to the needs of your child, but you can also still prioritize your own needs and choose to have your own life. I had a rich social life, and I enjoyed my job. My boyfriend and I took adventurous trips together. For me, that  changed completely when I became a mother. Others may enjoy staying home and being a couch potato, but as a mother I still wanted my old self back. You must find your own path in motherhood. You don't have to give up on your dreams. Motherhood, a job, going out and adventurous traveling? It is possible to combine it all.”


Accept help and discuss it openly with each other

“Motherhood is exhausting and you can feel very alone in it. You constantly feel as if you’re out of balance. What helps is to accept support from others. Since we ourselves have experienced how exhausting it can be to be a parent, we have, for example, offered friends to look after their child for a night, so that they could catch their breath. A small gesture can have a big meaning for someone else and it prevents parents from becoming exhausted. In addition, it can also help to make good agreements with your partner. When Lizzy was still a baby for example, one of us would sleep close to Lizzy’s room for a period of time. This way the other could sleep peacefully in another room; sometimes we still do this. At first I was against this because I was afraid of losing intimacy. But my boyfriend was right, we needed to get a proper amount of sleep to sustain ourselves and function. Open conversations with friends who have been through the same things can also help. My preconception that others downplay the difficult sides of motherhood has disappeared.”


“I would like to say to other women: don't underestimate motherhood. Motherhood is the most beautiful- and at the same time the most difficult thing there is. Ask for help and don't fool yourself: you don’t have to do everything perfectly.”

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