Writing a book with a new baby was not easy. In fact, the majority of the book I managed to publish in my daughter’s first year ( Mango Unleashed: A Thai Rescue Dog Travels the World, available as an e-book on Smashwords and Amazon for $3.99 U.S.) was finished before she was born.
I gave myself full permission not to write or work on it at all during her first three months of life. Although I would be lying if I said that before she was born I did not have images of polishing and finishing drafts and starting new work during that time when she would be napping. At least 2 – 3 hour stretches a day! I had no idea that being a new mom would leave me so flabbergasted and awestruck that when she slept I would spend the entire time either staring at her or googling random things that she did to make sure that both she and myself were normal! So there was not a lot of writing at first to say the least.
Finally as I began to feel more confident in my role as a mom I put the finishing touches on the book and released it. And I did so without any fanfare or attempt to let people know it was out. I had more important things to do. My baby stopped napping after 3 months. At least not for longer than 20 minutes at a stretch. Those 20 minutes were my time to check my email, shower and eat. (Only slightly exaggerated).
Part of me really beat myself up over the fact that I was not writing. It took me so long to start writing and getting work out every couple of months. This was a giant monkey wrench and I felt I was letting go of everything I had worked so hard to achieve.
And then I sat down, gave myself an emotional shake and reminded myself that maternity leave exists for a reason. This is a time that no one, even yourself, can expect you to devote time to anything else. Especially at first. You need to adjust to being a new mom. You have a person wholly dependent on you. If you have family who can help out great. But the German and I live in a different country from both our families. We were doing this alone. Sleep triumphed over writing. And yet that made me angry. Which did at least highlight to me that writing was not just a hobby for me. It was how I had started to define myself. It was how I wanted to make a living.
Now that my baby is almost a year old writing has begun to take up a regular place in my life again. It is only really in the last month that I have begun to get my writing time in. She is able to play a little more independently and visiting my mother means I do not mind stepping away and giving myself an hour or two a day to write.
New moms: be gentle on yourself. Your baby will never be this tiny again. Enjoy it, love it, and carry around something that you can record your ideas on when they come. That way around the one year mark when you can start writing again you can start fleshing out all those ideas you were so busy jotting down and thinking about even if you did not have the time to flat out develop and write.