Writing a book was never a dream of mine. Writing a book was something that other people did; clever people, creative people. I never considered myself to be one of them. I have sisters, aunts and a husband who are wonderful writers. I’m a talker, a listener, an avid people-studier. So how did someone like me come to even want to write a book?
The transition to motherhood hit me like a truck. Up to that point in my life, I had never been faced with as many challenges all at once. I had never before been so exhausted. I was shocked at how little I really knew about motherhood. I quickly realised that many of my fellow new mothers felt the same. Once I emerged from the fog of the first few months, there was a fire in my belly. I wanted to help other new mothers to get through those early months. I remember meeting a woman on the train who had a ten-day-old baby. She had tears in her eyes as she described how tired she was. I wanted to bring her home to my house and put her to bed so she could just get some much-needed sleep. Maybe helping other women was my way of coming to terms with my own experience. Thus, Becoming Mum was born.
The day I received an email from my publisher expressing an interest in my book was the same day I received an interesting call from work. I worked for a charity and they were offering voluntary redundancy. After six years with them I was ready to leave and try something new. I couldn’t resist. The redundancy payment financed a few months of research and writing.
The interviews with the forty women and five men did take quite a lot of time. I could have kept going and interviewed more but I found I had so much material to work with that I didn’t need to. People have a lot to say when they go through a life-changing experience. Despite being heavily pregnant with my second child, I always felt energised after each interview. It’s amazing how honest people will be when talking about becoming a mother. I felt honoured to be a witness to their stories. Interviews were slotted in after my daughter’s bedtime, while she was at school or at weekends when my husband was at home. Even now, writing this article, the only time I have free is between 6am and 7am on a Sunday morning, when the whole house is asleep and I am awake. It certainly makes you focus when time is so precious.
Becoming Mum is a very honest book. I love getting down to the nitty-gritty and talking about what’s really in someone’s head and heart. My mum is a psychotherapist. Maybe that nurtured my interest in people’s thoughts and feelings. I enjoy talking about things people don’t talk about. I get a kick out of exploring taboo subjects. I watch people walk around this world with their guards up and their public faces on and am always intrigued about what goes on underneath it all. People amaze me.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching some of the women I interviewed read back their contributions in the book. One of them told me that I had really listened to her and I really ‘got’ what she was saying – it made her smile. I know that she felt heard and that her story was important. That wasn’t the point of the book, but it’s a lovely added extra. Many of the interviews ended up as mini-therapy sessions, for both me and the interviewees. Some women had never discussed the difficult labours they had and the shock they just had to bury as they got on with motherhood. There were stories of post-traumatic shock, postnatal depression, elation, anxiety and joy. The question that most affected the women I interviewed was, ‘If you could go back in time and sit down beside your younger, new-mother self and give her some advice, what would it be?’ Many women got teary and I often had a lump in my throat as they generally said something like, ‘I’d tell myself to stop being so hard on myself, I’m doing great, I’m a good mum.’
I really hope this book can help even one new mum to know that she’s not alone in finding the transition to motherhood challenging. If it does, I’ll be happy.
(c) Kate Carbery
Becoming Mum is available in all good bookshops and online here from Liberties Press
Becoming a mother is an intense, life-changing experience. No matter how many conversations you have with friends who have had children, nothing can prepare you for the changes ahead. Every woman is different, every birth is different, every baby is different.
Becoming Mum strives to support the reader in a society where we don’t always talk honestly about childbirth and the tough challenges of the months that follow. It is a reassuring voice to remind you that you’re doing OK, that you’re not losing your mind.
Whether you are preparing for childbirth or in the midst of the often demanding early months, this book acts as a valuable aid that allows you the opportunity to learn from other mothers’ experiences and to benefit from their hindsight.
Kate Carbery is a proud mother of two small children. An honours graduate of University College Cork, (European Studies, French and German), she worked in Human Resources and Communications before setting up a medical company in Dublin with her husband.Kate has travelled extensively and studied and worked overseas.She has a natural ability to connect with people and help them to tell their stories. This is her first book.