I have begun to string full sentences together again as we approach the end of the fourth trimester. But, last week I forgot the word for ‘sausage’ an interesting item to articulate, so we’re not out of the woods yet. And as I’ve taken to documenting his every waking moment with my camera, I thought it was about time I got some of it down in writing too. I want to get as much down before it recedes back into the fog which descends frequently and makes me put cutlery in the fridge, forget words for processed meat and, on more than one occasion, my name.
The last 10 weeks have been, without a doubt, the steepest learning curve of my life and we’re still only in the foot hills. Nothing prepares you for caring for a tiny human. Nine months is about enough time to get used to the fact you need someone to help you put on your tights and that you really (really really) should be doing your pelvic floor exercises. And to get your head around what you need to pack in your hospital bag.
Our son entered the world in late January at 9:53am in the birthing pool as per my birth plan, so immediately I thought I had this mothering thing licked. You just write a plan and follow it. Simples.
We were discharged 12 hours later, our son feeding like a champ, with gold stars from the midwives. Clever Us. Just like that we were sent home to be a family. We spent the first few days awe struck by the impossibly beautiful baby we’ve made. Everything is amazing and shiny and new. Thank you Oxytocin.
Three days later the pain killers were running low, and the fact none of us had slept since Saturday was beginning to show. Blisters from a particularly poor latch meant hourly excruciating pain even when the latch was corrected by week two. Hormones were not my friend and I wept pretty much every day over everything and nothing and what had started in a golden haze of gas and air and adrenalin slowly gave way to relentless reality.
I realised with shattering clarity that this tiny person, while 100% totally reliant on me, was also kicking my ass. But as my team of amazingly supportive friends remind me daily – that was fine, I’m supposed to have my ass kicked. I am reminded constantly that I am not the boss anymore, there is a teeny dictator hollering the shots and resistance is futile. But through the fog of early parenthood there have been a few realisations which are helping even out the odds.
Make Peace with your Crazy
Sleep deprivation makes everything awful. Unbelievably and irrevocably shitty. Combine that with postnatal hormone comedown and you have a heady cocktail of emotional instability ready to be unleashed on your nearest and dearest. On any given Tuesday I am an irrational crazy person, sobbing into my third bowl of Cheerios while watching endless ads for Sun Life Insurance and reruns of Cold Case.
It’s all good. Cheeios have 15% of my iron RDA and I’m now pretty much qualified to be a detective in LA.
I remind my other half of the Crazy after I have sent him hideous passive aggressive text messages about how much sleep he is getting vs me (I have a tally in my head) and when I lose my shit over the vacuuming. I am just crazy. It’s not forever.
The crazy has really come into its own now our boy is responding to us. Stupid faces, horrendous noises, made up songs, ridiculous nonsense conversations. He LOVES all of it. Crazier the better. Currently he loves hearing me say Mushroom Ragu. Over and over. Who knew?
Embrace the Joy
There have been moments of unadulterated, sheer bolt from the blue, joy. The really good stuff that makes your heart expand into unchartered territory. Seeing him smile for the first time, I knew there and then that I would do anything to see that smile, and it never gets old. Listening to my husband make up lullabies for him, watching our friends hold him, and seeing each other in his changing features – it’s wonderful, and terrifying and brilliant.
Our son experiences happiness with every fibre of his being. When his Dad walks into the room his whole body starts jiggling about with glee, when he laughs he curls his toes, and waves his arms about as if to literally wind himself up to take off with the sheer brilliance of being here. The same is true when he’s furious. So there’s that.
I am constantly shocked by his very existence. It astounds me that he’s even here, and grabbing my hair and cooing at the dog. This tiny human that was only a few months ago, tucked away inside me, kicking my ribs and giving me reflux. It makes my head spin. And when I’m sobbing into my Cheerios its these moments that make it easier
Become the Early Bird
Pre baby I was not a morning person. Earliest I’d emerge from under the duvet on the weekends was about 11am, only ever seeing 6am if racing or catching a flight. This has obviously changed dramatically. Babies don’t do lie-ins.
Our little guy is beside himself happy when he wakes up. Even if I have had 45 minutes of sleep in a 36 hour period, seeing him light up when he sees me in the morning is magic. Perhaps the novelty will wear off (and I bet you anything now that I have said it out loud I’m probably tempting the sleep gods) but for now, its brought me a new found pleasure in getting up while the world still feels new.
It also means he’s happy to chat to his toys a little longer than usual while I shower/ order shite off Etsy/ stalk mum-crushes on Instagram
Take Nothing for Granted
What once was easy is now hard and, thankfully, the reverse is now true too
Feeding came easily the first 4 weeks and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Having seen many friends really battle with breast feeding I was very anxious about how we’d get on, so when it seemed to be going ok I started to relax with it. But then out of nowhere, the champion feeder started screaming every time he fed, coughing, spluttering and generally having a terrible time.
A hungry, cross baby is hugely stressful and very, very loud. After many tears and tantrums (both of us) it turns out I have a fast let down reflex (imagine trying to drink from a hosepipe turned on at full strength – thank you Kelly Mom) and there’s not a huge amount you can do to change it, other than both learn to manage it.
We’re figuring it out. And the plus side is he’s finally sleeping for more than 2 hours. So the cutlery has found its way back to the drawer, and I’m remembering my name more often than not.