What an interesting ride! I remember being a week into motherhood, still in the hospital and just staring like a crazed stalker at my teeny tiny 6.5lb baby and not being able to see as far as the next hour, never mind the next day. Trying to envisage myself writing a blog with a 6 month old baby? Well, no. I couldn’t have imagined that there would be any window of time to do anything else. Not when my eyes were constantly watching his chest to see that it was falling and rising as it should (that hasn’t really changed).
I was out and about straight away, with friends, with family. But, when it came to going it alone, aargh, so scary! I didn’t expect what a momentous event going out alone for the first time is. I know I’ve come a long way now as I actually wait for B to wake up to go out, so we can chatter and share the experience. Whereas 5 months ago, I’d wait until he was asleep and try to bundle him out of the door, hoping and praying he would stay sleeping sweetly and avoid a public meltdown.
There have been things that I (rightly) expected:
- Sleepless nights
- Lots of poo – discussions, surveillance, damage control
- A shift in priorities – less time for the gym, social, travels
- A baby
There have been things I never expected:
- Having a reflux baby* and all the heartache and misplaced guilt that that has come with
- The reconnection with lots of old friends and with family
- The fierce protection reflex that kicks in. Especially when strangers touch your new baby
- A fear of doctors surgeries (see above)
- How I can be happy to just sit and watch him sleep, cuddled up in my arms without wanting to do anything else
- Being ‘cured’ of insomnia – the need for sleep has proved too strong against the whirring insomniac mind
- The crisis of identity that comes when you realize you’re a mum. And you’re you. And figuring out how to be you and be a mum. Then realizing you just have to go with it and voilà, there you are!
- Feeling frustratingly shackled by my breastfeeding/expressing ‘mummyform’ because my normal clothes either weren’t appropriate or didn’t fit
- Feeling a sense of guilt for loving what my body has done but not loving how it looks. Then realising that just because I look down and don’t love my extra padding doesn’t mean I don’t love looking down and seeing my baby and remembering why the padding is here. And whilst I’m not going to pretend that I’m not looking forward to shaking off those last pounds, I’ve surprised myself at how I’ve not obsessed about it and have been happy with a more sensible approach and mindset
- That I wouldn’t just have a baby but I would have an absolutely fascinating little person with so much will and character.
Things they don’t tell you are that way for a reason and the things they do are because those are the things that matter the most and get you through everyday. Nothing, but nothing beats a gummy smile to make everything OK. Even if you haven’t slept, or you’ve been holding your bladder for hours because you don’t want to disturb the baby sleeping on your chest, or haven’t eaten or drunk that ( now cold) tea you made 3 hours ago, and forgot.
I’m definitely braver. I think I was brave in some ways before, but I am braver in different ways and I enjoy celebrating my daily victories and those firsts – breastfeeding, breastfeeding in public, going out on my own, going on public transport with a baby (shudder), going swimming, making B laugh.
And now? I’ve found my maternal groove. I never became one of those mummies who whips her boobs out confidently in public for each feed, I always felt a bit awkward, but did it anyway. But, I have now earned my silver 6 months breastfeeding boobies and have solely expressed for 4 months now ( to administer B’s reflux treatment, but continue breastfeeding).
We are still under pediatric care for reflux but it’s getting better. B doesn’t sleep on his own and I can’t imagine that time yet. But, he sleeps through the night (at the time of writing. This is subject to change at the whim of The Management, aka B) and we have somewhat of a routine. When he naps I express milk and multitask writing, emailing, online shopping, Facestalking etc. Sometimes, I even sleep, too! When he’s awake, we go to groups, we walk daily, we play and I try to come up with inventive ways to entertain him. Even though a remote control or even a bit of paper can provide endless amounts of baby fascination.
He thinks my dancing is an act of comedy. I think: “I used to be [somewhat] cool”.
B is rolling, crawling, he’s a little explorer. He’s enjoying solids and that brings its own set of daily challenges and victories. I love the person B is becoming and considering he doesn’t speak, he really does make me laugh.
I ask friends and family for advice, but I feel confident in making decisions based on what I feel is best – don’t knock that maternal instinct – I have been right every time so far. If you are reading this as a new mum or mum-to-be, don’t care what others think, if something doesn’t feel right, get it investigated. Go with your gut, because mummy knows best.
Most of all, I have realized, I am the happiest I have ever been and I can still be me and be a good mum, it just takes a bit of rejigging and a few changes.
Which can only be a good thing. Because, with all the sleepless nights, a change is as good as a rest.