Three Months with Benjamin

How did we get here so quickly? The fourth trimester is over already and Ben has already changed so much in just a few short weeks. I am amazed constantly that I *grew* him. He is the best thing I have ever created, for sure. But, he has taken on the project of growing himself with aplomb – his feet are already hitting the end of his 3-6 month sleepsuits and he can’t really nap on my chest anymore without me folding him practically in half. This lanky little boy is surely going to take after his father when it comes to height… 

I have a feeling I’ll say it every month, but this month has been my favourite by far. Benjamin has really found his smile and has started laughing at so many silly things. He’s such a happy little chap, and the way his face lights up when he sees me or Paul for the first time in a while is honestly the greatest joy of my life. 

He’s not what I expected. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t him. I couldn’t have ever dreamt up such a perfect baby. He is so chilled out, content to kick away on his play mat for hours in between naps and happy to be carted around with us wherever he goes. The only thing he doesn’t really like is when the car stops in traffic; much like his father, he’d always rather be on the move. I count my lucky stars every day that Benjamin is my son. (My son!). He has made it so easy to become a mother, and even though there are difficult moments, I know that we have been so lucky in these first few months. Our time will come, no doubt; whether he’s a terrible toddler or a tricky teenager, our time will come when we are tearing our hair out. But I am glad that it has not been right now, when there is already so much change to adjust to. 

Those newborn days already feel so far away; the raw emotion, the sleep deprivation, the absolute shock to the system. Everyone says that it passes so quickly but you can’t see the end when you are in it so completely. At first, I was Googling every tiny thing but already I feel more confident in my instincts and my abilities. Like I said, motherhood has surprised me and I’m not the nurturing earth mama that I would maybe have wanted to be. I am already cultivating an attitude of healthy neglect, as my parents always called it (is it any surprise that I have just morphed into my own mother, really?). But, whilst I often sit with my sleeping baby feeling frustrated that I am not doing something else, I am just as often kissing him all over his face and telling him how much I love him. He is loved, and he never goes hungry, and that is all that matters for him right now. I can already see the end of this stage coming up fast, and it is bittersweet. For now, at three months, Benjamin is my absolute favourite. 

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Two Months with Benjamin

The fact that two months has already gone by amazes me. Both because it’s gone by in a blink of an eye, but also because it feels like he’s always been here. The time before Benjamin is hazy, and I wonder if he was always waiting in the wings. That he doesn’t share our memories of times gone by seems so strange to me. 

He’s amazing. I know I’m biased as his mother, but he is so darn cute. But, more than that, he’s such a sweet little babe. He’s so chilled out and he spend so much time smiling every day. His smiles are so pure and full of joy, and I can’t decide whether I love it more when they’re directed at me or when he smiles at someone else so they can see just how adorable and wonderful he is. I want to capture everything about him, from his almost constant hunger to his little snores, from his fluffy hair to the way he stretches when you pick him up after a nap (he makes a face like a little turtle, and it melts my heart). He’s so inquisitive and loves to look out at the world, whether we’re on a walk or just sat in the house. He also already loves the TV, which probably makes us terrible parents but I think it’s all the lights and movement that catches his eye. He’s also so *long* – he’s already grown out of his 0-3 month onesies purely because his toes have already reached the end. 

It also amazes me how happy I am right now. I was so miserable when I was pregnant, and so many people warn you about how difficult the newborn days are that I was braced for the worst. But we have been so, so lucky with how chilled out and easygoing Ben has been. He is already sleeping longer at night, and he settles easily. Basically, if he’s not hungry then he’s happy! (Same). I feel so much more myself now that I have come out of the other side of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and the difference is incredible. I’m able to do so much more now, even whilst juggling a tiny baby; I’m not quite at my pre-pregnancy levels but I was so tired and unmotivated when pregnant, which just isn’t me. Plus, I have this adorable little munchkin to cuddle all day – and who wouldn’t be happy with that?

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One Month with Benjamin

I think this is the part where I’m supposed to express surprise that Benjamin is one month old today, but in truth it feels as if he’s been with us forever. Whilst I know in my head that the random mish mash of genetic material could have given us any baby, my heart feels as though it was always him, as if he was just waiting in the wings for the right moment to join us. 

We have been blessed with a relatively easy and chilled out baby. He may not always be this way, but he has definitely eased our transition to parenthood for us. I am so proud of how he is adapting to the world; I can see every day how he is learning and progressing and it is so impressive to me. 

The first couple of weeks were overwhelming for sure, and there have been momentary wobbles since but overall I think we’re all doing pretty well, especially when you think that our whole world has changed so suddenly and completely. There are moments where I am frustrated and tired and daunted, but they are swiftly followed by moments where my heart could burst for the cuteness and sweetness of my little babe (for like all new mums, I am convinced that my son is the cutest and sweetest of all). 

In just one month I feel as though I know him inside out; his silly little faces, how he likes to be held, his squawks and gurgles. But at the same time I feel as though he is a stranger to me; there is still so much more to come and I really can’t wait… 

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What I Want to Remember

There’s a lot that I want to forget, but here’s what I want to remember… 

Paul offering the midwife our bath caddy (which she had admired) if she could get him out in her shift… As the first of many midwives to come to our home, she didn’t manage to coax him out so I am luckily still in possession of said caddy! 

Falling asleep between contractions and not being quite sure how many people were in the room at any one time. That nitrous oxide is powerful stuff, man… 

Paul holding my hands through every contraction for hours on end. I couldn’t have done it without him. 

Watching the clock and being convinced he would arrive any second. Noticing that hours had passed…

Using an ambulance and a wheelchair for the first time. Thinking of that bit in About a Boy when we’re blues-and-twos-ing to the hospital. 

Being worried that I wouldn’t love him because of the hell he put me through, until the very moment he was put into my arms.

How weird and purple and cone-shaped his head was when he came out. Being a bit concerned that it might stay that way (thankfully, it didn’t!). 

How weird and soft and still pregnant-looking my stomach was. I’m not sure I’ll be as impressed with that a few weeks on… 

Finally telling people his name after months of secretly whispering it to myself. Still calling him bubba because old habits die hard. 

Paul holding Benjamin next to me and letting me hold his little hand to help me cope with all the other medical stuff that has to happen post-birth (it’s not over once they come out!). 

Knowing that he’ll be as tall as his father if his current length is anything to go by. Realising that the tiny Jeremy Corbyn onesie that Paul’s colleagues bought for us will probably never fit him. 

Feeling a bit like a superwoman for surviving such a long labour without extra pain relief. Wanting to boast about it to everyone. Eventually realising that this really doesn’t make me special, and wanting to go round congratulating every single mother I know. 

Swearing blind that I wouldn’t do it ever again but knowing secretly that I might. 

Tearing up when I rang to tell my Mum… I’d been thinking of how excited she’d be throughout the process (although I was glad I hadn’t texted anyone early on as they’d have been on the edge of their seats for days – too much pressure!).

Choosing the perfect filter to disguise his slightly odd colour when sending round his first photo. 

Realising that I was lying comfortably on my back for the first time in around 6 months… 

Seeing myself in the mirror right afterwards and realising I should probably get some under eye concealer because these bags aren’t going away any time soon. 

Being so grateful to all of the midwives that looked after us so well. Singing their praises ever since. 

Getting my phone back (Paul had left it at home in the rush to get to the hospital) and already having lots of lovely messages to read. 

Staring out into Leeds in the middle of the night with my little Leeds baby in my arms and feeling so grateful (and tired). 

Reading Jilly Cooper to try and stay awake through that first night.

Wishing Paul was there so we could (quietly) giggle at the Darth Vader-style snoring coming from across the ward… 

Paul coming to rescue me and hold Benjamin at 6am after I started hallucinating that Tuna was walking across the end of the bed. She definitely wasn’t! 

Paul popping out for some food and coming back to tell me that he’d seen some of our NCT friends in the corridor. Waiting for the news that their baby had arrived (he was born the next day and weighed exactly the same as Ben!).

Hearing Paul telling Benjamin that ‘I like you, I think we’ll keep you.’ Thinking that was the sweetest thing ever. It might have been the hormones… 

Coming home to some lovely treats left by our friends and immediately bursting into tears. Having the sushi they left me for dinner and sharing a whisky with Paul and his Dad. 

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A Prayer for My Son

May he believe in luck, because it is only when you believe in luck that you can find it. Let him be as lucky as we have been, and so much more. 

Let him find the things in life that fill him with joy and happiness. Help him find a hobby that he can do with his hands, because there is nothing better than making something real. Point him in the direction of imaginary worlds that he can lose himself in, causes that he can truly get behind and that one, slightly weird passion that no one else really understands. 

Give him the strength to stand up for what is right, especially when the people he is standing up to are his friends. Help him find his voice, but know when it is better to listen than to speak. Give him the courage to walk away from fights that don’t matter and towards the fights that do.

Teach him that what maketh the man is not the strength of his body, but the strength of his character. 

Keep him safe when climbing trees too high, driving in cars that are going too fast and walking too close to the edge. Keep him safe. 

May he be the best of us, without the worst of us. 

Help him find his own community, whatever that may look like. Let him know that they will always be welcome here, if they are important to him. Guide him towards love, in whichever form he chooses it. 

May he be the kind of person who never skips out on his round, who always stops to pet a dog, and who would rather share than keep to himself. And if it’s not too much trouble, to always find time to call his mother (or at least feel bad about it when he doesn’t). 

But most importantly of all, give me the strength to point him in the right direction, and then watch as he goes the other way. May I always know when to hold his hand tight, and when to let go and allow him to walk his own path. 

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