- You’ve lost count of how many people have fondled your boobs in the last couple of weeks…
- Do you even own any clothes that aren’t pyjamas? ‘Cos if it doesn’t have a stretchy waistband then it may never see the light of day again.
- Food has never tasted so good to you. Gimme all the cheese and sushi!
- Caffeine is no longer optional in your life. Can you hook it straight into your veins or…?
- You can’t stop yourself from referring to yourself or your partner in the third person. Yep, Mama does need you to stop crying and for Dad to get her some wine…
- You thought you were obsessed with cleanliness before?! Think again… *washes hands and sanitises everything in sight*
- Your phone is out of storage because you’ve snapped so many almost-identical photos of your newborn. They’re just so cute, though!
- You might have strained your eyes from rolling them at people who claim that they’re ‘exhausted’. They don’t know the true meaning of tired!
- It’s now totally normal to discuss bodily functions with almost-strangers.
- Google has become your best friend and worst enemy.
- You swore you wouldn’t be those parents… but at least 50% of your conversations have been about poop in the last couple of weeks.
- You’ve gone from productive girl boss to putting ‘shower’ on your to do list (and not really even being that fussed if you tick it off…)
- You have a lot of opinions about property development because of your slight addiction to Homes Under the Hammer.
- You’re a little convinced that staring at the baby will keep it alive. Constant vigilance!
- Gourmet meals are ones that you get to eat with both hands whilst they’re still warm.
- Have you stumbled into some kind of time warp? Because you could have sworn that only 10 minutes has gone by but it seems to be getting dark again?! What day is it?!?
- You don’t dare leave the house without a suitcase packed to the brim with baby supplies. What if they need their nappy changing 10 times whilst you walk round the block?! *packs more nappies*
- You have strong opinions on nappy brands already. Aldi, FTW!
- You’ve had a moment where you wondered whether you should have just gotten a puppy instead…
- Are you in some kind of musical? Because you’re spending a lot of time singing these days…
- You’re convinced that your baby might be smarter than they let on. How do they know to scream as soon as you are otherwise occupied?!
- You’ve completed at least three new series on Netflix since your little bundle of joy arrived.
- You feel a little bit devastated and a little bit ecstatic when people point out that your baby has grown. You mean they’re not going to be a little squishy newborn forever?!
- You’re a bit smug because you’re convinced that you have the objectively cutest baby on the planet. It’s not because you are biased or anything…
New motherhood is as difficult as everyone says it is. Through all the newborn baby cuddles and tiny little onesies, there’s so much to learn and so little sleep to help your brain learn it… Every midwife and health visitor you see asks about your mood; they are angling to see if you have the signs of post-natal depression, and rightly so, but, as I have said to every one of them: I am overwhelmed, but not disproportionately to a rather overwhelming situation. I have cried over my (in)ability to breastfeed, I have worried about leaving the house and stepping into the outside world, and I have panicked about all of the difficulties to come. But I am okay. We are okay. Survival is key right now, and, inspired by Modern Mrs Darcy, here’s what’s saving my life right now…
Whatsapp at 3am
A lot of what we learnt at our NCT classes has already been thrown out of the window just two weeks in, but there has been one part of them that has been invaluable to me – the other people that we met. Our babies have all been born now, so we are sharing late night wisdom and reassurances between us. Everyone needs a cheerleader every now and again, and having a group of people who are going through exactly the same thing at exactly the same time is very encouraging! Especially when you feel like the only person awake in the middle of the night, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone.
I haven’t taken to breastfeeding with quite the enthusiasm that I thought I would. It is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s emotional, for sure, but it also bloody hurts and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Even if you do everything right, it’s a sensitive part of the body to be putting to work so soreness is inevitable. I’ve been drowning in Lansinoh nipple cream as a way to get through the first couple of weeks and the pain is already lessening. Let’s hope it continues that way…
Kindle iPhone App
In theory, you should spend every precious moment soaking up time with your newborn. In reality, trying to stay awake in the middle of the night whilst a baby sleeps on top of you is a little tricky without distraction. A friend recommended I download the Kindle app to my phone for those late night feeds, so I’ve been keeping myself occupied with a bit of Jilly Cooper when I need something to help me stay alert.
Delightfully, I woke up on the second day after giving birth with a dry skin rash situation all over my chin and neck. Apparently due to hormonal changes (of course) this isn’t uncommon, as my frantic Googling revealed. Through many scary forum threads from people who’d suffered for months, I found the suggestion of aqueous cream to treat the problem and promptly sent Paul out to buy some for me. It’s since mostly cleared up, which could be due to natural changes in hormones or the cream doing its work – but either way, slathering it on helped relieve some of the ‘tight’ feeling of the dry skin and helped me feel a bit more in control!
Yes, I know, I know. There have been some problems with these machines but as far as I’m concerned right now, this thing is a lifesaver. I want to breastfeed as much as possible but I’ve had some real problems so when he just really needs feeding there’s really no other option than a bit of formula. It’s not the end of the world – but the fact that this machine means you can have a bottle in hand in 2 minutes makes all the difference when you feel like it might be.
Waitrose Daily Sushi Counter
Okay, I realise this is the most middle class thing I’ve ever said – but fresh sushi from Waitrose is making life worth living right now. They opened the counter at our local Waitrose the end of my pregnancy (it’s like they knew!) and at least 25% of my meals have come from there in the last two weeks. Salmon nigri is my crack, and I’m not ashamed that it makes me feel a hundred times better when I’m exhausted and hungry.
For the first few nights, Benjamin wouldn’t sleep if he wasn’t being held by one of us, which meant sleeping in shifts and trying not to nod off at god-awful-o-clock in the morning whilst a sleeping baby used us as a giant pillow. We figured out that he was waking himself up by thrashing his arms about, but were a bit wary of swaddling him properly with a blanket or muslin as all the advice suggests this can affect hip development. A bit of frantic Googling brought up the GroSnug – a little baby sleeping bag that swaddles the arms but leaves the hips and legs free, this assuaging some of my fears. The difference was immediate – he sleeps for a few hours at a time in this, which has already been a game changer. All three of us being asleep at the same time is a real luxury!
Last, but certainly not least, I have to include the soppy one. These past two weeks haven’t been easy but they have been infinitely less difficult because of Paul. He has encouraged me endlessly when I am in floods of tears, picked up all the housework and kept me fed & watered when I am stuck underneath a cluster-feeding baby. I’m a bit worried about how we’ll cope now that he’s gone back to work, but luckily he doesn’t have a long commute so we only have to be without him for the shortest amount of time possible!
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.
Life moves in seasons. There are the seasons for hustling, the seasons for hibernating, the seasons for celebration, the seasons for nurturing and everything in between. The key, it seems, is accepting the season that you’re in right now, and letting it fill your life fully. This is not something that comes naturally to me; I am always looking behind and ahead, wishing things on the horizon could be happening right now rather than at some unspecified time in the future. I want to be doing and having it all, even though I know that’s not possible, and lord knows I beat myself up about not achieving the impossible.
The phrase ‘you can have it all, but not all at the same time’ has never been more apt. I may want to be nailing it on Instagram, improving my photography, blogging regularly, bossing it at my job, keeping up with house projects, having fun with friends and family, trying new recipes every week, working on my knitting, reading my whole TBR pile AND growing a human, but that just isn’t feasible, even for someone with as organised a to do list as myself. I can only do a couple of things at a time, and this season *has* to be about growing a human first and foremost (can’t get out of that one now…) and preparing for his arrival. This is a nesting season, if ever there was one; I am napping more than I ever have (even when I was a student with 8 hours of lectures a week…) and my thoughts are preoccupied with nursery themes and pre-baby tasks that need to be completed. Second to that is time spent with Paul, and getting things together at my job so I can leave in 5 weeks time (!) without everything imploding. So you can see why this blog has very much taken a backseat, despite all of my best intentions and ideas.
Now more than ever, I think I need to accept that this is the season that I’m in. I may want to be in a different season, sometimes, when I see people nailing it creatively or gallivanting on exciting trips abroad, but that just isn’t the place that I’m in. I did choose to be here, after all, and it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that you need to take it easy when you’re lugging around a baby all day, every day. It is easy to focus on what you’re missing out on, rather than being fully present for what is happening right now (especially when what’s happening right now is mostly weird joint pains and exhaustion…). But there are joys to this season, even if they are slightly harder to find. Our house has never looked better (even if I do say so myself) and it is a joy to put together a little room for our little man. I realise that babies don’t give much thought to interior design, but it’s nice to actually *do* something for him, in the small way that we can, before he actually arrives. As we get ready to welcome a new member to the team, I feel like Paul and I are working better together than we ever have. Tuna even seems to be being a little bit nicer to me, but that could be wishful thinking…
There will be time enough, if I am lucky, to work on creative projects, start my dream business (bookshop bar? boutique bed and breakfast? something not beginning with B?) or travel the world if I want to. I don’t need to do it all right this minute, as impatient as I am by nature. So some things are being struck off my to do list permanently (or as permanently as they can be…) and others are going on the back burner until I’ve got this baby thing down. The next season, of course, will be a season for mothering – learning how to navigate life with my little pal and trying to find a new normal so that there’s room for the other bits and pieces to start creeping back in. But after that? I guess only time will tell.