In the darkness,
you are part of me and I of you.
This is a different, but familiar love,
it’s like looking at myself as a child.
Like my heart is beating outside of me,
as you, so small, lie upon my chest.
Time means nothing,
except now watching you grow.
So many things I had thought were important –
has now compounded into you.
The responsibility I feel to keep you safe
is both overwhelming, but enlightening.
My beautiful little girl,
it’s like I was missing something that I never even knew.
You are everything that is good, wrapped up in perfection,
and then some.
Bob Dylan of course wasn’t singing about the trials and tribulations of parenthood, but I thought his song title seemed fitting for this blog, as the times they are definitely a changing. My ‘previous’ life had been a non stop juggle of social and work commitments, fancy dinners, partying hard, travels interstate and overseas, family gatherings, times with my partner, appointments and exercise and somewhere in there…. some time for me. I have always lived with the mantra that you should live life to the fullest. I always knew that if I was to become a parent that would of course change, but I guess didn’t quite grasp just how much time is affected when a baby comes into the picture. For instance, I started this blog about 5 weeks ago (generally I write & post one that day).
Time goes so slowly, yet so fast when you have a new baby. You can spend hours just staring into each other’s eyes, pulling funny faces, watching them sleep. Or your days can certainly be filled with washing baby clothes, cleaning the house and attending various baby appointments. For so long, I had been able to leave the house with just a handbag full of things in a few minutes. Now it takes me at least ten mins to get myself organised before I can leave. I now have to remember that if I don’t pack a dummy and my baby loses it, I am kicking myself. Or if I forget a change of clothing for her, would our car seat be potentially graced with lots of poo.
Even though we are still incredibly busy, our way of life has certainly changed. It is now about living day to day. Things change with a newborn and you have learn to be ok to change your plans, cancel and stay at home or take a lot longer to do things. You have to learn to be ok with things being just ok. I don’t think there are any awards given out to the parents with the cleanest house, or how much they achieved in a day with a baby. I’m actually finding this change really refreshing, as I have to be completely present. You forget about all that crazy stuff like stresses at work when your baby smiles at you, you aren’t thinking about how you need to rush off to somewhere as it’s about connecting with this beautiful, little being in that amazing moment. When they look so intensely at you, nothing matters and time is not important. Time is just a thing.
It is also funny how time changes everything. If I had put this blog out 5 weeks ago, I was in a haze of positivity as my beautiful little Bonnie and Lewy and I were on cloud nine and that everything was peachy. Sure there were plenty of moments of ‘are we doing the right thing,’ or ‘why is she crying, let’s work through this list (dirty nappy, hungry, tired, over stimulated etc),’ but then we figured it out and we trusted our instincts. She is of course is the best thing we have ever done and I can’t believe just how much I love her, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been really hard at times. Though we have had much more smiles than frowns, and at the moment she is pretty good sleeper- but two weeks ago, we had our first bad week.
We worked through the list; we just couldn’t work out why she was so upset. I was full of tears, and self doubt and my confidence dwindled-reading baby books and looking up the old Dr Google didn’t help the situation either. Having just seen a lactation consultant, we think it was a growth spurt along with my supply not matching her hunger (gosh that makes you feel good when you can’t feed your baby properly). But moving along another week, and feeding her more- she has been awesome again. I’ve gotten out of the house a lot more, walked till my feet felt like they were going to fall off, so I could clear my head. There will most definitely be more of these days to come, but I need to remember it’s all about perspective.
A friend told me this about newborns…..every day you’ll have a bad hour, every week you’ll have a bad day, and every month you’ll have a bad week. So hey, to all those parents out there feeling a little unsure, just remember this and give yourself a break. I know I’m still learning to do that and it does make you feel better when you can be stuck in a cloud of doubt. Learning to trust your instincts is also key.
So in the last 10 weeks of being a mum, here are 10 things I thought I knew about being a parent -but until I became one, did I realise I was wrong…..
1. Babies poo a lot
WE SAID: OH HOW CUTE, SHE JUST SMILED AT ME
SHE SAID: …….*the loudest pooing sound*
We have been lucky to be graced with an expert projectile pooer. This girl has skill, nearly being able to hit something a metre away including both of us. There have been several occasions where Lewy or I have had to strip down to our underwear as we’ve been hit by her missile. We have now learnt to wait till she is most definitely finished before taking away her nappy. I don’t want to think about how many nappies and wipes have we used so far.
2. You do become one of those parents…..
I always said that if I were to become a parent then I wouldn’t spend my days talking about poo, vomit, feeding and how much we love our baby. But the reality is, that part of your baby’s life tends to consume your days, so there isn’t a huge amount else to talk about (at least in the early days). But on the other side, I’m not going to apologise for it either, as I love my baby to bits and want to talk about her non-stop. For other parents, they are often the same-which is probably the battle when you catch up with your childless friends-not boring them to death. I do have this voice in my head when catching up with people saying ‘I think you’re talking about Bonnie a little much’ but then I can’t stop. On the other side, it is nice to get out and do non baby related things from time to time for your sanity.
3. If you breastfeed you are insanely hungry, thirsty, stuck in a time warp…and it can be freakin hard work
I have been eating like a horse. I mean I already did, but this is insane. I also seem to be guzzling down litres of water, which is not a bad thing. Don’t get me started on the initial set up you want when at home so you don’t go mad-toilet stop check, washed hands check, phone, water bottle, snack, pillow, spew rag, lanolin…check. In the first few weeks when it took much longer to feed her, I sped my way through a few TV series in the middle of the night, but thankfully now they are much shorter and I can do without. But sitting in the near dark can be very tiring-I can see why so many mums are on facebook in the wee hours. There is something to be said though about that time of the night, when it is just us, her tiny hands feeling their way around as she gulps down her milk.
As beautiful as breastfeeding can be, it can certainly come with challenges which has been a big reason I had such a bad week and still continue to have my days. I wish I found it a lot easier, but it’s hard when your supply is low. I had the most amazing lactation consultant come to visit and we are on a plan. I’m on vitamins and herbs, sipping whole cumin seeds, drinking beer and eating lactation cookies (ok a beer and cookie diet doesn’t sound that bad). For the next few weeks I also have to try express after every feed, which is damn tiring and often emotionally exhausting..not to mention feeling like a cow. So let’s see how this all goes as seriously if my boobs aren’t exploding with milk soon at least I know I tried everything. I don’t think it will be until Bonnie is a mother herself (if that’s what she wants) that she will truly understand what parents go through for their baby, I most certainly didn’t. So thank you to my own beautiful parents for a lifetime of putting me first. There is a long list of things that can go wrong, bad latching, cracked nipples, thrush, vasospasm, mastitis -it is hard for a lot of women. So I can definitely see why women choose formula.
4. You need to become a master of coordination
Being able to do two things at once is a skill most women have, but being able to do that while holding a baby is a whole other skill set. I can see why baby Bjorns and ergo babies, baby swings, baby gyms all have such a roaring trade.
5. Washing clothes, baby bottles and your hands is really annoying and time wasting
My hands are feeling so dry that I swear I will have sand paper hands by the time Bonnie hits kindergarten. Seeing babies don’t like bacteria just yet, you are constantly washing your hands, their clothes and if using a bottle (which when I’m expressing after every feed, I certainly am) you are also washing these things. Driving mad, mad I tell you. If your baby is on formula, you have to be even more careful keeping this sterilised. ahhhh
6. How difficult it is to the leave the house without a shit load of stuff
I touched on this above, but my god babies need a lot of stuff when going out. Nappies, change mat, wipes, bags, toys, bottle, spare clothes, spew rat…the list goes on. I never appreciated having a neat, little clutch with a hand full on things when going out –but now I certainly do. I’m going away with her in a few weeks, so the list will be pages long I’m sure.
7. You need to be ok with everything not being ok
Some babies don’t sleep, others have colic, or breastfeeding is hard…there are so many things, but learn to be ok with getting help-as people want to help. Talk about your issues, see a specialist, go for a walk to clear your head, change your perspective. It all helps and is so important.
Also….the problem about being stuck at home when you are feeding is that you notice all the jobs that need doing. Dust everywhere, dirty clothes, the endless dishes….how do I get this done and try to also sleep when the baby sleeps. Listen, we all just need to get a grip and let the mound pile up occasionally so we can put our feet up, have a cup of tea….maybe write a blog.
8. You need to learn to function on broken sleep
I have always really liked my sleep but wasn’t always the best at it. But now, I generally hit the pillow and wake up in a puddle of drool on my pillow. Hot I know, but something about short spurts of sleep does that to me. I’ve also had these weird dreams that I’ve gone to sleep holding her, waking up in a panic that I have suffocated her only to find it is my own arm that I’ve some how managed to put to sleep. Sleep deprivation is something that I am just learning to deal with and trying now to prioritise resting so I don’t go mad.
9. Your body is not the same for a while
Aches and pains, jelly tummy and legs, sagging boobs. Painting an awesome picture? Look I know some women bounce back straight away and I’ve been pretty lucky, but it will certainly take some time if ever to get back to how I was…that’s totally ok too. I know my boobs will never be the same again (I’m just waiting for what other mothers have referred to as the footy socks with sand bag boobs). My neck and back are feeling officially f’d from constantly looking down while breastfeeding. I know I shouldn’t look down so much but I can’t help gazing at the little babushka. Massage on Monday here I come!!
10. A baby’s love changes everything
The crippling worry, the responsibility, the way they melt you hearty when they nuzzle into your chest, how you forget any worry you had when they smile, that even though you are covered in their poo and vomit you don’t care because they are so cute-this all comes with being a parent. There are going to be times when you are much more short with your partner because you are so tired, there are going to be times when you are so tired that all you can do is cry, there are going to be times when their crying makes you feel mad…but all of that doesn’t matter as you love your baby and that day when they can say it back to you will the best thing ever. But I don’t need words just now as when she looks at me or at Lewy –we know. Watching your partner gaze at them lovingly, when they look around for you, when they coo and giggle-that makes it all worth it.
Because you are with someone that is both so familiar, yet at times so uncertain that you spend your minutes just figuring each other out. That is my ‘new’ life now and I am so incredibly grateful for it. This is just the start of my love story and I have to remember that every day is a new page in a chapter of their life, so just taking it day by day is the best approach and I’m getting better at that. It is also the most beautiful gift too.