Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Witch Hunt

Baby is 6 weeks old. Should I celebrate? There should be pattern developing.. The only pattern I noticed is: do not expect any patterns. If baby gives me hope over a day or two, it will change the next day.
Nights are not too bad. 3 or 4 hours breaks between feeds - success. Why is it possible? Because that child doesn't nap! Day naps are rare. Days are desperate. When husband is around and able to help I can shower, go to the toilet, do the laundry. I am able to do a quick clean. Husband has to sort cooking, dishes, hoover, garbage - and his full time job. For a while he did cleaning, too, but I took this responsibility of him as soon as I could. He doesn't do the best job and keep putting things of. So even my rushed 'quick over' is better than his best effort.
Anyway, my days are my nightmare. Baby is mellow in the morning, we feed, change nappy, feed some more and then I hope for some hygiene and breakfast. But baby is having none of it. My baby feeds a lot, falls a sleep on the breast, I try to burp the baby, but it just sleeps on me. I put baby down. Baby seems to be sleeping. I put the kettle on, start preparing food or rush to do some chores or into the bathroom. Baby starts to fuss. Baby wakes up. Depending on mood baby will be calm for a while or scream straight away, but whatever the situation it will end up with screaming baby and me desperate to finish what I started. If it is cleaning or laundry, whatever. If it is my food I am upset - I don't mean eating, I mean preparing the food. I am quite good at eating and drinking while breastfeeding by now, I am a one hand wonder. But if I am sitting on the toilet or just climbing into the shower, what am I to do?

Today I made a big mistake and googled: 'my 6 weeks old baby wants to be held all the time'. Good news: I am not alone, there are more of us in this situation. Bad news: the forums are pretty clear that any woman who expects to leave her baby alone for a while is a horrible woman and doesn't deserve a baby. I feel I have been judged by a jury of super mothers. How dare you ask for me time, they say. You have to answer to your baby's cries, baby needs come first. Who mentioned anything about me time? The post was written by a woman who is, like me, unable to put her baby down for a little while. Since when is bowel movement considered me time? Apparently little babies need a response and company. Yes, I did know that. But I didn't realize I am supposed to provide it non stop. And I should enjoy it while I can, soon my baby will grow and refuse being held. It is hard to enjoy the cuddling and holding when you do nothing else all day long. According to my baby I should either hold it or feed it, baby can be put down only to be changed but requires entertainment throughout. As a good mother, according to the forum, I should forget about doing anything else and respond to my baby's cries all the time. I know baby is too little to self soothe. But who are those women? How do they manage to be fully responsive all the time? Do they have super powers? Or are they simply mean witches who want you to feel bad? Because women do that to one another, they can be pretty mean.

So I am done googling stuff. The only positive thing is that I know I am not alone. Other women have babies who want to be held all the times, too. That is enough for me to know. As for the advice, they can keep it. Did I damage my baby today because I did take a shower, prepared some food and sorted laundry of its clothes so baby has clean nappies and stuff to wear? Only time will tell, but honestly I don't think so.
I keep ending my posts with saying that motherhood is hard. It is basically a slavery. There are moments I enjoy it very much but there are moments of desperation mainly triggered by exhaustion. I realized quite soon after I brought my baby home from hospital that sometimes I will have to tend to myself in order to be able to take care of the baby. Again, I am not speaking about me time, I mean meeting my basic needs: food, drink, toilet, shower. How am I supposed to enjoy those precious moments when I can smell myself, my bladder is about to burst, I am starving or dehydrated? Could the net super mothers tell me how they did it? I have to make sure I am physically and mentally able to do the mothering, so sometimes my baby cries because I have to wash, eat, or drink. I even had moments when I simply had to put screaming baby down and leave the room because I couldn't take it anymore and couldn't be with the baby. I needed few moments away, so I took them. Life is tough.

I think that these super mums who managed to ruin my day think back about their early motherhood and remember only the good bits. Now they are convinced that they managed it well. As with labour, we tend to remember the good outcome and forget about the pain and suffering. I am glad I don't have much time for internet forums. They can be useful but they can be pretty damaging, too. We should mother by our instinct instead and forget about what people think or what worked for them.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

5 weeks

My baby is enjoying its fifth week with us and as a gift I was allowed to sleep almost 4 hours during the night, then, after a long and a little bit stressful feed I was given 3 and half hours extra. Is my baby growing into a little person who sleeps for longer? We are also starting to smile and communicate,  it is a nice change. Up until now it was sleeping, feeding, screaming, occasional moment of staring at me or windows or the ceiling. The little person is growing fast and changing rapidly.

The health visitor came in today and swore that it will get easier and I will get to sleep one day soon, but even today I feel like a superhero, who would think that last night could be considered a very good night?

Breastfeeding is going well. My only problem is that longer breaks mean fuller breasts and when baby starts feeding the fast flow makes him gasp and gulp and if there is no successful burp my darling will vomit a little bit. It happened last night and although it was quite easy to get over, at 3 am everything seems much more dramatic, I was wondering if I should consult the doctor about it. Could it be something serious? But today we are fine again, so I assume it was just an episode.

Right now, by 5 pm, baby is enjoying a nap which is shocking, usually by this time of a day we are having an almost non stop feed and one grumpy little person. I am so surprised that I am unable to nap. Is it possible that the hardest times are ending? Could I start returning to being myself again? The person who takes care of her appearance and wants to publish a novel? I managed to mop the floors today and to tidy up downstairs, what a nice achievement.

My husband is sitting by the desk, working. He is so happy he doesn't have to assist me with 'taming the beast' as we used to call our evenings. The baby would get so grumpy late afternoon and it would last till late evening - apparently they do it to stock up feeds for the night. If it meant longer breaks I didn't mind, but being woken up every hour and half after an afternoon like that made me desperate, emotional and upset.

I should try to have a nap. But I can not help thinking how every extra minute the baby gives me counts. During the day, I am desperately catching up with house work, paperwork, emails, calls. During the nights and evenings I sleep and sleep. My days are unpredictable and the highlight is my morning shower - the only 'me time' of the day. However, my maintenance is very simple. I didn't style my hair in the last five weeks, just put them back in a plate so they are not in a way and I can fall a sleep without doing anything about them. Same goes for skin care: cleansing and moisturizing in the morning, nothing in the evening. But now I do find time to take care of my nails (just to keep them short though) and I shave again, I didn't stop washing my hair regularly. On Sunday I even managed to put on my face mask while husband entertained the baby.
I wonder around the house in tracksuit pants and shirt which used to be husbands. The shirt is almost permanently undone as there is no point in fiddling with the buttons when baby demands yet another feed. To put something on when we go out for a walk is a challenge, but it feels nice to fit into my jeans and wear things that are not baggy and loose. Last weeks nice weather caught me by surprise, I wasn't ready to show off my skin, after so long time being pregnant and weeks of mothering, it is hard to return to being myself, or being seen in bright daylight in a simple dress.

But as I think about last night and look at the sleeping (for now) baby, there is a hope that I may put on skirt and a nice top sometimes soon, apply a BB cream and mascara and take it off in the evening (cleansing in the evening seems like a waste of precious sleeping time at the moment), or even do my hair and paint my toenails! I may even get out of the house for longer and spend more time around. And I probably will revise my novel sometimes this year! There is light at the end of the tunnel, I can see it now. Looking back, the beginning is really hard, but it is so rewarding. Seeing my baby growing and happy is the best reward I can get. My life is different and it will never get back to where it was, but it is so much richer, I am glad it is the way it is. Lets push my luck and try to nap....

Friday, 3 May 2013

Why didn't they tell me?

My last post feels like a century ago. Was I really pregnant? And yet it does seem that I was pregnant forever. Labour felt like such a big deal, the defining moment of my life. And it was, don't get me wrong. When it finally happened, it was intense, long, surprising and highly rewarding at the end.

The thing is: the labour I was so anxiously waiting for was just a beginning. There are so many information and speculation about labour (and I should write about mine more - it was a big deal) but at the moment I am too overwhelmed with what happens after. Why didn't they tell me about the after? Yes, we know there will be a baby here. Labour is only the beginning of a whole new life. A life that doesn't belong to me anymore. I knew it will be hard. I knew I will be sleep deprived. But I didn't know how much.

I was told newborns feed often and sleep a lot. Nobody told me they can feed more or less non stop, sleep at the end of the feed but stay unsettled the moment I try to put baby down and get some rest. Nobody told me how hard it is to figure out breastfeeding, I wasn't warned about cracked nipples, mastitis, mouth thrush, growing spurs and general fussiness. Is there a conspiracy going on?

When my baby was born I thought: never again. It was hard. But in few days time I was so deeply in love with the baby I thought: it is worth it. Three weeks later not so much. My mindset at the moment is: labour is OK, the stuff afterwards, the first weeks, that is the real hell. If I will be asked about having another baby, this time will probably be the reason I will not be keen. The only good thing is, I could die in labour but it is much less likely to die of mothering...

There are days when I think I did figure my new baby out and I do manage to dress up properly and do a little bit of work around the house. Today is the first time I was able to check my emails and post a blog, yet it was disturbed about four times by feeding. But the moment I think I am getting the hang of things and I can do motherhood, my baby changes its act and decides to be completely different. What worked yesterday doesn't work today and any progress is reversed.

I am exhausted. Thanks to very supportive and understanding husband I am helped as much as he is able to. Seeing me nearly in  tears this afternoon he took the baby for a long drive. Drive calms baby down and gives me a chance to have a nap. All I need is some sleep. Being so sleep deprived makes me emotional and blame the poor baby for its behavior which is not fair on the poor little thing.

Conclusion? This post doesn't make much sense and seems quite negative. Motherhood is tough. But to have a moment of calmness with my baby makes it all worth it. Sleeping for three hours and waking up to the 'ready to eat' noises makes it all worth it. Seeing my baby doing so well makes it worth it. Being a family makes it worth it. But it is the toughest job in the whole world.