It has been four and a half months since our littlest (and last!) was born. I thought you might like to know how we’re getting on…
Throughout the pregnancy this baby felt very different to the other two. We didn’t know her gender, so that was a constant source of pondering (a.k.a betting amongst family members). She gave ferocious, impressive kicks, every jab showing as she faced the “wrong” way – her spine to mine. Her chosen position proved problematic during the exiting process but I’ll spare you the details. These days she has the same penchant for doing things contrarily – only rolling from back to tummy instead of the other way around, which is the more common. Her diet preferences are Mum, thanks and Mum’s preferences are cake, so I think she is about 33% cake at this point. We’ve just started solids and she’s very keen on that business. I gave her a concoction that included broccoli, pea and spinach and she wolfed it down. We did a little baby to Mama fist bump about that. Her other recent development is making utterly delightful squeals. She’s been a bit less noisy and giggly than my other two, so far, so the squealing is quite addictive. While she might be more discerning with laughter she dishes out grins willy-nilly. She grins with her entire face – mouth, eyes, cheeks, ears. I call it the “you’re my favourite person in the world!” look. She gives it to her sisters, visitors, the butterfly kite hanging from her ceiling, the laundry basket and the couch. Indiscriminately cheerful. Perhaps world leaders should be made to cuddle smiling, squealing newborns every morning before starting the day. Surely the world would be a more peaceful place.
As for me, I’ll admit it’s been another one of those tumultuous journeys. There have been days I’ve had to divide into thirds and quarters in order to get through. Sometimes it was about surviving till the next nap, sometimes it was about getting through the next ten minutes. Sleep deprivation has been curse-worthy dreadful, as always. My role and Matt’s have diverged and that always brings about bitterness and jealousy and resentment. I’ve alternated between missing the other children while I spend time with the baby and becoming exasperated and enraged. “Don’t wake the baby!!” “But you are shouting Mama…” Yes, yes, let’s not be accurate, honey. Hormones have taken their toll. On my hairline, on my appetite, on my mental health. There have been days I’ve wanted to shuffle deep, deep down under the duvet, to the very bottom of the bed and hide out there. For weeks. Any worries or issues previously buried have risen to the top like yellowing lumps of cream in a hot drink. I have missed going for a run, missed seeing friends, missed waking up after sleeping a consecutive number of hours. Worst of all I have missed writing. More specifically, I have missed myself. So disoriented from sleepiness and dissociated from myself I often struggle to make decisions or know what I want. Matt asks if I want a) or b) (let’s be clear, we’re talking about something simple here like thai takeaway versus pizza) and I fall into a weird, spaced out void of indecision. Sometimes I am absolutely, perfectly fine and the next minute I am crying / yelling / eyeing up that tempting duvet.
There are some things I have done right / differently this time around. I have accepted every offer of help. Deliveries of food, offers to take my biggest to school, babysitting, play-dates, you name it. I’ve even asked for help. I know, I am agape. Recently B1 had a school disco [something beyond cuteness, that, just quietly. I had the thought, when I dropped her off, that it might be the very reason I had kids. The joy! The excitement! The freaky, wobbly dancing and kids running ‘round and ‘round the perimeters of the hall!] so I sent a group email asking for someone to drop her off afterwards. A group email! Imagine. Shameless. Truly shameless because I am not doing that any more. If someone is able to and wants to help they will and asking shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. Does asking show I’m not coping? WHO CARES. I’ve also started saying no to more things – travelling too far, going out after dark, helping to make costumes for B1’s school production. Some of which makes me feel a bit resentful, others a bit guilty but saying no helps me get through the weeks so I’m going to continue doing it. My best, most rational self knows it is just temporary.
This time around I have finally adjusted to the fact that I’m not much of a newborn person. I think they are an absolute miracle and I marvel at them. My sister just recently had the most handsome (not biased) baby son and I think he is divine. But newborns are not my favourite kind of baby. I like it when babies fists are fat and fingers are fat and the juicy, pork roast rolls of their thighs get lint stuck in them. I like when you rub your head against their round bellies and they let out wheezy chuckles. I like it when they are holding their heads up and want to be looking around, taking it all in. When they are desperate to stand and kick off and roll and crawl. To absorb, take in, swipe at, jump! at life. And when, truth be told, I can sneak off for a short moment to drink a cup of tea – a whole cup! – and write. When the both of us are finding ourselves or becoming ourselves again.
Perhaps four and a half months is my favourite age. Because so far? So bonny.
With love and gratitude to all those who help, accept my indecision, tolerate my rejections and alleviate my duvet-diving tendencies. You are the absolute best.
She’s a doll, of course! It’s nice to be past the “third trimester” isn’t it? Sending lots of sleep your way!
Beautifully honest and relatable Hannah. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Remember that it takes a village to raise a child/children – we’re not supposed to struggle on alone. This parenting caper is relentless, yes, there’s SO much love and joy too, but yes let’s be honest that it’s tiring too, and the take is strong; depleting. You’re an awesome mama and I hope you can carve out some YOU time this week for a long hot, uninterrupted bath with a great read; tea and cake; and conjuring up some more beautiful words. Biggest love and hugs from my tribe to yours xxxxx
Beautiful words Hanzy. Its a crazy ride this baby rollercoaster. You’re doing an incredible job- I am forever in awe of you big sis.
Wow – it’s like you went digging in my soul and delivered these words just for me. What a beautiful and encouraging expression of the tumultuous ride that is new babies. Enough honesty to know we’re not alone and enough left out to know we relate on every level. And sleep deprivation is literally torture – made to either kill us or send us insane. Those who survive may have the battle scars, but we will wear them proudly at school discos, balls, and weddings. Stay strong, and when you can’t stay rational, crying and indecision and flipping out are perfectly acceptable responses.
Dearest Suze, I just found our comment as I was….about to hit the bath! With a book! I love that phrase “the take is strong”. Gave me the impression of a strong rip in the ocean. And you know the key to surviving one of those – don’t fight it. Relax, float, let it spit you out and then swim yourself back to the shore…. x
I’m so glad you think they are perfectly acceptable responses, Jenny, because I’ve got sobbing, indecision and flip-outs down to a fine art!! Sleep dep is rough. This too shall pass. This too shall pass….. x x x
Aw, SIS, for some reason I’m not being alerted when comments are made on my post! I’ll get that sorted. Thanks gorgeous gal and marvellous Mama. I love you and I love being part of your tribe and having your tribe as part of mine. Kisses, chips and burgers (with a side order of cookie dough) x x x
You are so right, Ria. That last trimester is the roughest for me. I just love it when they are holding their heads up and it feels like they won’t break. Well, them and me, both?! Love to you x x x