Motherhood So Far: 2 Weeks In
Motherhood. Wow. I've had about 4 hours sleep and I'm not really sure where to start. That I am even writing this now is some sort of miracle given the aforementioned lack of sleep and the fact that I have a 15 day old babe who is a relentless feeder. I'm having to forgo some of my usual high standards with my writing, aware that I won't have the time I usually do to put into drafting and editing my words. The alternative to this is not to write a darned thing and I think I'll just go crazy if I do that. So if you spot any typos or grammatical sins then know that I may or may not have spotted them but either way I'm just too preoccupied and tired to give a shit.
This article was supposed to be ‘my birth story’ but I tried to write it yesterday and managed a paragraph in 6 hours. It's a really intense and epic story to tell that takes more concentration and time than this sleep deprived baby brain can handle right now. So I thought I'd just share some things about these first two weeks as a brand-spanking new mama.
Motherhood is totally fucking amazing. There's nothing that can prepare you for suddenly having this tiny little human who totally depends on you for absolutely everything. It's beautiful and miraculous, and it's also totally exhausting. It's a challenge like no other and it's one that I am absolutely loving. Everyday there is something new to observe about my baby. Every day there are changes. Time has never flown by in a haze as much as it has these last 2 weeks, but simultaneously, I've never experienced such acute awareness of time’s passing. Of each moment that flickers in and out of existence - each moment that my baby is a little older, a little different. My baby is growing so quickly and I know this will all pass in the blink of an eye. This tiny munchkin will be grown before I know it and I want to savour each moment to the max. I am so deeply aware of how precious this time is that it leaves me with a very unique sort of sadness. A kind of mindfulness that carries a sense of heaviness and melancholy amidst such complete joy. It's beautiful, utterly poignant to the point of tasting my salty tears as they run down my warm cheeks.
In the last 2 weeks I have had so many beautiful memories that are etched into my brain forever. So many things to savour…
The way my partner supported me like an absolute boss during my 36 your labour. Hearing him say 'give her to Claire’ with such emotion in his voice, as soon as Juno was born. Holding her in my arms, skin on skin, me: covered in sweat and blood and shaking from the marathon of birth, and her: pale and soft and slippery and so full of spirit. The moment that I first met my baby girl and looked into her eyes. So strange yet so familiar. Seeing the look on my partners face as he holds our baby for the first time - the pride and the joy. (I don't know if there is any experience more satisfying, more beautiful and primal than seeing the man you love fall in love with your baby).
And so many little things that bring immense joy on a daily basis...
The look on Juno's face when she's sleeping. I could watch this forever. Her little smiles. The faraway look in her eyes when she has a poop. Or pushes out a big fart! I never thought watching someone poop could be a source of such joy! The myriad of delectable noises she makes when she's sleeping. Those moments when she's calm and just checking the world out with her big deep blue eyes. The way she tucks her legs up like a frog and curls up into the cutest little bundle. The way she waves her arms in the air and moves her dinky fingers when she's excited or impatient. The satisfied noise she makes when her lips hit the boob and she know the milks about to flow...I could go on. But I'm grateful you're taking the time to read this in your busy life so I'll leave it at that.
Of course it's not all filled with sweet joys and cooing. There are some really tough parts to motherhood too. The most obvious (and most debilitating?) being the chronic lack of sleep. This was something I was a bit anxious about because I really need my sleep (who doesn't?!) and a couple days bad sleep has often left me with a migraine. Migraines are bad enough without having to look after a newborn. Given that my labour was so long and I was up for 3 nights on the trot from the beginning of labour to the time I left hospital, me and sleep didn't get off to a solid start. But the total high of giving birth and getting to meet my baby meant that I was surprisingly okay. No migraine. No trying to kill anyone. For the first 2 days of Juno's life she was not a happy bunny. She cried a lot, the most disconcerting shrieks spilling so powerfully into the space around her , the kind of cries designed to stress the crap out of you. She was just mega hungry and hadn't eaten enough (which made me feel like a bad mum). Hence the first couple nights wasn't very fruitful on the sleep front either. Turns out that even when babies do sleep for a few hours solid, mama's sleep resembles something halfway between wakefulness and slumber and isn't the kind of sleep you once knew and loved. Uninterrupted sleep is a thing of the past but hey beggars can't be choosers.
Since Juno has been feeding well sleep has been better but it's up and down. Usually down. She wakes every 1-2.5 hours or so and by the time she's fed, had a happy change, (loudly) expelled loads of some wind, and then slipped back off to sleep, at least an hour has passed. How the hell do new mums deal with this? Basically because we're seriously badass. But also because we are driven by the most instinctive and potent natural force to protect and care for our babies, which gives us superpowers that you can't imagine possible until you're initiated into mumhood. (But also: carbs and coffee and friends and family and Netflix and naps). A quick word about the naps: they say when baby sleeps you sleep. This is a wonderful idea that would solve slot of sleep deprivation issues if it were possible to adhere to. The main spanner in the works with this is that the only time you get to yourself all day (and night) is the time when your baby is sleeping! The sense of liberation you feel at being able to actually DO STUFF, like everyday normal stuff, without having a person attached to you is so novel and sweet that simply going to sleep doesn't always feel like the best use of this time. For instance now my baby is fast asleep on me and I'm knackered but it's also important to me that I get to BE ME for a while and indulge in some writing. I guess it's about choosing your battles based on the ever-changing landscape of motherhood. Today, for now, I've chosen to write. Tomorrow (and later) I'll probably just sleep.
Another tough thing is not getting any time to yourself. As soon as you have a baby you're completely responsible for another person's life: feeding them, clothing them, keeping them warm enough, changing nappies, tending to their every need. I absolutely adore looking after my baby and I love that I can provide her with everything she needs to keep her happy and healthy. But just because I utterly love it doesn't mean that there are no challenges. As much as I'm on cloud nine about being a mother, the loss of any personal space is at times a little tricky. Not having any time to do most of the things you filled your time with before you were a mum is a massive change, on top of what is already the biggest life change ever.
I may only be two weeks in, and I know there will be many more sleepless nights and levels of exhaustion that likely make my current state seem like a walk in the park, but the thing I keep coming back to is the fact that it all changes so quickly. All of life is such a transitory flicker. And no matter how exhausted or weary I may feel, I plan on being with it all. Relishing all of it. Holding gratitude in my heart. Because I know that one day soon I will be older, my baby will be grown up, and I will think back to sleepless nights holding my child with the man I love next to me, and shake my head because I just didn't know how good I had it.
If there's one thing to know, it's how good I have it. I plan on always knowing. On looking back and smiling at how good it was, and crying because I fucking knew it.
Life is a miracle.