I am getting better at being a mum.
At mother’s group the other day, someone very smart said something very sensible (I don’t mean me.) She mentioned that a friend of hers who is a new mum is s.t.ruggling. Apparently she’s really into controlling things and of course you can’t control babies. Anyway, this very smart woman then said that she had reassured the new mum that it gets easier, then thought for a moment and rephrased, “actually, I think you just get better at it”.
And I think I’m getting better at it. My baby is 6 months old now. That’s 6 months of keeping her safe and warm and fed and clothed and loved. I won’t pretend that it’s been smooth sailing. I also won’t pretend that my little one is the hardest baby I’ve met.
I am still exhausted. The baby sleeps* through the night now which has been a splendid development. Nonetheless, I am still exhausted. I remember thinking I was tired before. We’d have a big weekend and then a big week at school with parent/teacher interviews, meetings, etc. I’d walk into the staff room and complain. Tell people not to talk to me before I had a coffee. That kind of up-myself pretentious bogus.
The baby doesn’t care if I haven’t had a coffee or slept or need a wee or haven’t showered or if I’m nude or if I’m on the phone or if I’m starving or have my hands in the sink all wet and wrinkled. She demands, no, commands attention.
On occasion I’d get so angry with her. She’d have her eyes squeezed shut, an arching back and mouth wide open screaming and I’d be furious. How’s that for a selfish response? It was so new though. I was used to being able to tell people ‘no’. I didn’t like saying no (I am a people pleaser after all!) but I could do it if I wanted or needed to. Change takes time to get used to. Some women say the moment their baby is born they’re just filled with this sense of fulfilment and they’re immediately highly maternal beings. Some people might actually feel like that. I suppose. I felt like that a bit initially too I suppose. In the hospital I was all “I got this” and I really thought I did. Then she got a bit older and when she was about five weeks old we had three days of constant crying and I couldn’t put her down, even to sleep. According to a handy app I have, she was going through her first ‘Wonder Week’ and it was a massive shock.
There’s been similar occurrences since. I’ve felt spectacularly vulnerable and overwhelmed a number of times. I’ve cried. A lot. Loudly. Conversely, I’ve laughed a lot too and at times I thought I might cry in public with pride because someone has looked at my baby and I’ve thought, “you wish she was yours, but she isn’t, she’s mine”.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, I’m getting there. I know there will be set backs and days when I just get it wrong. And that the next day I might get it wrong again. Right now though, I feel like I’m getting better at it. People said to me (over and over and over and over again), “it gets better. The first three months are tough but I promise it gets better.” That three month mark didn’t change anything for us and I was left feeling quite disillusioned and defeated. I’d go to bed each night thinking over all of the things I could have done differently to maybe have diverted the hour or two of screaming that would have had me calling my mother, husband, sister, sisters-in-law in desperation. I wasn’t succeeding and for a while, I wasn’t really doing very well. Five and a half, six months, seems to have been where the corner turned for us. I can get out of the house now without her going bananas in the pram immediately. I’ve made an effort to get out into the sun and watch the leaves, go on a swing, touch the grass, etc and it’s been a really great couple of weeks.
So, it’s been six months and I’m better at being my babies Mum now. Today she cried hysterically for some time and refused to feed this evening which was a bit of a concern after the last few days of being a happy, giggly, sweet baby girl. I couldn’t work out why. She’s six months - she’ll be getting teeth soon so maybe that’s it? She’s been eating different foods and she did a terrible poo so maybe it hurt? I’ve had six months of experience and I’ve learned a lot so I didn’t drop my bundle.
So, I feel pretty confident that I’m maybe, potentially, possibly, hopefully getting better at being a Mum now.
*I use the term ‘sleeps’ loosely because she still wakes up and cries off and on for about halfa, but still… I don’t have to do anything so it counts!