First up, I just want to give a shout out to anyone reading this who is a) pregnant or b) currently trying to blindly navigate the first few days or weeks of life with a newborn.
YOU ARE AMAZING. Like actually just pure fucking amazing. Give yourself a standing ovation gal.
I want to tell you that hardly any of the crap people insist on spouting to you about life once you have a baby is true.
Yes of course you’re tired and yes of course it’s a bit hard, but y’know what? I honestly think that once you’ve got over the shock of labour and having someone else to look after it’s a walk in the park compared to pregnancy. Especially that last bit where it feels a bit like the baby might fall out every time you stand up and people like to make comments about how whopping your bump is. Twats.
So just remember that you got this, and even in the moments where it feels like maybe lol you absolutely do not have this, just know that every week gets easier.
Just know that actually you can absolutely still be the old you. You just have to get a bit bloody good at being organised, at saying yes to all the offers of help and at prioritising what’s important to you.
Have I done a face mask or the ironing in the past two months? Nah mate I have not. But you better believe I’ve been having fortnightly manicures and taking outfit snaps for Instagram because they make me feel like me. And I like to believe that if you feel good on the inside then you’re radiating all that onto your kid and being a calm, patient, smiley mama (I just died a bit inside typing that, I AM OLD) and that’s surely a wonderful thing, right?
Anyway, the first few days after we bought Atticus home are a bit of a blur. I was insanely tired following two nights of missed sleep thanks to labour and my c-section (birth story over here if ya haven’t already read it) and didn’t have time to recoup any energy before being thrown into motherhood.
Whilst we were lucky that Atti took to breastfeeding relatively easily, he refused to sleep unless Chris or I were holding him, which temporarily rendered his cot, his Snuzpod, his Sleepyhead and his bouncer completely useless.
Sleep guidelines say that you shouldn’t co-sleep with your boo, but it quickly became clear that if we didn’t then I might die from sleep deprivation and surely that’s not so grand for him either? (Not being at all dramatic, obvs).
So Chris moved to the spare room and I spent every night feeling guilty that I might be on the cusp of accidentally murdering my son (spoiler: I didn’t kill him and he did start sleeping in his Snuzpod, praise the lord).
When my midwife visited on day four and told me it was likely I might start feeling overwhelmingly emotional within the next few days, I was all like tell me something I don’t know, whilst doing a smug hair flick because GUYS, I FEEL FUCKING FANTASTIC, THIS ISN’T EVEN HARD.
And then 6pm hit and I had to do my daily stomach injection of drugs to stop my blood clotting (a wonderful side-effect from my surgery) and all of a sudden I was crying so hard I couldn’t breathe.
And it went like that for a week.
The idea of night time and the darkness and the fear of the unknown – Would he sleep at all? Would I sleep at all? Would we actually make it through to morning? – completely overwhelmed me and I felt completely and utterly trapped in something much harder than I’d anticipated.
The prospect of never sleeping and of having to devote every waking second to someone else was, well… it was a bit much. I mean, if we’re being honest here, it wasn’t just a bit much, it was a lot much.
There were moments – usually when I had a baby vomiting across my bare boob at 2am where I seriously doubted my decision to have a baby. Maybe I hadn’t been ready, maybe I hadn’t anticipated just how difficult and all-consuming it would be and maybe, just maybe, I was an idiot.
And then just as quickly as it started, it stopped.
And I was like heh, OK, this is do-able. And more than do-able, this is actually pretty bloody ace.
It sounds ridiculous and maybe a bit depressing, but I reckon those first weeks are the hardest because you can remember your non-baby life so vividly. A couple of days ago you were sliding into bed at 9pm, watching a lil summin’ summin’ on the iPad and then moaning about the two times you had to get up in the night to wee because of your dumb bladder.
You can remember living completely selfishly, but the more time that goes on, the less easy it is to remember a life without a baby. You just adjust to a new normal. And actually, it’s fucking weird because somehow you survive quite happily on very little sleep. It’s like your body has some special back-up battery it’s never let you use until now.
SOME DAYS I HAVE FOUR HOURS SLEEP AND DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT COFFEE. UM U K HUN?
I think it’s made a huge difference that I’ve been able to get out the house and do a lot of pre-baby activities, which means that my life doesn’t feel too different from before.
Because I was self-employed and therefore not entitled to Maternity Pay, Chris was entitled to full Shared Parental Leave, and he negotiated with his boss to have longer off work than the standard two weeks.
It meant we were able to attempt to take on the world as a family – to go for brunch, for coffee, for walks, to the doctors, to Tesco, and even to London and Cambridge – to do the normal things we used to do as a two, but as a three.
Which in turn has meant that I’ve become pretty confident at just taking the baby wherever I go. I’ve breastfed and changed him in public, taken him on the Tube and taken him to coffee shops whilst I’ve done work.
(Atticus that is, not Chris lols).
It’s one heck of a juggling act, but contrary to popular belief you don’t actually have to spend every day with a newborn cooped up on the sofa in your leggings watching hideously awful (read: wonderful) TV.
You just do that for four days in a row and then on the fifth day you venture out and pretend you’re abso-fucking-lutely nailing life.
And, aside from having a newborn’s head to sniff at the end of a sucky day, there’s been one other pretty awesome thing that’s come out of this early bit of parenthood.
And that, guys and gals, is how much I love myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I have days where my body freaks me the hell out. Why you so doughy? Who these new stretch marks? But, birthing and looking after a very small creature has made me realise how awesome I – and all mothers – actually are.
I want to give myself some sort of large gold trophy that takes up half the living room.
Women are champions. They are strong and brave and hard-working and selfless, and I don’t think I quite realised just how much until I had a baby myself.
Some days I am dancing and singing to him whilst he’s in his bouncer, I’ve got a bean chilli on the go, I’m editing some photos, drinking a glass of wine, washing up, sticking some bottles in the steriliser and somehow still smiling and remaining sane and I think LOOK AT ME GO.
So yes motherhood has been terrifying and all-consuming but y’know what? It’s been utterly bloody wonderful too. Here’s to seeing what the next few months hold.