Baby blues, baby boredom, and baby talk.
The first three months as a new parent.
I had no idea I was such a control freak, but you learn a lot of things about yourself when having a child. My little guy is turning three months soon. Three months! I can't believe how much we've been through in such a short space of time, and how long and yet short these months have been. On the one hand, I can't believe he's already three months. On the other hand, it feels forever. Time changes when you have a newborn in your life, and it's not the only thing that changes. I'm aware that the only people who will read this are people with babies, and more than likely people who are going through it for the first time. I know this because I have never looked up so many articles myself, and my Google search history is riddled with baby talk. Before this, well, I had no interest in it. People told me it would be all consuming, and they'd say things to me like 'you better get some sleep while you can', and I'd laugh and nod and pretend to understand. But I didn't. Of course I didn't. You can only understand this once you've been through it yourself. So here is a list of what I've learned since having a child. I hope it makes other new parents feel not so alone during those first few months.
1. BABIES TAKE UP ALL OF YOUR TIME
I had grand illusions of spending my maternity leave reading my books, watching TV, writing all those novels I have lined up, and having long leisurely picnics at the park. I had no idea how much time babies take, and that your entire day is spent feeding, burping, changing, and entertaining them. They sleep a lot in the first few weeks, but because they also wake up to feed every two hours, you're too tired to do much while they're asleep. Now, at almost three months, he's going for longer stretches without food, but he's also awake for a lot of the day.
2. MOM GUILT
I went into this blindly. I never read up on a thing before having Tyler, and I honestly thought I'd be the sort of mom who takes everything in her stride. I wouldn't fuss or worry about a thing. Then Tyler was born and, WHAM, I was hit with mom guilt. Guilt at not enjoying breastfeeding, guilt at finding it so hard sometimes, guilt for wishing he'd stop crying, guilt at crying when I should be grateful. Guilt, guilt, guilt. It can eat away at you.
3. BREASTFEEDING IS HARD
It started off fine for me, but from about the second week things got tough. It was so painful that I would just sit and cry while trying to feed him. For me, this was a worse pain than labour itself. It was a horrible time, and instead of switching to formula I persevered and persevered and persevered. Soon I switched to expressing instead, but this meant expressing for every feed and left me little time for anything else in the day. I have never felt exhaustion like that. I managed to get to six weeks before finally weaning him off and giving him formula. Looking back, I regret not making the decision sooner. I was trying to do the best for him, but sometimes it's good to do the best for you, too. Did I miss out on some serious bonding with him? Of course not. I bond with him every day, and now I can feed him with a smile on my face. Breastfeeding is easy for some, but it's not for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with admitting that.
4. WHY WON'T YOU SLEEP?
Sleep is the most underrated luxury of all time. I knew babies slept a lot so I figured we'd get a lot of sleep too. I didn't realise how many times they got up to feed and how long those sessions could sometimes take. I spent the first few weeks walking around like a zombie as I attempted to navigate my day on barely any sleep. It was tough. Add in the fact that I had to get up to express milk for his next feed, and I'm not sure how I was still standing. It's a lot better now, and by twelve weeks he's only waking once in the night. Still, the broken sleep is not fun, and I cannot wait for the day he sleeps right through. I belong to a Facebook group of all August babies, and the sleep issue is the one that gets mentioned the most.
5. BABY BOREDOM
This is something I'm only starting to feel now, and I'm assuming it has to do with the fact that he's more alert in the day time now. He's a feisty little one who seems fascinated with the world around him. He's desperate to sit on his own, and loves nothing more than when I hold him up so he can pretend to walk. But he's too floppy to do anything on his own yet, and he's not content to just sit and do nothing. There are only so many ways to entertain a three month old, and while I read to him and play with him every day, I can't help the boredom that seeps in. I don't want to wish time away, but I also cannot wait until he's old enough to play properly with me. Let's be honest, I'm the one who cannot wait to start on the Lego.
6. CONTROL FREAK!
I had no idea I was such a control freak. I'm not too good at just letting things be. I like structure and routine, and it is something that has always served me well as a freelancer. I am terrible at doing nothing, so when he sleeps I rush around to get some writing done, or check my emails, or clean the house. However, there are days when this just isn't possible, and I have had to learn to let it go. This isn't easy for me, but I'm trying.
7. AND NOW FOR THE GOOD...
The strange thing is, despite how hard this is, it's also the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced. Isn't that weird? A terrible day followed by a smile from my boy suddenly makes it all worthwhile. He smiles every day now, tries desperately to talk (the sounds are adorable), and I'm starting to hear the beginnings of a laugh. It's these little things that you have to hold on to. It's that moment when he locks eyes with you and looks at you like you are the most beautiful person in the world, or the moment when you see him discover something for the first time, or when you see the way he smiles when he sees his father walk into the room. It's the fact that you get so frustrated with him when he cries, but then miss him when he's not with you.
It's okay to sometimes hate being a parent. It's okay to sometimes want to run away. It's okay to feel confused and guilty all the time, and for your emotions to change every day. It's okay. Your coffee is going to go cold, you're going to become excellent at typing with one hand, and you're going to sing more songs than you've ever sung in your life (Tyler hasn't yet discovered that I'm tone deaf), but you're going to get through it.
Now, let me go and make myself a snack before he wakes up...