I had a baby. Not news to many of you. Said baby is now approaching ten weeks old. It's true that between trying to sleep, eat regular meals and keep a small person alive, blogging has been low on my list of priorities, hence the lapse. I did try and fail on several occasions to write my birth story in the weeks following munchkin's arrival. On the one hand a part of me thought that it might be cathartic to 'get it off my chest', but a bigger part of me was just depressed about the whole experience and failing miserably to view it in any kind of positive light. Although I still get a little sad thinking about what transpired for us, time has taken away the guilt factor and the satisfaction of watching our daughter grow has eclipsed the disappointment I felt over the birth plan going to pot. I'm still not of a mood to share that story but I do want to start writing again. It's a substitute for REM sleep as an outlet for sorting through the build up of bonkerdom that goes on in my noggin.
I fully plan on regaling the interwebs with our parenting adventures to date and back filling the gap (titles such as 'Breastfeeding: from Finger to Boob', 'Real Nappies: the Spectrum of Poo and the Wonders of Vanish', 'Conflicting Advice: How to Not Bop Health Professionals on the Nose' and 'Sleep or Lack Thereof'' all spring to mind). For today though, I'm starting small and considering how my daughter has changed my life generally so far.
First up, I kind of miss my job. Daft, I know. Many people would consider nine months off from your regular nine-to-five a godsend. However, I like my job. I have a fairly good handle on how to do it and when I don't have a clue how to do something I just throw a lot of time and effort at it until the troublesome task is done. Even on the worst days at work you are contracted to be there so many hours a day and you know that at some point it will all stop and you can put your coat on and go home. This parenting thing is tough. You never get to put your coat on for the day, and more worryingly, you're never quite sure you're doing anything right. There are small achievements; ten fingers and ten toes, your child has a good weight gain, the first smiles and coos or even just making it out of the house by a given time. However, there are a lot of disconcerting things too, like your child losing too high a percentage of its birth weight in the early days, not knowing why your child is crying, being unsure whether you're producing enough milk, are you dressing them too warmly or are their hands cold? The list goes on.
Secondly, as a person, physically and emotionally, I am unmade as a mother. I'd like to say I don't feel whole but that would imply that I've lost something or that I'm damaged. I suppose it's more a feeling of being taken apart and not quite put back together with the pieces in the right places. The emotional roller coaster of the first few days, not helped by serious feeding issues, settled quickly and only really gets rocky these days when lack of sleep is combined with the little one being unwell and more demanding than normal, or excessive cluster feeding. I've also been really lucky and I've recovered well physically (stretch marks, or 'tiger stripes' as MC affectionately calls them, aside). I have the remnants of some baby weight to lose but I'm content to do so slowly and steadily. Munchkin is in a low centile for her weight gain (being a long skinny thing like her Daddy) and so I can't take any drastic measures that might affect her milk supply. There's the physical stumbling block for me I suppose. I don't feel like my body is my own. I expected that of pregnancy, what with having an occupant and all that jazz, but breastfeeding is a marathon. It's being on call to another being's needs twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It's never being able to have your partner take the 3am feed. It's not being able to be away from your baby for more than a couple of hours.
Would I go back and do it all over again? For munchkin? Definitely. I'm not so sure I'm game for repeating the process but everyone says that at least for a while I suppose.
We created life and that's pretty amazing. She's adorable and bright and exhausting and fun and I can't wait to watch her continue to learn and grow. My life now: bent out of shape and slave to a 60cm tall strawberry blonde. No paper pushing, meetings or major achievements in sight but today I got to add bogey patrol to my parenting repertoire. It's still my life, just a different brand of bonkerdom.
We made it through the early days and we're all still alive. The potted plants however, didn't make it. I apparently can't multitask living entities and I don't have the energy to beat myself up about that. Life is about the small victories people.