It’s been a year since I last blogged. I remember me, then. I was so green. Like so many first time parents before me, I was naive. A year “off” would give me time to paint the sideboard, do a bit of upcycling, blog during naps, maybe write a book. The reality has of course been unexpected, harder beyond measure, more joyful than ever imagined.
2016 has been my best and worst year.
The slow, unyielding end of pregnancy. I marvelled at my body but I felt as if every bit of me was being wrung out. Looking for signs the baby was on her way constantly. Ended up with a pretty clear sign – a gush of water in the middle of the night, like a movie. Except for the bit where the baby shows up 10 minutes later. 2 days for ours with the cord stuck around her ankle.
The most beautiful day – when River was born. The worst bit was when I projectile vomited reacting to the injection to get the placenta out. The best bit obviously when the baby came out alive. A rush of relief. Can’t remember the contractions but there’s only so much hypnobirthing can do…
Then, vulnerable. Both me and her. Paul too. No clue what to do, couldn’t figure out why she wanted to feed again and again and again. Keep going, just keep going. I’d have been lost without Paul and Sara. My champions and heroes while I was drowning, they propped me up. Them and sheer bloody mindedness. My girl feeding 40 times a day and so much bad advice. A baby tracking app that needs to die, don’t use one, new Mums, they make you bananas.
Constant commentary on why the baby is crying.
“She can’t be hungry” said over and over. Why not? I’m hungry pretty much 24/7 too.
“She’s just airing her lungs”. Victorian ideas also included whipping and a corset during pregnancy. Let’s leave those ideas back where they belong, pre-1901.
“She’s manipulating you”. Nope, doesn’t have the cerebral complexity.
“Oh you’re one of those hippy Mums who doesn’t want their baby to cry! harharhar” It’s good to cuddle crying people. Please hug me when I’m sad.
The sudden realisation that a boob nearly always sooths River and is a magical tool to be used day and night.
I’ve known monotony this year. Not leaving the house for a full week several times over. Scared to step out of the front door. Milk-stained slapdash fashion in the absence of doing washing. Accidentally flashing the postman. Feeling like I’ve lost who I am. Amish hair plaited and dreadlocked constantly. A permanently damaged nipple from the early days of feeding with a tongue tied baby. Anxiety that takes over my whole body. No more than two hours sleep in one go. Serious eye bags. The phrase ‘I can’t do this anymore’ said more times than I care to admit.
Then from somewhere, came strength. A fierce need to protect my girl who is every cliché- the best thing I’ve ever done, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, a new perspective blah blah blah. Through bleary eyes like so many parents before me, I’ve experienced joy that a baby brings. A wriggling, chirping, happy baby that I grew in my body, fed from my body, a lottery win miracle. So much bloody respect for single parents, parents of multiples and those, like my sister who keep popping them out like they’re born to do it. Heroes, all of them. (Especially my sis who did it again this year).
All-consuming love. Nothing like it.
What a year.