Friday, 21 March 2014

Despair & Wonder


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I want to go on record as saying  that my son is a pretty cool little guy.

I realize you may not get this impression based on what I write here.  I admit the trying moments are much easier to write about than the good ones.  A common problem I'm sure.

There is a lot of despair involved with parenting.  (I say, with my 10.5 months of experience. Ha!)  There is also a lot of amazement and wonder.

one of the first photos of us together, despair & wonder rolled into one

Partially at our ability to keep him alive and safe and partially at his development into his own little self.  Watching him marvel at a blade of grass, discovering the fridge magnets, or his pure joy at emptying a drawer of hats and scarves is immensely enjoyable.  Savouring & documenting first mud stains and busted lips and bruised knees seems ridiculous and necessary.






And yet, I pause so infrequently to appreciate the journey this little man is going through.  While I complain it is all about him, a lot of the time it is all about me.  He doesn't need us to stay home so he can nap in the cot, Mummy needs him to nap in the cot because he'll sleep longer and she'll get a longer break.  But the reality is a 40 minute buggy nap while mummy sits in the sun reading a magazine is actually more restorative than an hour cot nap while mummy runs around the house like a mad woman so she can rest unfettered by the guilt of household chores for all of 10 minutes.



I can barely remember what my life was before this guy.  The horrid nights of crying on the bath mat are fading as well.  I long for a time when I won't be exhausted and can be a person on my own again.  But then I realize this won't happen.  He is permanently with me.  On the few occasions I leave the house without him he is still with me.  I see other mums and give them a smile that says, 'I feel you,' and they look at me like a crazy person because they don't see my invisible son.  They don't see that I am a mum too.

Sometimes I look at him and can't believe I am his mum.  That I am the person that can soothe him when he falls, that he actually wants to be with me all the time.  Me.  The woman who would rather not have to deal with children is obsessed with a child.

I live for nap time and take it personally when he only sleeps for 40 minutes.  But the look on his face when I walk into his room...I mean.  It's like he's won the lottery.  He doesn't know I'm selfish and require an extraordinary amount of 'me time' and that 40 minutes isn't going to keep mummy from going crazy.  All he knows is that his mummy has appeared and it's like Christmas to him. If he knew what Christmas meant.

It doesn't quite make up for the exhaustion at present, but I can see a glimmer of a future in which it will all seem worth it.



...back to your originally scheduled programming of parenting despair and mishaps.

Friday, 7 March 2014

110 mummy minutes


Teething nap.  As desperately typed into an iPhone on 18th of February.


First 20 minutes: screaming and crying in the cot, trying to escape.

Next 10: screaming and crying on mummy while mummy cries and sings.

Next 20: asleep on mummy while she fumes about being stuck on an uncomfortable stool in a dark nursery. iPhone only has 13% charge. She calculates how long it's been since she last ate anything (6 hours).  Gets more annoyed. Seethes about how unfair it is that she doesn't get any break today while simultaneously kicking herself for being a selfish jerk.  Poor little guys has tiny bones ripping through his gums.

Next 20: finds a moderately more comfortable position which means legs up on the side of the cot.  Uses precious little battery life to tweet situation because misery loves company and she isn't one to suffer in silence.
Baby stirs and she instinctively holds her breath because as uncomfortable as she is, she isn't ready to deal with baby just yet.

Next 20: hugs baby a little closer despite butt going numb and back screaming.  Getting over her self-pity at not getting a break today because really, how often does she get to snuggle the little guy these days and as annoyed as she is, it is kind of nice to have an excuse to not get anything 'constructive' done.  Really, teething must be a real downer for the little guy and he deserves some relief.  Maybe she dozes a little.

Actually enjoys the quiet time although s low blood sugar headache is starting to kick in and she's getting really thirsty and a tiny bit concerned about how and when she'll get to eat.  Really needing to pee and the rainstorm white noise isn't helping.

Starting to get uncomfortable again. Comfy feelings are starting to fade as she realizes the day he finally starts napping longer she can't take advantage of the break.

Last 20: All calm and loving feelings quickly disappearing as bladder gets more uncomfortable and headache increases. Throat and lips unbearably dry now. Back is starting to scream again.  Legs going numb from being propped up on the cot for an hour and a half.

Baby wakes, bleary eyed.  Cries until he realizes it's mummy holding him.  Gives a sleepy smile and starts crying again just in case she thought it might be an easier afternoon.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Fear


I recently returned to my yoga class.  Or at least my yoga teacher.  I attend the 'beginner' class after Charlie goes to bed.  I have only made it three times in three months so 'return' is a loose description but I made it two weeks in a row.

Tonight I did two poses I was never able to do before I was pregnant, or at least not confidently.

Maybe the fear is gone, because let's face it, after having a child what's scary about a few yoga poses, or maybe I'm stronger than I thought after lifting Charlie all these months or maybe I found a way to really be in my yoga practice.

Whatever it was, I did these poses without thought or fear and did them confidently.


There's a lesson there, I think.

Friday, 21 February 2014

An ending and beginning


It has happened.
It was inevitable.

Charlie has now been 'out' longer than he was 'in.'
We marked the milestone with an 'un-birthday' party.

It seems like an ending of sorts.

Or at the very least it seems a good time to reflect on the past 18ish months.

It's probably no secret that I didn't love being pregnant.  I never really got the glowy thing going.  I was sick at the beginning and in pain in the middle and then spent the last month having 'practice' contractions.

I'm not big on birth stories and I have put off writing mine in any detail but maybe the time has come to share a few things about dear little man's birth.

Like most preggos I was ready for the pregnant part to be over.  It's just so uncomfortable.  However, I wasn't ready for what came after.  Naively, I wasn't afraid of labour.  I knew it would end eventually, either naturally or with medical assistance.  I was, however, terrified of having to keep a little human alive.  I have never been a 'baby-person.'  I'm still not, really.  I love my son to pieces but that's about where it ends when it comes to me and babies.

At the end of my labour, after having pushed for three hours with no success and being man-handled in surgical theatre by at least twenty people, I was terrified.  I was so tired.  Things had not gone to plan to say the least, my calm homebirth having been scrapped 12 hours earlier when I started bleeding heavily.  I was crying and incoherent.  In an attempt to calm me, someone said, 'Just a few more minutes and you'll meet your baby.'

I appreciate the gesture and maybe that works for a lot of women.  For me it made everything worse.  One way or another, and it was looking very likely to be 'another,' this little being was coming into the world and I knew I wasn't ready.

And then he was here.  They put this little, hairy, bloody thing on my chest and I felt...nothing.  He was whisked away immediately because he wasn't breathing (silly thing had got his cord wrapped around his neck twice).  Within seconds he was crying and back with me, but I still felt nothing.  There was no rush of 'happy hormones' or relief or joy.  He was crying and I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't feel the lower half of my body and I was exhausted.



The next eight days in hospital were some of the hardest I have ever experienced.

It took a long time for me to bond with this little human.  For months I was going through the motions, making it up as I went along, stubbornly refusing to get all mushy about this little guy, but determined to do everything 'right.'

How silly.

The most important thing I have learned in the last nine months is loving my son is way easier than I thought it would be, especially when I get out of my own way.  These past nine months have been so hard and exhausting with very little respite.  I struggle with my selfishness and my need to make him and Pete happy everyday.

The unbirthday marked a ending of sorts but also a beginning.


Almost immediately after his party, Charlie's personality began to appear.  Most of the time it's cheeky and mischievous, but it is also sweet.  It seems to have come on very quickly. It's a constant learning curve and I always feel behind. I can't imagine how it will all change again in another 9 months.

I don't have any pithy or clever endings today but maybe that is appropriate for this loopy journey I am riding.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A Medium World


It's happening again.

The 'I-have-no-career-angst.'

For a few months now it wasn't such a big deal.  I was kept super busy whether I liked it or not and while I would occasionally think about whether I wanted to be a 'stay-at-home-mom' (*gasp*) I didn't have the luxury of lingering on the thought for too long.

I was having conversations/complainings with other mums and I didn't feel left out of the world. Amazing how pooping, eating, sleeping, playing, teething can make you feel included.

But now that time is coming to an end.

I always knew it would.

Now the conversations are about going back to work, conversations with bosses, nurseries, nannies, child minders, work clothes, commuting. And once again I am no longer part of the world.

My world has suddenly shrunk down to Mr. Man and our little routine and our little life.

Sometimes I despair. Days when nothing keeps him entertained and I haven't peed on my own in weeks and I'm wearing the same outfit of stretch jeans, slippers, and ill-fitting jumpers for the fifth day running, I despair. When I realize I haven't had a conversation with anyone over an age counted in months for an entire day, I despair. When I occasionally meet new people and they inevitably ask 'what do you do?' and I watch their eyes search for someone else to when my answer includes the word 'kid,' I despair. Sometimes I even feel left out of my husband's life. I am so focused on this little human I don't have the energy left for anyone else, my husband and myself included. And I despair.

If having this little guy has taught me anything it is that life is dynamic. It will change and shift and drag you along. Sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes unknowingly.

Sometimes I long for the luxury of lingering over a cup of coffee (okay, every morning) and being part of a bigger world of having a little something for myself of being able to carry a conversation that doesn't deal with stages of human development.

And then my son gets bored of his current toy, climbs into my lap and snuggles in to suck his thumb and watch some cartoons.


Maybe just a medium world, then.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Sometimes


Friday was a good day.

It was a good day in that nothing-special-happened-but-life-is-good way.

Naps went well. (This element is always a factor in whether or not a day is 'good' or 'rough.') We played easily with no forced engagement on either side. I got some chores done and managed to do something for myself during naptime. I ate regularly and even missed my son a bit when his nap ran long.

It was a good day.

I didn't once reminisce about my life pre-baby or wonder what it will become. I wasn't planning beyond the next few hours and I think I even smiled a bit to myself.

Life was good and I enjoyed it.



Friday, 3 January 2014

Returning to you

On the first day of this year I took a bath.

A bath.

Amazing.

I was probably only submerged for as long as it took to fill the tub (these free-standing claw-foot tubs are fabulous but take ages to fill) but it was long enough and hot enough to activate my deodorant.  I read a three page article while bath toys trapped in their mesh bag floated at my feet and the IKEA crocodile bath mat embedded squares in my soft backside.

Amazing.


Next week my little boy will be eight months old.

Eight months.

That time is marked by a visible increase in my silver highlights and eye cream consumption.  The majority of which can be attributed to a *lovely* sleep regression four months ago which lasted six weeks and probably took six years off our lives.  There is nothing more soul-destroying than your baby waking up five or six times a night (each wake-up lasting about an hour) for weeks on end.

Two words: SLEEP & TRAINING

If you pick the right time, which is usually just about the time you seriously consider going on holiday and leaving the baby to fend for itself (I mean you're pricing up tickets online serious), it isn't too bad.  I mean it's never easy to listen to your child cry, we went in periodically to sing and pat and say 'there, there,' but when we finally decided to go for it, it only took two nights.

You may have noticed I stopped writing about four months ago.  Coincidence? I think not.


However lack of sleep is the only culprit.  The halt in writing also coincides with an identity crisis.

I didn't make many declarations about the kind of mom I planned to be before Pruin was born.  I figured I would lessen my inevitable mommy-guilt.  However, one thing I did declare was to not loose my identity in my child.  For example, I would never make any 'profile photo' a photo of my son.  I would not refer to myself as Pruin's mom.  It's a small thing, but it felt important to me.  It took me until after the regression (almost five months) to allow myself to put a photo of my son as a background on my phone.  Which still seems silly as I see him every waking moment of my life.  However, when those waking moments are a little too much it is nice to have a reminder that he is cute sometimes.

I can hear all you parents laughing at me. Go on. I will probably do the same to those that come after me.

What I realize now is that it is impossible to not loose yourself in your new baby.  Especially if you are parenting without any family/friend help.  Not because they are too cute and squishy and wonderful (which they are when they are sleeping) but because they require every ounce of your being, body and soul and mind.  I don't want this space to turn into constant complaints about the slog that is early parenthood but in case you haven't experienced this particular life experience let me just cut to the point and say it can be pretty grim and at times even the smiles and giggles and amazing moments of watching this thing become a person aren't enough to keep you going. When you're shaking with rage and exhaustion at 4am, a smile is not enough.

But time ticks away and suddenly it's time for the next step, whatever that may be, and you find some more energy and patience as you dive/stumble into this next phase.  You have new things to stress over and the list from before seems to take care of itself as you obsess over purees or crawling or whatever.

It's at this point that you also realize that it might be time for you to take some time for yourself.  Get that baby out of the baby bath and into the big tub so the possibility of taking a relaxing grown up bath is actually a reality that won't require shifting too much baby stuff.  Take back that glorious free-standing tub.  Go out and face those changing rooms and get yourself a pair of jeans without elastic tummy panels. Yes, I'm still wearing my maternity jeans.  I haven't been able to face a changing room and discovering that my shape has forever changed and I no longer have any idea which brand of jeans, let alone size, will now fit.

But I made myself find the time to write and I took a bath for purely relaxation purposes.  So that's something.