It’s 4am and Henry’s little eyes are wide and alert, while mine are fighting to stay propped open. Three weeks after his birth and the adrenalin and haze of the early days are beginning to clear, only to be replaced by good old sleep depravation, which has really started to take its toll. It’s in these wee small hours that I’m starting to question whether I’m able to handle all this. Whether I’ll ever feel properly rested again. Whether I’ll ever sleep more than a maximum of 2 hours at a stretch. Whether my eyes will ever be without the dark purple under circles that even my trusty touche éclat can’t shift!
Already armed with at least some knowledge of what to expect from a brand new baby, being a new mother is somewhat easier the second time around. I use the word ‘easier’ loosely as those of you who are mums out there will probably agree with the old cliché: it’s the best, yet the hardest job in the world! For the first timers, the pressure of not knowing what to do and not being able to have full control of the situation can be all consuming – I know I certainly felt so when I had my first. This time, however, I’ve vowed to trust my instincts a bit more instead of sweating over the parenting books (which would probably prove more useful if every baby was the same and played by the rules. Which they definitely don’t!)
In the morning light, however, no matter how tough the night shift has been, things always seem better. Especially after a cup of coffee, some chocolate and an understanding ear to rant to. (Talking about how you are feeling instead of keeping it inside is something I wish I’d done more of the first time around – if only to reassure myself that I’ve got this newborn malarkey under control and that some of the overwhelming feelings won’t last forever – just like the round the clock feeding marathons! So this week I’ve written a list of just some of the things you might find familiar if you’re also in the midst of the early weeks as a fledgling mummy. And if you’re reading this at a similarly ungodly hour wondering if you’ll ever feel ‘normal’ again, then rest assured – you are definitely not alone!
You know you’re a new mum when…
1. You find yourself permanently draped in muslin cloth.
2. The very moment you’re not draped in muslin cloth is the moment baby decides to bring up half his feed over the clean top you’ve just put on.
3. Your google search history includes things like ‘should I offer one breast or two?’ and ‘why does my baby make strange grunting sounds at 3am?’
4. Two days after the birth, your midwife asks you if you’ve thought about contraception and you look at her as if she has two heads.
5. You become obsessed with how best to burp your baby. Upright, over the shoulder, across your lap – although none of it really seems to work unless you’ve been doing it for at least 30 minutes.
6. You wonder why you’ve not lost an extra kilo through the sheer amount of jiggling that you do up and down trying to disperse baby’s wind.
7. You quickly make a note to self actually not to jiggle too much due to pelvic floor not being quite as taut as it used to be. Note to self: don’t forget to do pelvic floor exercises.
8. You wonder how the heck you actually do pelvic floor exercises properly when all you seem to be able to engage is your butt cheeks.
9. You become obsessed with baby poo. It’s frequency, colour, texture, smell.
10. You debate whether 6.30am is too early to eat cake.
11. You wonder if a small glass of prosecco will make your baby windy. (It’s only for medicinal purposes, as my dad likes to remind me.)
12. Your joy at being told you’ve gone from a modest B to an ample E cup is quickly replaced by the realisation that those bad boys are way too highly sensitive to enjoy.
13. If you’re breast-feeding, you realise you routinely forget to tuck one of the bad boys back in after feeding.
14. You find breast pads everywhere.
15. You forget to put said breast pads on and end up with two wet circles to match the wet patch down the back of your clean top.
16. You realise you’ve just spent the last 10 minutes gazing at your baby sleeping when you should have been taking a nap yourself.
17. You lose another 10 minutes of possible nap-time just checking that baby is actually still breathing.
18. You’ve already broken the steriliser and melted something that wasn’t supposed to be sterilised.
19. You empty a box of formula over the floor in the frenzy to make up a bottle for late night feeding.
20. Your nappy bag is packed to the gills for every eventuality including a sudden switch to arctic like weather conditions.
21. You have gotten very good at giving the husband orders. Sometimes even just grunting and pointing with one hand does the trick.
22. You order a multitude of trendy looking nursing clothing online with multiple flaps for rapid breast access, only to realise it makes you look like a frump. (“It’s a little granny-ish,” says the well-meaning husband.)
23. A solo trip to the supermarket feels almost as good as a night out.
24. You wonder how new babies manage to smell so darn good.
25. A good friend gives you a hug and tells you that you are doing an AMAZING job. Hold on to that.
There will be so many times you feel like you’ve failed, but in the eyes, heart and mind of your child, you are still Super Mum.