Baby Henry is now 12 weeks old, yet my labour seems like a lifetime ago and I can’t imagine life without my little lad in it.
He’s smiling and giggling, chatting away (albeit in baby language) and desperate to sit up and know what’s going on. He’s been sleeping 10-12 hours a night since 8/9 weeks old (I thought it was a phase at first!) and we are generally having a positive time of it so far.
We play together, go on walks together (the Baby Bjorn carrier is brilliant – and it helps you to work up a sweat carrying that baby’s weight on you!), go shopping together, have sofa snuggles together, go to groups such as Baby Sensory and Caterpillar Music, we go swimming, see our mummy and baby friends, see family together – Henry has become my little buddy and we have a lovely time…
He’s now starting to entertain himself – on his play mat, in his swing chair, on his bouncer or more recently on his new Baby Snug from Mamas and Papas (it’s amazing, such a versatile purchase – I recommend!). I love how he has started to really interact with toys. These 10 minute bursts where I can put him down so I can eat, have a pee or shower are priceless (fear not – I do put him in view of the shower cubicle!).
Don’t judge me, but not forgetting the occasional dose of nursery rhymes on YouTube on the TV – anything so I can have 20 minutes to throw a dinner in the slow cooker, fold laundry, put ANOTHER wash on, empty the dishwasher, run the hoover round, feed the cat, make a couple of calls and woof down some breakfast!
This all sounds positive right? Our happiness, my productivity, less sleep deprivation and the fact I can put him down to either entertain himself or to nap etc….
I’m sure it is around the 3-month postpartum stage that it becomes a turning point for many new mums – or at least experiencing some level of progress since “labour day”. For me and many of my mummy friends, it seems to be around this time that routines start to evolve, nap times become consistent, we’ve learned how we can shower and get dressed before lunchtime (!), we start to understand our babies needs and we regain *some* kind of “structure” in our lives again.
We generally start to get our shit together! YIPPEE!
The so called “perfect” vision of early motherhood and baby satisfaction I have portrayed above isn’t guaranteed every day – nor is it necessarily frequent. Early motherhood is not plain sailing!
I hate seeing Henry’s bottom lip go, or when he screams and I can’t find a way to calm him. Or when he decides to pee all over me as soon as I take his nappy off or when he manages to poop everywhere except for in his nappy (how does that even happen?!), sometimes needing three outfit changes in a day.
And that sheer horror of when the baby screams in the supermarket and you have to stay calm through the aisles, eventually resulting to holding the baby in one arm, pushing your pram with the other whilst your basket of shopping rests on top of it (and staff offering their assistance to you as they see the panic on your face and hear the meltdown your baby is having!).
The last few months have been life changing albeit unexplainably incredible, yet I have had a few reality checks – learning that life really is a complete contrast to what it was just a few months ago…
Being an adult in a lonely and/or non-adult environment…
When one goes from a high-flying career in the bustling capital city, earning (okay) money and being in the know within your industries, to earning nothing and living days (sometimes alone and mind-numbing) where occasionally all I achieve is half a battle against a mountain (or two) of laundry.
When sitting at your first ever baby group, you can’t help but cringe inside and think “oh boy, this is somewhat different to that marketing strategy I wrote this time last year!” whilst you sing and sign away to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I actually really love going to the baby groups – especially Baby Sensory.
Some days I feel out of the loop of ‘life’ and adult conversation that I succumb to picking up a copy of The Sun newspaper and the latest issue of Grazia – for news, celebrity gossip, fashion updates and a bit of escapism!
Every day is a “diet starts tomorrow” day because sometimes my meals need to be quick and full of carbs (!) – such as hot cross buns (with no time to toast or butter) for breakfast, bagels and cream cheese for lunch and two bowls of cereal for dinner! Quite often there isn’t time to butter the bread let alone make a meal and it’s perfectly normal to eat lunch at 5pm and dinner at 10.
On the flip side I have recently started to make smoothies again and now Henry is napping in the day and goes upstairs to bed around 7-8pm, I have time to prepare and eat balanced meals again. I’m even batch cooking again now – the freezer meals I made whilst on maternity leave were a life saver during those early weeks of motherhood. Oh how I took timely and freshly made salads and packed lunches for granted, and I don’t remember a time where my husband and I have ever ordered so many takeaways before. It’s definitely time to nip that in the bud!
Your baby is YOUR world – but they’re not everyone else’s worlds…
We’re lucky with the wonders of social media, email and WhatsApp how we can share photos and videos with friends and family. The next question here though is do they want to be inundated with photos of your little one? Maybe the odd one or two and they’re too polite to tell you to ease off the baby spam haha!
Practising what one preaches, I checked that I left it a whole month in-between my last baby photo “post” on Facebook and I do the occasional “My Story” on Snapchat and Instagram stories. If someone shows interest in a WhatsApp chat then I’ll share away, but this is an area I’m conscious of – Henry is my world, and not necessarily theirs.
Initially you enjoy a flock of visitors and interest for your newborn. Some friends and family may not visit you at home. Some have only met Henry once. It doesn’t mean they don’t care, they’re naturally very busy with their own lives and goings on, or may not live around the corner. I actually loved going to visit friends and family with the baby in the beginning – by way of getting out of the house! The level of love you do get though – albeit in person or via phone/text/email/Facetime etc – is beyond amazing and something I’ll always be thankful for.
Friends and friendship dynamics…
Speaking of friends, wow I love my friends. SO MUCH.
I left my desk job just before I had my baby and I totally took some of my relationships with “colleagues” for granted – seeing them on a daily basis. They weren’t just colleagues but real friends, some whom I had worked with for years. I miss them and I feel very heartfelt that so many of them keep in regular touch with me and some whom have even been to visit me and Henry, taking the trouble to travel far from where they live.
My friends are so important to me. The wonder of WhatsApp – where we all share updates in one group. We are each others ears for listening, general chit chat, we provide words of wisdom as well as offering amusing stories from our daily lives. I do love how often have at least 87 unread messages to get through, no matter what time of day.
I include friendship in this reality check, as I was expecting (aka dreading) that my friendships would change – but they haven’t. I still see my friends – not as often as I’d like (one can’t have it all) – but I’ve already enjoyed evenings out with them, cinema dates, girly nights in, brunches, lunches etc.
Having a baby does require a level of “adaptation” but I’m able to enjoy the best of all worlds (to a degree). It’s nice when they proactively choose to come and see me too – especially as I currently don’t live close to most of my friends and family, and also now that I have to start settling Henry in to a bedtime routine at home. I was worried I’d either be forgotten about, not invited to things, perceived as “boring” to see or chat with and generally be written off for any social occasion – for simply becoming a mother. It’s proven to be the opposite. Phew and yay!
Time to yourself
This is probably the biggest reality check of them all for me. Before I had Henry I naively thought that I would have chunks of hours during the day – every day – just for me! Fellow mothers I can hear you laughing!
I had a whole list of Netflix series to binge, a backlog of blog posts to write up, exercise DVDs to do (LOL) and various ‘personal admin’ to do. NONE OF THIS HAS HAPPENED.
Okay, I admit, I’ve done a couple of blog posts and I am slowly working my way through Gilmore Girls – but usually whilst I’m either expressing milk or when I finally crash out for the night.
In the early days (when baby slept a lot in the daytime) I’d get the odd thing done. But as Henry becomes more alert requiring more attention and greater stimulation, I seem to get the bare minimum amount of chores done – sometimes just enough time to prepare his bottles and text the husband asking him to grab fish and chips on his way home for dinner!
Granted this is a long blog post (if you’re still reading this then thanks for sticking with me!) but it’s taken me nearly a week to write – at times typing one handed with either the baby or my electric breast pump in the other! All part of the motherhood fun!
I’ve managed to finish this post (finally) whilst I keep one eye on the monitor as Henry is calmly sleeping away upstairs. It’s time to go fetch him from his afternoon nap, so I’m going to end this post here. #priorities
The handful of reality checks I’ve listed (there are tonnes more I assure you!) are not at all bad, I’m not being negative at all and I know I’m not alone in my thoughts. Having a baby automatically requires change of all sorts, life is not just about you anymore…
I wouldn’t change a single thing. 🙂
Thanks for reading.