The New Normal - getting used to life as it is now

Hi! How are you getting on? I've been away - I know I know, I promised I'd be here for you with help and support any time you needed it and then off I trot on holiday. I did check in with you, though, and it was lovely seeing the pictures on whatsapp. I never get tired of those. Now we're back I can't wait to catch up with you all in person.

I warn you now, though; we're still jetlagged so i may well complain at you that i'm tired. I'll apologise in advance for that now, becuase OBVIOUSLY you wipe the floor with me in terms of exhaustion. It's just that i don't remember it in as much detail as you do right now, so forgive me if I yawn in front of you, won't you? If nothing else it must give you hope - that there's a time in your future when you'll have forgotten what it's like to be as tired as you are now.

So the baby is no longer a newborn! She's awake a lot more in the day, has her eyes open more - she'll even start smiling soon. Proper smiles as a genuine reflection of her mood. You've been parents for what, 6 weeks now? It all should be coming together and starting to feel normal. Fewer visitors, fewer 'congratulations on the new arrival' messages. Becuase it's not new anymore.

 

Except, it doesn't feel normal yet, does it? You're still shattered, she's still basically nocturnal, feeds like a demon and wails like a banshee, at times. Don't worry. Just becuase you've been in the job for more than a month it doesn't mean you need to have all the answers. This is the time when you can use your wider network. The health visitors, the midwives, the other mums. People, mostly women, who have done this before and can help you find the answers you need.

I hope that you're starting to trust your own instincts a little more; you may not know what the right thing to do is but you'll have a few good gueses at what might be wrong when you hear certain cries. Remeber nobody - not even your partner in crime - knows the baby better than you do. 

Try, if you can, to get out of the house a bit. Do some research in the local area to see if there are baby ryhme time groups at your library, or stay-and-play groups, or mummy networks you can join. If there aren't, maybe start one if you're feeling brave.

Remember as well to take some time for yourself. It's okay if she's screaming like crazy and you're at the end of your tether to step outside the room for a moment and catch your breath. Yes you read that right - you can leave her to cry for an extra five seconds while you grab whatever is left of your sanity on the other side of a closed door. I'm not suggesting you nip to the shops - just a breath on your own that will stop you from going round the twist. And when Dad comes home from work give him a few minutes to adjust and then tell him you need him to be in charge while you walk around the block (just don't assume he's had a leisurely day of doing naff-all and throw the baby at him the second he walks in the door; that way an argument lies, trust me!). It's important you remember you're a person first and a doting mum second. 

 

I say all this but in honesty I haven't seen any evidence of you struggling - please believe me when i say this is from memory, not an assumption on your coping techniques. It looks to me like you're cruising through it, but it would be incredibly unusual if you hadn't had even the tiniest moment of crushing self doubt and exhaustion-driven desperation.

The more time that goes by, the more you'll realise we're all winging it, really.

Life may not be normal yet, but you are, I promise.

See you in a few days.

 

Lots of love from me. xx

 

 


Trust Yourself

I know I harp on about this all the time - but please learn to trust yourself, your instincts.

 

6 weeks in the grand scheme of things is a tiny amount of time to have learned anything, but it is enough for you to start realising you know your baby better than any baby expert, wisened midwife or experienced mother you may encounter because babies are people, and people are all different. 

 

If you think something isn't quite right, talk to someone. Ask for advice, support, guidance. Don't let anyone tell you that 'she's just a baby, and babies cry' because yes, yes they do cry. But sometimes it's for a reason and if it's enough that you think there's something beyond the standard tired / hungry / windy / dirty nappy cries that all mothers eventually learn to identify (even if just by trial and error) then that's reason enough to speak up. 

 

Your other half is the best first port of call because he, too, knows the baby better than anyone outside of your little family. He may well have all manner of ideas about what is troubling her and how it can be resolved. He may, also, be nonplussed and worried.  No doctor will shoo you out of their office, or midwife mock you for being paranoid. If they do they really aren't worth their title.

 

Most likely there is nothing majorly wrong, most likely your best guess is the right one and if you need someone else, someone who has been doing this longer and earnerd themselves some sort of qualifaction in their field to support you in identifying the problem then help is there.

 

As are solutions. 

 

It may be that baby is ready for Formula. It may be that she has reflux, or colic, or an intolerance of any formula you might already be giving her, or even the bottle you're using. Maybe she needs a dummy. Maybe a whole lot of things.

 

But don't suffer in silence or be scared of seeming like a demented and sleep deprived mum, trust your instincts, make an appointment and work out a way to get the help you need. 

 

All that matters is that you are caring for her, and doing the very best for her that you can.

 

That makes you SuperMum already. 


Competitive Exhaustion

Hi! You Awake?

Who am I kidding? Of course you are! About 90% of the flippin' time, right?

 

Yeah, I remember that. You are up half the night, if you're lucky you'll get enough consecutive hours just to realise how much you need more, then you're slapped awake by the sound of your little one crying. Screaming, in fact. So up you get and do the needful; change, feed, wind, rock. Whatever it takes to get her back to sleep. Sometimes, she'll go back to sleep. Sometimes, not so much.

 

Then the day consists of endless rounds of nappies, feeding, changing, rocking. Plus of course tidying up, washing, preparing something to eat (normally whilst holding a baby) or even actually eating - one handed, of course.

 

See how washing / dressing / making yourself look presentable doesn't even make the list? I used to meet up with my other mummy friends and we would spend the first five minutes apologising to each other for not having brushed our teeth or put on deoderant. True story. But go out and do things you must, for isn't that the point of maternity leave? And also, let's face it, to stop yourself from going completely stir-crazy. So on little to no sleep and a brain full of fuzziness you leave the house and try and get on with the business of being a mum and adoring your baby. Which, having seen you twice in the last week you seem to be doing brilliantly.

 

I am sure, however, that you're completely knackered. And that's totally fine, to be expected. Normal.

 

Just remember your other half, your partner in crime. Because while it seems like he has the best deal most days, he's probably feeling just as shattered and just as grass-is-greener jealous of you. Because he has to go to work. Not wants to, has to. It may feel to you like actually all he does is leave the house and take a sly nap somewhere but actually he has to be a functioning adult, with a job, that has conversations and interactions with all manner of people. Some of whom may not even know that he is a dad in the early stages of parenthood and expect him to be able to construct intelligent sentences. Drive a car. Sit at a computer. Operate heavy machinery or whatever it is he gets up to at work.

 

Those nights, when you do all the baby-stuff and he snores contentedly away? He's not slumbering peacefully the whole time, he's awake half of it at least. Worrying about you. Wondering if he should get up and help, or trying to get back to sleep and thinking about the full on work day he has ahead of him. He may beat you on actual time clocked asleep, but he's no more rested, really. Sure, he can have a hot cup of tea, doesn't have to change anyone's bum (you'd hope) or constantly hold a child, but there are downsides to his current lifestyle, too.

 

So the advice, then;

Empathise with each other. Yes you need him to know how tired you are and how overwhelming this all is - believe me it is imperative he is aware of any struggles you're having and how you're feeling - but does he need to know the very second he walks in the door? Maybe not.

Listen to him talk about his day - it'll be a nice change from your routine of baby-related habits anyway. Let him get changed and sit for a minute. THEN bombard him with your day, your news, your mental fug.

You're both in this together, and for so many new parents it is super easy to resent the other but the truth is you'll both have moments of feeling deliriously happy as well as just feeling delirious. Share them - the good stuff and the bad. After all, isn't that what you're both there for? It'll get easier, for both of you. Promise.

 

In the meantime, can you guys try NOT to look like you're handling it so damn well? It kind of makes the rest of us feel bad....

 

Lots of love from me xx