I’m NOT surprised that becoming parents has made me love my husband more. Good dads are hot.
Since Teddy was born, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how being a mother is “going.” Sorry if you’re one of the people who asked me that (still love you!) but it’s a ridiculous question. How could I possibly sum up the one million and one conflicting emotions that I experience each day, into a few words?
Mostly I say that it is not what I expected. It is more wonderful, more challenging, more tiring, more uplifting and more frustrating than anything else I’ve ever done in my 27 years of doing things. Being a parent is full of surprises…
I’m surprised at how much I am obsessed with baby sleep.
How much Teddy sleeps has become the barometer of my life. She sleeps well at night and has consistent naps during the day? Wonderful! I am a sleep guru. I am a natural at this parenting thing. I should pen sleep manuals full of my wisdom, as clearly, getting babies to sleep is my gift and I am the whisperer…. but when she doesn’t nap so well? Disaster. I am ruining her life, my life, my marriage, all at the same time. I have established bad habits. I have failed to teach my baby to sleep. She will never sleep well for the rest of her life.
Yes, I’m neurotic.
I have read around 14 different sleep books and can’t decide if I’m trying to “save my sleep” or be “baby wise” or if I’m pro Gina Ford or Tracey Hogg. The 14 different sleep books succeed only in confusing me thoroughly and crying to my husband that I can’t decide an “approach” to take. I then abandoned all 14 books because my kid sleeps well anyway, without much intervention from me and as mentioned before, I’m neurotic.
I will have to find something else to obsess over. Maybe feeding….
I’m surprised that I wasn’t able to breastfeed.
Not breastfeeding never really occurred to me. I’d done a lot of research before birth and was prepared for breastfeeding to be difficult, painful and perhaps stressful at first, yet it was something I thought I’d eventually get the hang of. When Teddy was born, we didn’t own a single bottle or tin of formula, simply because I hadn’t thought to buy them. I didn’t even make the choice to NOT buy them. I didn’t think to.
On the day of going home from the hospital, my husband and mother in law had to make a mad dash to the shops as we were about to take the baby home and there wasn’t anything for her to eat.
I pretended it didn’t bother me, the not breastfeeding, but it really did. The day I made the decision to stop trying to breastfeed and hope/pray/pump unsuccessfully/take medication that gave me blinding headaches to bring that milk in, was simultaneously freeing and devastating. I couldn’t make the decision on my own and after three appointments with lactation consultants, the last one looked me in the eye and very kindly said “it’s not going to happen for you, it’s ok to stop trying.”
I’m grateful for formula and Teddy is thriving on it – her dad gets to feed her, heck anyone who wants to can give her a bottle. I get to sleep more. She sleeps for longer. But still, it felt like my body failed me and I get a little pang of envy when I hear about how “breast is best.” Clearly my boobs didn’t get the message.
I’m surprised at how much I love my mother’s group.
I was hesitant at first, thinking that maybe we wouldn’t have much in common or that it would be full of super competitive women comparing how quickly their babies rolled over. It’s not.
My mother’s group is wonderful and meeting up with these awesome ladies has become the highlight of my week, the one thing I will drag my baby to no matter how unsettled she is…. because I need it. These women have been kind, supportive, reassuring and just damn fun to be around. I’m so hoping that our group doesn’t fall apart after we return to work, as these are friendships I want to last the distance.
I’m surprised and perplexed by my stomach.
I was very lucky and lost all the baby weight, apart from one kilo, within two weeks. I must have good genes. Thanks Mum! That and my body went into shock after birthing complications, which probably sped up the weight loss. I fit back into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I have no stretch marks. So I know I shouldn’t complain.
But my stomach? It’s weird. Some days it looks flat and some days it looks oddly distorted. I’m working on it by alternating between yoga, zumba and a healthy diet of iced coffees and milky ways.
I’m surprised at the weird things I now google and discuss openly with anyone who will listen.
I already know that I need to work on my mental filter and have “over sharing tendencies” (hey, buy me a coffee and you’ll get my life story. Unedited.) which I positively re-frame as “refreshing honesty in an age of superficial relationships.” But talk to me long enough and now I will very happily discuss baby vomit, baby poo, ear wax, post birth hemorrhages and a whole bunch of other gross topics that someone more polite would avoid.
The history on my computer detailing my searches is full of exciting queries like “how to tell if your baby has constipation.”
I’m surprised at how bored I get sometimes.
My kid is such a great sleeper that I find myself with a lot of time on my hands when she naps. Now, I’m not complaining but there are only so many books you can read and so many times you can watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. When the washing is done and the house is tidy and my “to do” lists have been updated and my emails answered, sometimes I wish that my uni would start back sooner so I have something to do.
I’ve surprised at how quickly my emotions can change.
One example…. (sometime last week, perhaps on Wednesday)
4:03 pm: (Thinking to myself) Oh, she is an angel when she sleeps. She is such a good baby. Look at her. No one else’s baby is as beautiful as mine. (Note, I’m rather self centered and obnoxious when left alone with my thoughts). How could I possibly go back to work and leave her? Maybe I should be a stay at home mum. That wouldn’t be so bad. I wonder if we can afford it. (Clearly I had forgotten at this stage how bored at I get at home sometimes and that I love my job).
4:07 pm: She’s awake. Gah, why is she awake? She needs to have a nap or she will be overtired and won’t sleep properly at night.
4:11 pm: I’m patting you and have turned on your sound machine. Why aren’t’ you sleeping? No, don’t smile at me. Go to bed.
4:17 pm: Ah, sweet baby. Look at how well and quickly you have settled yourself. No one else’s baby settles as well as mine. Clearly, you are a genius and very advanced for your age. (Told you I was obnoxious).
4:28 pm: Crap. Awake again. Sigh… You really need to sleep. Sleep is nice! It makes you feel better! Sigh…. I miss my work. At least they have air conditioning. How many months until I go back?
I’m surprised at how fiercely I love my kid.
I would move mountains for her.
Or spend the entire morning trawling through ebay for a second identical doll to the one she is starting to prefer, that happens to be discontinued, just in case the first one gets dirty and needs a wash.