Friday, 20 September 2013

Motherhood - things I now know

Here I am, at the end of my first week alone as a mum of two tiny people. We all survived and I feel, as I’m sure many parents do, inordinately proud. Every little task I perform feels like a major achievement. Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom (Monkey “helped” me mop the floor), vac’d and mopped the floors and did 3 loads of laundry. I felt like a superwoman! And really, considering how little sleep I get, and that there is a small person basically trying to undo everything I do, it is pretty impressive.

I am going to say something controversial though. I hate breastfeeding. HATE it. I am so disappointed that my experience with it this time around has not been better, but I blame my children. They must be broken. They are missing some sort of mouth/boob compatibility gene or have not read the manual. Whatever, they clearly have no regard for my nipples. I think the nipple thrush has cleared up, but Chicken won’t open her little beak wide enough, and clamps down with the force of an industrial vice. It hurts. But I’m a stubborn old mule and I’m not ready to give up just yet. So I just curse and cry and suffer through the pain 5 times a day. She better appreciate it when she’s older. It’s OK, I’ll remind her often. In speeches. Like at her 21st birthday party and her wedding.

So I am by no means an expert, but here are a few things I have learnt that seem worthy of passing on:

  • The hardest lesson I have learnt was to DO NOTHING.  Babies will cry – and you don’t always have to DO SOMETHING to stop it. This revelation was such a long time coming with my first child – I ended up eventually going through the pain of “control-crying” which is the extreme version of DO NOTHING - and I still find myself resisting it. There is that mothering instinct that means I cannot stand to hear my babies cry and I feel responsible to DO SOMETHING to ease their distress. But I remind myself that it is actually important to allow them to settle themselves sometimes (as long there is nothing actually wrong with them, like being hungry or wet etc). Doing nothing when your baby is crying seems inherently wrong but by constantly cuddling, rocking or soothing the baby I think they come to depend on it. In any case, it becomes out of your control when it’s your 2nd child – there is so much to do that by the time I get free to check on my crying babe she has often settled herself – woo hoo!

  • Everything always seems better in the morning.  At 1, 2, or 3 or even 4am I have been sitting on the sofa crying while my baby fails to latch properly, or pacing the floor patting her back, shhhhhhing, trying not to trip over with tiredness, everything seems so much more dramatic. I begin to wonder if Chicken has colic, or croup, or reflux, or that she is failing to thrive, and I consider all sorts of extreme measures… like taping her dummy to her face to keep it in… But once day breaks - even though getting up then seems harder than ever – after the coffee takes hold, I realise she is fine, I am fine, and we will all be fine. And following on from that point:

  • Find time/a way to take a shower every day. This was another epiphany for me. It would sound like a basic human right, I know, but not for a mother of a newborn. I went for more than 24 hours without a shower and when you have sticky toddler fingers all over you, and you’re being drooled on and sneezed on and spewed on all day, a hot shower is HEAVEN. So I felt like a new woman after having one and I resolved to ensure I manage a shower in the first half of the day, every day. Even when I get spewed on almost instantly afterwards, I still feel better for having had that hot water rush over my face. 

  • Breakfast television is SO bad it’s almost good. And the hosts are invariably, female: over-coiffured airheads, male: dumb but funny. I love watching the male hosts pretend to be interested in the latest fashion trends, tummy controlling shapewear and age-defying make-up. The best ones manage to do it with a cheeky, tongue in cheek irony  - as in “How fascinating?!”

That is enough words of wisdom for this post. I’m off to take a shower.

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