Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The one most important lesson I've learned about motherhood so far

I've been a mother for a grand total of 3 weeks and 4 days. So obviously that makes me some sort of expert. Ok, while I'm admittedly very new to this crazy life, I have had to do some major adjusting, as all new parents have to. It's been the fastest learning curve of my adult life. Having a newborn is really tiring, and, honestly, in those first few days, before they have any limb control, can't see or smell you properly, and aren't really reassured by you, it can be less-than-rewarding. All you have is the irrational love you feel, the hormones keeping you awake, and the expectations for the future.

I found myself losing my temper at night when I had to wake up, and my baby is actually really sound. She'll sleep for between 2 and 4 hours at a time at night. That's amazing, based on what I've read on The Google. She's generally really chilled out and accommodating. Right now she's sitting in her bouncer possetting gently all over her bib and making wonderful finding herself noises and chewing her hand. It'll probably be at least five minutes before I need to pick her up and give her cuddles again. That is amazing.

But it was tough, and I lost my temper frequently - at Leo, at the situation, at my own perceived failings. In those first few days I felt like Leo was a much better mother than me. The guy has boundless patience and never harbours resentment. I, on the other hand, was a Progesterone fulled monster, prone to bouts of tears that were not always 'isn't it so great that we did this' (although there were probably more happy tears than sad tears, such was the volume of happy tears I cried). 

I indulged myself and wallowed in the postpartum messiness for a bit longer than was probably fair, about two weeks. I gradually tried to integrate self-calming techniques into my habits so I would stop freaking out every time she puked on my top (about ten times a day, big deal, that's what wipes are for), or if her latch or the let-down was painful (in the early days I would grimaced, before I realised breathing in was a much better tactic than snapping at Leo).

I still lose it every now and then, especially when sleep has been minimal and it's late at night. I think fondly of the limitless naps of my pregnancy, being able to just lie there with nothing pending. But lately I've been reminding myself of one crucial thing, the point that makes all the tiredness and discomfort redundant.

She didn't ask for this.

My baby didn't ask to be brought into the world. And while I'm sure those 9 months in the womb were cushy beyond belief, coming out into all of this - learning to eat, use her lungs and grow her tummy and communicate, that's all hard work. Coupled with that, she can't see properly, tell us how she feels, or dictate anything about her environment. All she can do is cry and suck. So how could I hold her accountable? How could I be resentful of her waking up and wanting to be fed or cuddled? She can't help it if she pukes, her stomach is the size of a walnut. If she cries because she doesn't know what she wants, who I am to judge? 

I read a lot of online content where people complain about how tired they are, how frustrated they are with their baby's behaviour etc. I had my time to wallow, all 14 days of it, and I am so ready to cut my ties with that sort of thinking. It does no one any favours. Aside from those who have unplanned/unwanted pregnancies, the rest of us choose our path. We have months to mull it over, educate ourselves and prepare for the journey ahead. We go to classes, buy the little baby grows and get excited. We take pictures and savour the prospects. So I just remember that, when I'm feeling tired or low. I wanted this. I actively chose this. She didn't. She had no say in the matter. So my role now is to give her the best possible time I can before she can make choices for herself. Nothing more.

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