When Anna was three weeks old Leo went back to work and I was at home, very tired and quite unsure of myself, with this little nugget to look after. I also had a PhD to finish. Determined as ever, I tried to cultivate some sort of positive practice around it. Anna didn't nap anywhere but on me in those days, so, armed with a breastfeeding pillow I could strategically lie her on, she alternated between feeds and sleeps on the pillow that lay on my lap. I sat, blind and confused, trying to start writing a chapter. I was tired beyond words and still feeling wounded and worse for ware from the delivery.
When she woke every twenty minutes or so I took a break from the chaos on the screen and just scrolled through the internet, or wrote blog posts that were so cathartic. I ate a lot of bread and biscuits because my body was depleted and I craved sugar and carbs all the time. We developed a nice rhythm in those days, and I managed to do my best written work on an uncomfortable IKEA foldable chair with the baby on me.
In those first few weeks I didn't know how I was going to do it, and honestly I probably shouldn't have. I should have slept and rested and sat quietly. Next baby, I will. As a new mother, my motivation and drive to challenge myself were quite intense, we travelled to so many countries in those first few months, I spoke at conferences and wrote and visited people and I managed to do it all with a pelvic prolapse (don't underestimate your pelvic floor health, folks) and a baby that puked and boobed around the clock. I don't think it's the smart thing to do, to push yourself so hard, but reflecting on it now I am proud of myself.
Here I am, 14 months later. Same chair, same coffee, same laptop (although Anna broke the hinge on it sometime between then and now). I've finally managed to complete that damn thesis and handed it in, and while I wait for my Viva in September I'm back in the uncertain, muddy time of in-between. Anna isn't here now, she's gone to a minders because that little girl doesn't even want to sit on a lap anymore, let alone sleep there. She's grown into this spirited and rowdy little one, and I've managed to finish something that I'm quite proud of, and help a little girl grow out of her newborn self into a wonderful rambunctious toddler.
Sitting here feels like starting over all over again but also familiar and sort-of heartbreaking at the same time. It's time to begin my job-hunting spreadsheet. Thanks for reading, lovely people xo.