‘Ok you’re all good to go!’ said the midwife. We’d been waiting around for hours for all the necessary forms to be filled in and taking obligatory selfies with our new baby, but those words still came a bit out of the blue. Strapping Max into his new car seat took us 30 minutes!! We were so nervous that our minds had gone blank and we forgot everything the very thorough sales lady showed us when we purchased it. The fear set in then – if we couldn’t even manage to strap him in the car seat how on earth were we going to manage when we got home? Leaving the maternity ward felt a bit surreal, and I still can’t believe no one came and asked us if we knew what on earth we were doing?! We looked like total amateurs – and we were!
But despite being totally clueless we were also beyond excited to get home and start life as a proper little family of three – it’s the moment we’d waited five years for. People often say the first few weeks at home pass by in a blur, but I remember life with a newborn baby as if it were yesterday……..
I remember walking through the front door and immediately feeling different, odd even, everything had changed. Feeling SO tired and SO happy all at the same time. I remember greeting visitors, admiring the flowers and gifts and passing the baby around so everyone got a cuddle. Secretly wishing none of them were here, willing them to drink their tea and go home so I could learn to adjust to this new way of living.
I remember refusing to open the door to my midwife after our first night at home. Then finally calming down and letting her in, sobbing in her presence, sheer exhaustion getting the better of me.
I remember the precious baby smell, something I wish I could bottle and keep forever. The funny little faces he pulled when he had wind. I remember the rush of love I got whenever I looked into his dark brown eyes.
I remember looking like shit but feeling like some sort of superhero – still in shock at what my body had managed to achieve.
I remember taking my baby to see an osteopath, convinced that he was broken and begging her to fix him. Doing shifts in the night with my husband so we could take it in turns to sleep.
I remember the inflated boobs, leaking nipples and sea salt baths. Binge watching episodes of Big Brother, not wanting to go out and face the world. The carefully arranged cushions on the sofa that made it JUST about bearable to sit down – those damn stitches.
I remember willing him to stay a tiny baby forever. Feeling so proud that I could burst when a stranger commented on his cuteness. I remember the first bath we gave him, holding him like he was the most precious thing on earth.
I remember the reflux, the projectile vomit and the constant changes of puke covered baby grows. Buying every type of bottle and reflux remedy I could find. I remember feeling so lonely, even when I was surrounded by friendly faces. I remember feeling perplexed as to why anyone goes on to have more than one child?! Crazy fools!
I remember looking at my baby in his moses basket and not knowing what to do with him. I remember feeling scared and thinking… what happens if I can’t do this?
I don’t know how I would have coped if I had of been on my own. I would wake in the middle of the night and burst into floods of tears, even once punching the bedroom door through frustration and pure exhaustion. My husband was always there for me, taking over when my brain was full of baby induced paranoia.
I could no longer pop to the local shop to pick up some chocolate and a magazine with just my keys and handbag in tow. I had to learn to live again. Learn to put a new person’s needs before my own.
It took time, but I got there. The reflux subsided, the stitches dissolved, the sleepless nights turned into longer stretches of sleep. When you’re living those moments it seems like they’ll never end – but they do. Embrace what you can, where you can, and don’t feel bad for wishing some of it away – sleep deprivation can cause our brains to turn to mush.
And remember – if you’re still sitting in your PJ’s at 6pm having not left the house, surrounded by sicky muslins, half eaten toast and cold cups of tea – don’t feel like you’ve done ‘nothing’ all day. I’m betting your baby is clean, fed, warm and loved and that’s not nothing, it’s EVERYTHING.