I cannot believe how time has flown baby girl – you have already been with us for three months!
Because all my expectations for maternity leave giving me hours a day to blog while my baby slept peacefully have gone right out of the window, this is only the third time I have been able to turn my laptop on since you were born. Motherhood has been the biggest rollercoaster adventure of my life! It has these incredible moments where you feel you could burst with happiness, but it also has times when you are rocking with your head in your hands (if you’re lucky enough to have your hands free of baby) wondering if you can really do this after all.
Recently, if I am honest, there have been more of the latter moments than the former as you have navigated your third developmental leap combined with your first cold. Oh, and deciding that daytime naps are for the weak, and you don’t need them anymore. Meaning you spend your days too tired to feed properly (coming on and off and generally making my nipples feel like they’re being electrocuted on the regular), but too hungry to sleep, with only minutes of happy smiles, usually on your changing table after a nappy change. But as I write this you are napping upstairs in your bed (not on me, for the first time!) and I am watching you sleep on the monitor, occasionally waving your tiny fists (your latest discovery – the most fascinating and tasty things ever apparently), and I am feeling like we might have turned a corner. Perhaps it is no coincidence that we are just leaving the fourth trimester – the period of adjustment that babies go through as they enter the world and start to become little people in their own right.
Because that’s how it goes – everything is a phase. The bad, and the good. When you were just days old we discovered you loved to have your face gently blown on and it stopped you crying and cheered you up straight away. I do that now, I just get a dirty look! You also loved to be rocked whilst lying back in my arms and that would soothe you – now you have to be upright on my shoulder or it doesn’t work. But that’s just this week, maybe next week you will like something else. I cannot believe how fast you are growing and changing, and with that the rules of motherhood seem to change daily too, and I’m just running like mad to keep up. I’ve been trying to get a routine in place, but no two days are ever the same. In fact, at 3 months we are only just getting into a routine these past few weeks, which I feel is a failure on our part – many of my Insta-friends who had babies at the same time have been in a great routine since 3 or 4 weeks, and seem to be so much more sorted than us. Maybe we should have tried harder, but I am trying to be philosophical about it and remind myself that you will literally have zero clue about what happened in this stage of your life in a few years’ time, so it really cannot be that important.
That’s kind of how I feel about all of it – despite reading all the books and downloading all the apps (looking at you, Wonder Weeks), I still really have no clue whether what I am doing is right, or if I am scarring you for life with some terrible parenting practice, but I am hoping that we’re giving you enough of the most important thing – love – that none of these things will really matter. As long as you are healthy and growing (and you are – you’ve outgrown some of your 3-6 month clothes already – you’re going to be tall like Daddy), we are doing a good job. You’re strong too – you’ve been holding your head up on your own for nearly two months now, and you can support your own weight on your legs for minutes at a time, and you love it. You’re rolling over and even trying to sit up, which looks hilarious – teeny tiny little ab crunches! I feel like you are very advanced for your age, since with each leap the developments that are supposed to occur seem to have been already happening for a while. But I am sure all parents think their baby is the prettiest and most clever. (But you are. Really).
The single biggest challenge of motherhood for me has been breastfeeding. In hospital it took a lot of false starts before one amazing midwife spent the day with me literally putting my nipple in your mouth and showing us both how to do it, and then we were off. In fact, for the first few weeks, I found it quite easy and was wondering what all the fuss was about, even managing to feed in public when you were just a week old. And then suddenly it wasn’t easy, it was excruciating. I think I was producing more than you could drink, and my ducts were solid and incredibly painful, and it made it tough for you to feed too, so you pulled and chomped on me trying to get enough. So my nipples became unbearably sore, to the point where I was probably one feed away from giving up. I cried when Ste turned to me and said you were hungry. But with the advice and help of a friend who is a breastfeeding consultant, we carried on, and it got better. And then you went through a phase of sucking for a bit and then screaming for a while, meaning feeds took hours and exhausted us both, and I got sore all over again and wanted to quit. But I gave expressing a go and that wasn’t much fun either, and I seemed to get hardly any, and not relishing the thought of being strapped to a pump all the time rather than snuggling my baby, I carried on, and it got better again, and so on. I would like to think we are nearing the point where we have it sussed and we won’t have any more blips, but who knows? And I’m not averse to bottle feeding if we have to – I would rather you are full and content than hungry and upset. Let’s see how it goes. But I do love our moments together in the wee hours of the morning, when it’s just us awake (along with all my new mum-friends on Twitter who have been a lifeline when things are tough), watching your little face as you happily suck away, and then eventually fall off, milk-drunk and blissed out. I have been so lucky that you only wake once a night to feed, and go straight back to sleep afterwards nearly every time, so I have been getting six to eight hours’ sleep most nights, with a one and a half to two hour feed in the middle. But even with all that sleep, I have never been so tired in my life. Everyone talks about baby-brain when you have a newborn, and I most definitely have it, but I think it is just sleep deprivation. If you never get more than four hours in one go, you never really recharge the batteries properly it seems. It’s okay though, as a few minutes of smiles from you make it all worth it.
I also hadn’t realised how physical a job motherhood is! I lie down at night and feel nearly every muscle in my body breathing a huge sigh of relief, especially my arms, shoulders and back from holding you and from breastfeeding, but also my knees and legs from hours of rocking and bouncing, and my hips from walking as they go back to their usual position. C-section recovery hasn’t been too bad, and apart from the odd pain in the scar, I’ve been fully recovered really (or feeling it anyway) since about 8 weeks after, though I do still struggle with long walks, but that is to be expected as my fitness levels dropped during pregnancy because 3 hour walks became pretty impossible! I’m back up to managing two hours now, but that does leave me exhausted. Which is probably the one word I would use to sum up the first three months of motherhood really – exhausted. But incredible. Okay, that’s two, forgive me, I’m tired!
In fact, on that note, I am off to join you in the bedroom for an afternoon nap, though I may end up just watching your beautiful little face as you sleep.
P.S. All photos snapped on my phone so apologies for quality!