If there’s anything I’ve learnt in the almost 3 weeks of being a mum, it’s that there are so many unknowns and things you just have to improvise and roll with.
Before I had Jenson, I had so many ideas about what I would be like as a parent…unfortunately this didn’t account for what he would be like as a baby and what I would be like as a Mum with the stark reality of him distressed and screaming in front of me. The strength of my urge to want to calm him down and take away his discomfort at any cost is unreal.
Here are some of my ‘what the hell?!’ moments from my first moments as a mum.
My good friend Jess gently told me during my pregnancy that perhaps my ideas about how I’d like my son to sleep (or how I’d like to parent him around sleeping) were not ones I’d have once he was in my arms. And she was right.
For one thing, a newborn baby doesn’t understand or rationalise sleeping. They just do what they do and sleep when they sleep.
For the first nights at home, I sat up awake until 4am with Jenson in my arms – the only way he would settle – and then I’d rouse Gregg who would take over for a few hours before waking me for a feed. It was brutal and I felt like a wreck. It was only when I started co-sleeping (following some great online resources about how to do it as safely as possible) that I was able to get some sleep and start to feel like a normal-ish person again.
I hope that Jenson will move into his own bed but am aware that it may take time and I’m ok with that.
Every parent I’ve spoken to has had a struggle of their own with their baby. For me, Gregg and Jenson, it was having his tongue-tie go untreated until he was almost 3 weeks old. Tongue-tie is a condition that restricts the tongue’s range of motion and it meant that Jenson was not getting enough milk when he was feeding and so was. I imagine, constantly hungry. This meant that he was a bit grouchy and wanted to feed whenever he wasn’t sleeping.
He’s also not the most contented of babies and cries a fair bit, especially when having his nappy changed and when he’s in his car seat – how he hates his car seat and car journeys! My visions of him lying contentedly in his own bed and being generally peaceful have not yet come to pass.
But then again, he’s a baby and is finding his feet in the world after 9 months of amniotic floating. So I think it’s normal.
It would be easy to think that we’re doing something wrong (I mean, maybe we are!) but actually, the most important thing I’ve found is to not compare myself with other parents, to focus instead on my son and to remember that everyone has their own difficulties with their baby. The tongue-tie and his crying are our difficulties and that’s ok.
Ok, Jenson is going to be mortified one day if he comes across this blog post, but there are so many things I wasn’t aware of with a baby that completely confound me or make me laugh…things I sort of wish I had known in advance (but am also happy that I had no clue about!).
Like how loud baby farts are – seriously, one was so loud it made Gregg jump.
Like how many times a day a baby poos. You just change him and then he goes and does another whopper. Where do they store it?!
Like all the strange names we call him – snufflepug, milky chops, grumbletumskin, Peanut, little babbitt…and the list goes on!
Like the strange things that will calm them down. For Jenson, you can stop a hysterical crying fit by putting the hairdryer on and pointing it in his direction (thanks Bekki for that recommendation!)
Like the things we find ourselves doing to calm him down – Gregg’s favourite move is lifting him into the air, Lion King style.
Like how we were willing to buy anything in the hope that it will make him calm in the car, willing to settle by himself for just 5 minutes.
Like how I am willing to whip my boobs out in public to feed Jenson without a second thought after being a prude for much of my life.
There have been so many ‘what the hell?!?’ moments in these first few weeks of Jenson’s life. But also so many moments of wonder and happiness. I wouldn’t give this experience up, regardless of all the ‘what the hell’ moments I find myself in.