2018 was a big, big year.
John turned 40, we moved out and rented a house 10 mins up the road at 6 months pregnant, did a double story house extension, had a (slightly) premature baby that made her worldly appearance while we were on a 3 night mini break in Norfolk that we hadn’t packed a babygro for, navigating a marriage with a mini plus one, coming to terms with having a poorly mum at a time when I’ve been learning the brand new role as mummy myself; a role with no job spec, the longest hours, terrible pay and a boss who can only babble and tends to poo herself a lot, often in public. We became godparents. And other stuff you know? Friends going through really tough times.
On the motherhood front, I am still blurry about those initial days of being a brand new mum, in awe of my husband as he largely took control. But I’ve grown into my new job, I mean all new jobs are tough at first right? I’ve negotiated the *fucking* buggy raincovers in the pissing rain, sat under swaying trees with her on hot summers days while she napped, breastfed while watching the food delivery frozen bits thaw out on the kitchen floor wishing I could just split in two just for 5 minutes to sort those out. I’ve put myself last a lot. Suffered with an aching body I can only imagine what a 90 year old must feel like, welcomed the unwelcome endometriosis back into my life. I’ve battled with breastfeeding, feeling inadequate, bleeding and cracking. I’ve triumphed by finding peace in combi feeding up until almost 6 months of baby’s life. I’ve been stricken and terrified back when she was born (almost a month prematurely) that I’d do something wrong. I’ve been panicked when hubs would leave us for extended periods of time to go do his job or the extension project. I’ve been deeply lonely at times and have cried more than ever before, out of hormonal turbulence and utter joy in equal measure.
Yet, it’s the best job in the world, no contest. Apart from the bits where you cry in desperation at 4am because you don’t have all the answers and your hormones are on overdrive and you’ve literally forgotten what sleep is (this is not an over exaggeration) and you don’t know how in Christ’s name you are functioning. But you are. Yes, we tend to blot those bits out along the way as no one wants to see those and they’re mega and overwhelming and scary and confronting. Yet they always pale in comparison to the highs, the many many heart bursting highs. Each and every time. That only ever seem to get stronger as baby grows.
Importantly I’ve sought advice from some very special ladies in my life when it comes to motherhood – Pye, I’m looking at you A LOT – and I’ve been learning to trust myself more and more along the way. And now I can say that I am proud of myself. As I watch baby munch on a whole banana or play with runny porridge between her fingers, as she recognises when I am smiling so smiles back or when she determinedly tries to scoot her legs under her arse to try this crawling thing. I am doing my best.
One key thing I’ve learned about being a mummy is that I’m not alone. And by that I mean, baby and I are a team. Her and I. The bond is so strong and we’re figuring it out together. Sometimes I fall short, sometimes she is a complete pissing puzzle and when those two scenarios collide we’re in for a tough day and it’s just best to surrender to that and take the pressure off. But on the more plentiful days where we click, we are next level awesomeness. And when in doubt, you just dance like a loon in front of her to get a smile.
Usually, now we’re at the almost 8 month mark, my day begins around 7.30am when she wakes and ends with me falling in a heap on to the sofa about 9pm when I’ve eaten, sterilised everything, meal prepped (for baby), cleaned, hung washing, put washing on, cleared the aftermath of her bedtime bath and shuffled around putting *things* away. They’re long days and I’m one of the lucky ones who has a baby that sleeps soundly overnight.
It’s hard on a marriage when a baby comes along, for some more so than others I would guess. John and I are finding our way with our new roles. I was discussing this with a friend last week actually, and she made a very valid point that role expectations these days just aren’t clear. As gender equality is a hot topic, as women work just as hard as men in certain disciplines and often earn similar amounts, we don’t know our roles when it comes to parenting as clearly these days. It’s not as defined as it once was: woman = home and mother, man = security and money. Of course mummy is the key caregiver to baby for a certain time not least if baby is exclusively breastfed. So where does daddy fit in? Is it really just in the practical providing of stuff or is there a place in the day to own something with baby or to tackle as a team; bathing, feeding, going to classes, sterilising, arse wiping, adventuring? I don’t have the answers but I would put out there that a mum needs a break. Regularly. Be it an hour alone, half a day out or 10 minutes on the sofa to drink a hot drink. While it’s still hot. We need to remember who we are as too often as a new mum you will look in the mirror at your body, face, hair (including the new hair that might be sprouting from your chin…or so I hear) that may now be totally unrecognisable and feel a huge sense of feeling lost, undesirable. A bit of a mystery.
New mums need hugs, ‘how are you?’s, encouragement, accompaniment, a listening ear, others to take charge of plans, time to do some research, strong hands placed on our backs when we feel unsteady and uncertain, more ‘I’ll do it’s’, and baths. At one point I felt like I would never have a relaxing bath again. So weird. And the list isn’t aimed at just the dads or partners. We need the village. Where is the village they speak of?!
Maternity leave is NOT A HOLIDAY. Not even a self catering one. The Instagram showreel might suggest that but it’s tough. Truly. And as I often tearfully now consider what to do next about going back to work, making it work for me and baby as the number one priority (like will I now be just half good at both of my roles?), finding childcare without vomiting and savouring the last few months before all that becomes a reality, I really do – in a non religious way – count my blessings.
My mum is going through something really tough and it’s heartbreaking to see. She has been diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) which is a neurological disorder with no cure or even treatment. Never heard of it right? So my role as daughter really needs to step up a level over this coming year, to her and my dad.
For now though, let’s see out 2018 however we bloody well want to (we’ll be on the sofa watching an old flick, possibly with a takeaway, in mismatched PJs and i’d like to be in bed by 10.30pm thanks).
Here’s a collection of pics from our 2018. Bring on the next one. Year, not baby. Steady on yeah.
Extra special thank you hubs for supporting us and building us a house 🙂 x