A dirty nappy is my favourite thing in the day. There’s no second-guessing or Googling or disagreeing or wondering if you’re doing the right thing. It’s simple – get the nappy off, clean the bum, put a new nappy on. Ahhh, relaxing poo pants.
Of course, this is different for everyone – and indeed the woman in the room next to mine spent at least an hour screaming bloody murder – but my expectations of birth were low and I was pleasantly surprised. I slept through much of it thanks to drugs*, then when we couldn’t turn the baby from her weird shoulder-first position, they took me into theatre and hauled her out with forceps; I felt nothing.
Sometimes, when I’m unshowered and lugging my wailing 20lb puke factory around, I remember the lovely feeling of being wheeled into theatre in a sterile nightgown, being lifted by lots of gentle hands and then catheterised so I didn’t even have to wee. Happy days.
*Seriously, get the drugs.
When you go to a breastfeeding class, they like to extol the benefits of breastfeeding (fair enough) and make bottle feeding sound like a mug’s game.
‘All that fuss with bottles and sterilising!’ we all murmured, ‘And measuring out formula in the middle of the night – who could be bothered?’
So, with this in mind and because of the magical-unicorn-tears benefits of breastmilk, I worked hard at breastfeeding, even when it hospitalised us twice and I was getting up three times a night to pump milk while the baby slept through.
The week I switched to exclusive formula I realised everything was actually EASY. The baby did not get an ear infection and her bowels did not explode. Sterilising was just putting stuff in a box. If she needed feeding in the middle of the night (she never did), I could just bust out a pre-mixed carton like a spoiled middle class princess. EASY.
As an added bonus, it’s forced us to find solutions other than ‘Boob?’ to every little fuss she makes.
Also, underwire bras! And beer! And Nurofen! And going out ALL DAY!
Don’t be afraid of formula. It’s science’s gift to your sanity. And your nipples.
** I’ve already had messages from breastfeeding mums explaining that breastfeeding is more convenient than bottlefeeding which YES OF COURSE IT IS. I was just trying to explain that formula feeding isn’t the clusterfuck it’s made out to be. Okay! Let’s move on.
We’re very lucky not to have a colicky screamer, and frankly if we did I might be typing this from a silent mountaintop retreat in Nepal, but even when Ada does have bad days and nights, I find them easier to cope with than I expected.
I can usually figure out what’s wrong from the sound of her cry, then it’s just a case of Calpol-ing if needed and hugging it out. Hug and hug and rock and rock. It’s a privilege to rock another person to sleep, and to know that all they want is your arms. I’d hug those chubby chops forever! Unless I want a beer or Nurofen.
I was dreading the constant stream of unsolicited advice from random people or distant acquaintances, but generally I’ve found that I can shrug off the stuff that’s annoying.
Why don’t we just leave her to cry? Because boffins now tell us it’s healthier to comfort her. Also I don’t want to.
Why doesn’t she nap for longer? I don’t know, she just doesn’t.
Can’t you just leave her alone and get on with your chores? Yes, for the fifteen seconds it takes for her to vomit, poke herself in the eye, or get a toy stuck in her mouth. Have you ever MET a baby?
Won’t she sleep for longer in the car? No.
Won’t she sleep for longer in the pram? No. Nor in the sling nor in my arms nor on the roof nor on a Spam, Sam-I-Am. Mmmkay?
Shake it off, parents!
Mummy-Daddy hand off
‘Daddy will be able to help,’ warned one of my friends, ‘But mostly only Mummy will do.’ Which filled me with responsibility and dread.
But, for now, Ada seems to have no preference whatsoever for which one of us looks after her – I’m not sure if she even thinks of us as different people. Part of this is definitely because we share bottle feeding, and maybe part of it is because during those early rocky hospitalisations she was often cared for by Chris, but I don’t really mind why it’s happened.
I’ve been back to work for a day and out for a couple of dinners knowing that she’s fine and doesn’t even seem to know I’m gone. When I come back, you can see the surprise in her face – ‘Oh, it’s HER!’
I’m only ever slightly offended.
And six things that’ve been worse than I expected…
All the books told me she’d sleep for a couple of hours during the day. All the books lied.
I see now why crackpots found an excuse to avoid them – it’d certainly be easier than watching a bored nurse stick your innocent, trusting child with needle after needle. 😢
No mother, I don’t want any milk right now. Or ever.
Baby’s awake! Feed, change, wrestle into coat, wrestle into car seat, drive to a place, find a parking space, get out of car, set up pram STOP! TIME UP GO HOME FOR NEXT NAP NO SHE WON’T SLEEP IN THE CAR SMARTARSE OR SHE MIGHT BUT THEN WAKE UP AND SCREAM WHEN THE CAR STOPS ARGH
Staying in is always the more appealing option. Difficult difficult lemon difficult.
If you’re baffled when other mums use words like ‘joy’ and ‘thrilled’ and ‘I showered today’
And walk with crazy eye and clenched fist
If neither foes nor loving friends can make you sit down to eat
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of KitKats, weeping
Then you may have a postnatal illness, and you should see your doctor before you go completely bananas, my friend.
(If anyone else is struggling and would like to know more about the treatment for postnatal anxiety, DM or email and I’ll weird you right out! Xxx)