I came to the realisation earlier today that I am coping with motherhood better than I was at the beginning. Nothing anyone can say or do can prepare you for what’s in store when you become a parent but I think it’s safe to say that we do get better at it as our babies get older. Until today I was still of the mindset that I was struggling and flying blind when in reality, not to blow my own horn but I am doing a good job. I guess the main reason for that is learning as I go, learning how to relax when situations arise and also just the fact that I’ve gotten to know my baby over the past ten months, I no longer think of him as this fragile tiny human and realise that he’s actually pretty robust and rightly so, we would have died out centuries ago if we weren’t!
When we first took Bubble home from the hospital I was filled with excitement and nerves. I was over being in hospital (we were there for a week) but also terrified of going it alone while my mother was at home sick and Zombie was at work. There were tears (from both of us), tantrums (from me) and more poo than I thought could fit inside such a small body. It was very daunting at first and I’m not ashamed to say that while I got through it all, I never once felt like I was coping or doing it right.
People tried to reassure me that I was doing fine, but they weren’t there in my dark moments when I was wondering if I’d made a mistake, wanting a break, feeling overwhelmed and experiencing cabin fever. They weren’t there when I placed Bubble on our bed and almost yelled at him ‘I don’t know what you want!!” after he had been crying for an entire evening when Zombie was out of action with an injury and unable to hold him for longer than a few minutes. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, but the emotions that ran through me in those times were all over the place.
I don’t know when things changed, but what I do know now is that when Bubble cried and fussed for hours the other day, after a night of minimal sleep for the whole family because he couldn’t settle due to how sick he was, is that I didn’t lose my cool. I was exhausted, yes. I found it hard, of course and on top of that I was worried sick about my poor wee guy, but I remained calm throughout the entire event, knowing that my role at that moment in my life was to just be there for him and do my best to make him as comfortable as possible.
I feel pretty stoked about this revelation. I feel like I’ve conquered a mountain that I was struggling to climb and now I’m sitting near the top and enjoying the view. Even though there’s a rough cold wind sometimes, I’m still able to enjoy the view and all the happiness it brings me. Bubble is still unwell, poor thing is in his first year of daycare and is currently catching every bug that floats around but I know that he is better off with me now, that I am doing a good job, staying calm, caring for him and showering him with love.
I’m a bit behind on this one but today I finally discovered the awesomeness that is Adult Colouring.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. When I first started showing signs of Post Partum Depression, Zombie decided that a colouring book was in order. So off we went to The Warehouse, returning with a colouring book and three packets of coloured pencils an an excitement within me that was quickly squashed by the fact that I was a busy new mother who’s favourite thing to do in her spare time was sleep.
After a few months of good intentions and occasional flicks through to choose a picture to colour, the book got pushed aside, out of sight, out of mind, never to be seen again.
Until yesterday, when after a tidy up I saw it again and thought to myself, it’s time. So today, once a still sick and miserable Bubble had been cuddled to sleep, I got the book and pencils out and coloured in some simple flowers.
It was relaxing and for a few glorious minutes my anxious mind, particularly agitated at the moment with worries about sick babies, was quiet. I don’t know if it was the focus needed or just the fact that I was taking a break for myself, but it really was like a calm washed over me and I still feel it now as I type this out.
It’s only my first picture since school, but I’m feeling like I might be addicted already so I’m off to colour in another picture before an early night.
When my wee man is unwell, all bets go out the window. Night time sleep becomes a distant memory. His smile becomes difficult to find, replaced by weeping and all out bawling. He wants to be cuddled, but he still wants to play and gets frustrated and confused when he can’t do both. He thrashes his little body around and moans because he doesn’t understand what is going on. He is almost impossible to settle, singing no longer works, rocking doesn’t help, the pram and the car may or may not work and if they do it’s only temporary.
As a parent this is hands down the worst and hardest part. You want to make your baby understand that they will be okay, that they just need to rest and that everything you do, wiping their tiny sore nose, rubbing their back and tummy, cuddling them tightly and trying to soothe them, trying to get them to eat and changing their clothes almost as fast as they can explode in them, all of it, is to help them and try to make them feel better.
Finally does settle and sleep, his cheeks flushed, mouth open with raspy breaths coming out slowly, his body relaxed but fists still clenched. The occasional whimper escapes as he rests his little head on my shoulder and I think to myself how grateful I am that he is usually a happy and healthy baby and that it won’t be long before he is happy and healthy and zooming round the house exploring his world again.
For the past few weekends Zombie and I have been sorting through all our excess stuff. Decluttering, sorting and being ruthless with what we get rid of. We’ve found boxes that haven’t been touched since before we moved in together, over four years ago. Not surprisingly I didn’t need to keep anything out of those boxes.
The thing I’ve been most blown away by is just how much stuff Bubble has accumulated in his short lifetime (and leading up to) particularly the fact that we could probably count the number of toys and clothes we’ve actually purchased on our hands. We have been blessed to be given no end of presents for the wee man, by family, friends of family, our friends and even our workplaces.
We didn’t ask for much of it (a few things we got in touch with Pregnancy Help for) and the sheer generosity of people has left me speechless more than once. Toys, clothes, handmade items, shoes, high chairs, prams, car seats, food, anything that Bubble may need or like.
Don’t worry, I’m not bragging. It was difficult for me to accept at first. We had chosen to bring this baby into the world and I felt that it was our responsibility to provide for them. I turned a lot of people who tried to offer us items for baby at first. But most of them didn’t listen to me and sent items or brought them round anyway.
I quickly learned that people were offering these things because they care about Bubble and myself and also for the hand me downs because they had no use for them themselves anymore and wanted them to go to a good home. It made me realize that one day I too will be in a position to give a special wee boy or girl some clothes or toys in the future, which I am looking forward to.
Being a working Mum there are a lot of things I miss out on when it comes to my son. He has an entire life that is separate from me at his daycare. He has friends. Friends who’s parents have nodded hello to me on the rare occasions that they’ve seen me. Friends who know me as ‘Bubbles Mum,’ who enjoy playing with him even though they are a few years older and he is just a baby.
He goes to kids music sessions without me and sometimes a farm park. He’s made friends with his caregiver’s puppy who is ten days older than him and they are practically inseparable. He watches the other children and mimics what they do. As a result I miss out on a lot of firsts.
It’s hard for me to be away from my son for over forty hours a week. He has his dad at home a lot but that just makes me miss being at home even more. Occasionally Zombie sends me photos and sometimes that makes it hard too.
It’s not all bad. I get adult conversation and a chance to have a break from nappies each day. Plus it makes me appreciate my time at home even more.
It’s the little things I appreciate the most. Bubble, super excited to see me home zooming his way over to me. The sleepy cuddles just before bedtime. The way he’s already chanting ‘mamamama’ more than any other sound he makes.
Something I want to do more of is story time. Bubble has trouble staying still which makes it difficult but sometimes, like tonight he makes it a thoroughly enjoyable experience, giggling at my animal noises and the different voices I put on and showing more of an interest in the pictures.
Story time makes me happy and Bubble seems to like it even when he’s being wriggly. It’s a wonderful perk of being a parent.