My son is five weeks old today. He is currently indulging in a rare nap so I sit writing this hastily. Hastily is my go to adjective these days. I do most things in hast…and on tiptoes. Things that I used to, in hindsight, spend an overindulgent amount of time doing. Things like eating or showering or y’know sleeping.
I spend the majority of my waking hours (Are there any other type of hours with a baby?), manoeuvring gently around a moses basket like my son is a land mine. A land mine that has the potential to explode into shits or dribbles.
FYI there is nothing funnier than my month old son and the face he pulls when he poops. The concentration and effort he puts into filling his nappy is like he’s filling in a tax return.
My son is the reason I can’t remember the last time I shaved my legs, he is the reason my mascara might as well be covered in cobwebs, he is the architect of my exhaustion and well, he is absolutely bloody brilliant.
Motherhood is relentless. It is all consuming. It is being repeatedly punched in the face with feelings. Seriously, I’m so full of new feelings, I am a walking emoji of a woman.
This first month has been a Rocky style montage of sore nipples, bleary eyes, crying, laughing, endless white washes and kit kats.
There was a time my husband and I would get excited by a good bottle of wine and now we high five over a good wind. My son’s burps have replaced Breaking Bad in our household for entertainment and suspense.
I have a confession about motherhood.
I was naive. I admit it. I had NO IDEA.
Friends who are parents warned me. They told me it would completely change my life. That nothing in the world prepares you for having a baby. I would nod, roll my eyes and think, yeah that is YOUR experience but it won’t be MY experience. Eugh, I’m an idiot. I’m a hedgehog who decides to cross the M6 even when all the other animals in Farthing wood are like…DUDE, A ROADS!
I have a confession about breastfeeding.
I was naive. I admit it. I had NO IDEA.
Friends who are parents warned me. They told me it was difficult. I would nod, roll my eyes and think of myself jumping out of a plane, absailing, kayaking but all while breast-feeding. Like a Tampax advert but with my son firmly and happily attached to my nipple. You just pop the baby on and away you parachute? Right? Wrong. Breastfeeding is one of the most emotionally exhausting things I’ve ever done.
I have an incredibly hungry baby. When he doesn’t latch onto me properly he starts screaming and snarling into my boobs. Basically exactly how I behave at an all you can eat buffet if they run out of puddings.
In the first couple of weeks breastfeeding would end up with me and my son both looking at each other, with pleading tear stained faces.
The pressure that Mothers feel under is unbelievable. And we totally do it to ourselves. Especially new Mums because we are learning on the job. There is no basic training and there is conflicting and contradictory advice from everywhere and everyone. From midwives, other parents, books, the internet. In those first couple of weeks I was just trying to keep my tiny human alive as well as I could without my head or stitches exploding.
I felt like I was forever letting my son down. I’m not doing this right, I’m not doing that right. Every sentence to my husband began with the words “Should we…?”
It’s ridiculous really. How can I let a week old baby down? Remember, I’m catholic. There is a very fine line between love and guilt.
I’ve never loved anything as much as I love my little boy. Not even Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Can you love something too much? I think I may love him too much. Look, I’m worried I love him too much. Like Norma Bates too much.
Do you know what love is? Love is your husband mopping up your son’s excessive wee whilst you cry with laughter. Put THAT illustration on a Valentines Day card, Hallmark.
In the days after our son’s birth my heart seemed to expand as our family had expanded. Watching the man you adore being that Dad you always DREAMED you would have a child with, is pretty much a love overdose.
I just cannot get enough of my little boy. He is a little baby shaped drug. Which is weird because the only other thing that I’ve enjoyed as much as motherhood that wouldn’t let me sleep is cocaine and I won’t be doing that ever again. I don’t think parents should do drugs, it’s just too weird.
Alcohol is an acceptable drug, hell for parents Shiraz should be on prescription. I’m talking proper drugs, look all I’m saying is if you are snorting ketamine off A hungry, hungry caterpillar book it’s about time you knocked class As on the head.
Whilst I’m on the topic of drugs. The birth.
*TRIGGER WARNING* If you are pregnant maybe don’t read this. It’s my birth story in widescreen glorious technicolour. All I’m saying is…shit gets real.
I kinda wish I’d had drugs. All of the drugs. Straight into my eyeballs.
My son was twelve days late and then he point blank refused to exit my womb quietly. He had to be dragged out of my vagina by forceps. If that’s how he was born imagine the lengths I’m going to have to go to get him out of bed for school in the morning when he is a teenager.
The morning I went into labour I was booked in to be induced. Six in the morning I started having contractions. They were three minutes apart. Yep, three minutes. At this point me and my husband were like, YES! This is gonna be a mega quick birth. At this rate we’ll be done, dusted and at home in time for The Great British Bake Off.
Nope didn’t happen. It was sixteen hours, my very nice midwife informed me that, that was actually quite quick. She said this at the same time a doctor was between my thighs stitching parts of my bottom half back up together. I’ve never wanted to headbutt a woman before and I might have done, had there not been a doctor between my thighs playing the board game operation precariously close to my labia.
Having been through the quite frankly, agonising pain of childbirth I finally get why all of those Mums and Dads would spill out their birthing stories to me when I was pregnant. I get the, at times, totes inapprops oversharing now.
Now I want to overshare. My birth story is my medal of honour. My battle scar. I am no longer mere mortal. I earned the right to tell my story. I EARNED THIS.
The first six hours of the birth I did just breathing. I read two hypnobirthing books. I practised visualisation and breathing exercises and it worked. For a bit. Look all you lovely hypnobirthing converts, the visualisation and breathing exercises are great untill your contractions are so painful they cause your body to vomit and wee itself continuously at the same time.
Do you know what love is? Love is your husband mopping up your piss whilst you cry and vomit all over yourself. Put THAT illustration on a Valentines Day card, Hallmark.
Then I went for the gas and air. If I could illustrate those first few puffs for you, it would be the numbskulls from the Beano at the best rave ever. I remember thinking, well now this will be a BREEZE. I love this tiny canister. This tiny canister makes everything seem softer and better.
I did the rest of it on gas and air. Even when I thought the pain was actually going to make me push myself inside out. I said no to drugs.
I suppose it was pride. I suppose I wanted to be that woman who did it without drugs. I wanted to be that woman who was brave and courageous because I don’t particularly consider myself a brave and courageous woman. I suppose I put pressure on myself to be a hero.
That idea that I was brave and courageous because I turned down drugs is insulting. No womans birth is easy. No womans birth is perfect. Guess what?
WE ARE ALL FUCKING HEROES.
Also I did ask for drugs at about hour thirteen. It is the last thing I clearly remember. I looked up at my husband and midwife, weeping and whimpered “I don’t think I can do this anymore I think I need drugs.”
By this point I was eight centimetres dilated. And the incredibly upbeat and musical theatre like way my midwife said the words ‘eight centimetres’ filled me with hope that it would soon be over. And hope that she would break into song. (Actually, that was probably the gas and air).
Ah stupid, stupid hope. The rest and final bit of the birth is a blurry Rocky montage of heart monitor beeps, needles, fear as a parade of hospital staff clustered around my bedside and my husband’s strong hand in mine telling me to look just at him, telling me that everything would be okay.
And it was.
Strangely my son came into this world the same way his Mother did. With the cord wrapped round his neck. So basically he came into this world to an audience with dramatic flair. Maybe he’ll be a comedian. Although his Dad is really hoping he will be an accountant and do our tax returns.
My son is the reason I can’t remember the pain anymore, he is the reason my vagina might as well be covered in cobwebs, he is the architect of my stretch marks and well, he is absolutely bloody brilliant.
Next time I have a baby I’m thinking I may have all of the drugs. I’ll be the one in the maternity ward with the hungry, hungry caterpillar book…
And even if I did have all of the drugs or even if I give up breastfeeding tomorrow or even if I self medicate extreme exhaustion with a glass of shiraz and kit kats, guess what? I’m still a hero.
All us Mums are.
*CUE ROCKY STYLE MONTAGE*