Thursday, 25 August 2016

Tough Times, Baby

Having written a post all about the wonders of having a newborn baby, in the interest of providing balanced coverage (not least to my future self), it seems like a good idea to take a look over the challenges too. So here goes:

- For the first couple of weeks, your body is a wreck. I was looking forward to wearing normal clothes again, but in fact spent the first couple of weeks in tracksuit bottoms (soft and stretchy where you need them to be), cheapo vest tops (sore breasts and milk leaking everywhere) and my most ancient knickers (I knew you bled after giving birth but nobody told me how long it went on for!). I was expecting to be sleep-deprived, but wasn't really prepared for the physical exhaustion which followed the birth itself. The first time I went out myself, I walked 5 minutes to the supermarket, picked up too many heavy things in the fruit and veg aisle and had to call UFM to send his parents (who luckily were staying with us at the time) to help me carry the bag back. I think it took around 3 weeks for me to start feeling ok again,but I'm definitely not back to my normal fitness even now.

- Every trip out is an expedition, and sometimes also an ordeal. In Paris, it's pretty difficult to go to many places with a buggy, so until we got sorted with using the sling my main trips out alone were walks around the block. Also, with tiny babies, you never know when they're going to wake up and be hungry, so you can find yourself with a crying infant in all sorts of awkward places. My worst experiences were definitely medical appointments (of which there are a lot). You have no choice about the timing and can't be late, and Super Cool Baby was more like Stressed-out Crying Baby through most of ours, making it very hard to listen to the doctors and take on information.

- The Witching Hour. This is a common phenomenon where the baby cries unconsolably, usually some time between 7 and 11pm (and often for more than an hour). You can theorise about whether it's caused by gas, colic or releasing the stress of the day, but whatever the reason, there's no magic solution. (There are techniques which can help, but none of them is fail-safe.) The witching hour started for us at around 4 weeks. Since about 8 weeks, it's been shorter, less dramatic and less frequent, and we're really hoping that SCB got the memo that it's supposed to stop around 3 months!

- Your hormones are all over the place. Apart from one occasion when I burst into tears over a political debate at dinner time, I felt emotionally normal through most of pregnancy. Since the baby was born, however, I've definitely been more up-and-down and have to engage my rational brain to avoid behaving like a moody teenager at times.

- It can feel lonely. When people talked about this before, I thought they meant being stuck at home all day and lacking company, but between visitors, Skype and social media, that hasn't really been a problem. The loneliness I've experienced comes from a deeper place, from the feelings of bonding I have with the baby, and the realisation that nobody in the world, not even my husband, has quite the same bond. This is in no way a criticism of him: we have a very equal partnership and he's a fantastic dad, but his relationship with the baby, although just as important, isn't the same. (If it were, it probably wouldn't be a good thing.) And of course, the other person involved (the baby herself) isn't exactly a reciprocal partner. This is without a doubt the hardest thing I've experienced about being a mother so far, so in the spirit of sharing experience, I thought I'd better put it out there.


  1. Joy of joys!! Nonetheless, I still can't wait to be able to start recovering. Start losing weight. My chins disgust me.

    1. After all you've been through, recovery will be all the sweeter! Don't be too hard on yourself if it takes time though - I find that getting out of the house is important, but being superfit can wait!