The first year of my baby’s life? Completed it, mate. Maybe a bit of an odd thing to reference (The Inbetweeners, for those of you who aren’t in the know) when talking about E’s first year, but I’m going with it…
If I’m completely honest, this last year has been a massive blur. It’s very surreal becoming a parent. I remember bringing E home from the hospital and thinking, “what now? What do I do?” I hadn’t got a clue. It overwhelmed me. It’s all-consuming being a parent and I know now that I wasn’t prepared at all for what was in store for the first 365 days of E’s life. One thing I do remember on that first night at home, was my mother-in-law bringing round a lasagne and me eating it with tears streaming down my face because the pregnancy hormones in my body were leaving me all over the place. I cried when my brother and his family walked through the living room door to see the newborn E. I cried when I had to stand up and waddle to the toilet because it hurt so much to stand up (stitches after an episiotomy are not the one).
Then came the first night. I didn’t sleep one wink, but strangely, it flew by. I was sat at the foot of the bed sobbing, because E would wake and cry whenever I put her in the Next2Me. No one tells you that will happen. Your baby is just meant to go down in their cot/moses basket and sleep. Not sleep through on the first night, obviously, but sleep a little. So, I fed E, and cuddled her whilst I was sat upright in bed so she could sleep. My husband was laid asleep in bed and I was too scared to wake him, because he’d had so little sleep the night before in the horrifically uncomfortable chair in the hospital. I was freezing, I only had a nursing bra and shorts on, so I was worried that E was also too cold to sleep. That wasn’t it, she was (is) just a baby that likes to be held. She likes to be close to her mum. There’s nothing wrong with that, but no one tells you that either.
As the morning came, my husband woke up about 6am and held E whilst I collapsed at the bottom of the bed and they snuggled to sleep at the top. I only had about half an hour, and we ventured downstairs. This is where we started our month-long tradition (whilst J was on paternity leave) of watching the early morning teleshopping. We nearly bought a speedy slow cooker, a heater for our shed and a roller that paints all textures of walls perfectly. That’s what sleep-deprivation does to you. Pushes you to the point of delirium and you nearly purchase ridiculous items that you definitely do not need. We did withhold from buying anything, just in case you were wondering. Good job really, because I spent a fortune whilst on my phone during the multiple night feeds… Sorry, J!
Much of the next 3 months were a blur of Lansinoh, leaky boobs, hot cross buns for breakfast and tears. Lots of tears. From all of us. Mainly E & I though. It’s hard work, really hard. It does get easier, but honestly I didn’t believe it would. How could it? It’s hard battling through the sleep deprivation and people coming to cuddle E. I had to put on a brave face a lot, then bawl at my husband when people left. I don’t know how he got through it, I relied so heavily on him and it made me realise how brilliant he truly is. I couldn’t have ever dreamed of a better partner to tackle this with. That’s enough of that now, he reads my blog and I don’t want him to get big-headed.
After the fourth trimester, I did start to enjoy being a mum a bit more, but not much. And the guilt for not enjoying it started to monopolise my thoughts. It’s true, they aren’t little for long and I should have just embraced the cuddles, but I’m not a chill person. I’m a perpetual worrier. I was always worried E was broken; that what she was doing wasn’t normal; that I wasn’t doing it right. All the things most new mums think, but it really did take over my life. I still had anxiety if I took her out, because she hated being in the pram and would scream after 30 mins. So, I would never go out with her on my own. I still get that anxiety now, but I’m getting better at it.
The next nine months of E’s life were a mix of really high highs, and really low lows. I didn’t enjoy E’s first year as much as I should have and I really regret that. I still struggle to love every day (who doesn’t?), but it’s getting much easier to enjoy spending time with E. She’s becoming such a character. Watching her go from a little grub, to a baby who could hold her own head up, to a baby who could sit on her own, to a baby who could roll over, to a baby who could crawl, to a baby who can cruise along with her walker or on furniture is a journey I am incredibly proud to be a part of. I will always be there for my little girl, I just wish I could’ve seen what was in front of me in those earlier days.
I forever felt like a terrible mum. I didn’t make a note of every little thing E did; I could tell you rough dates, but not exact dates. Not because I didn’t love E, but because I’m the excitement and exhaustion, I just didn’t remember to. Does it matter, though, in the long run? Probably not. What matters is that I always kept going for E & J, even when I didn’t want to.
Looking back, I may well have had mild postnatal depression or anxiety, but I’ve come through the other side now (for the most part).
We’ve made it through the first year together; our little team. And now, I truly, truly love my little team. I believe it is the greatest one and I’m so lucky to have them.
Would I do things different, if I could start again? Absolutely! But at the time I was doing exactly what I thought I should be doing and really that’s all a baby needs.
Roll on the next year, I know it will still be hard, but I’m hoping I can let go of some of the things I can’t control and enjoy this year more than the last!