Warning: This post is super-duper long. I wrote it like forever-and-a-year ago, and have kept trying to shorten it for better blog/reader consumption. So much so, that I’ve actually removed quite a bit of the detail that might explain just how redbull intense our situation was. But its still long. So, grab a cuppa and settle in for a read.
For four months I felt the wrath of that fury. Very very acutely. As tiny as she was, beasty number two had me whipped.
Her cry didnt help much either – she had some other worldly sort of cry. You know, the kind of cry that eats your soul. Seriously. Banshee from day one. Which was quite suprising as madam Parker-Grace was a hypnobirthing baby – you know, all calm and stuff. Well aparently not her- rebel from the start, that one.I should’ve known I was in for a different kind of ride this time.
I gotta be honest, baby number two was totally kicking my ass. It may have taken me a week or so to realise that, but when I did, I realised just how utterly spectacular that ass kicking was.
Dont get me wrong, though,baby number one also handed out spectacular kickings of my ass – I mean, dont they all, right?. But this one. Ohhh, this one….and that cry. Oh, boy. I tried to convince myself that as a second time mom, “I got this”. But I soooo didn’t.
Yeah, sure, to some extent there was that lovely sense of ease that you know what you’re doing second time around. I mean, the first kid is still alive right?! You’re still alive (well, mostly). So,well done, mama! Its in the bag! You’re not a rookie anymore…Or so you tell yourself, as you fall for that wonderfully false sense of security.
And by “you”, I mean “me”.
Just when I thought all was going well, life started dropping little bombs along the way to let me know our personal little Hiroshima was on its way.
I mean there was the beautiful peaceful birth, everything wonderful and blessed..you know, unicorns and rainbows kinda stuff. Breastfeeding was going off well, until day three rolled around, and I could feel the little threads of our beautifully woven picture starting to snap under the building tension. Latch issues were starting to raise their ugly heads, and then Parker ending up having slight jaundice. So whilst “slight jaundice” is not the end of the world, this was all new territory for me – for us- and it already off threw me kilter.
Her nose was only a slightly bit yellow, so no need for panic stations, right?But I could already feel my body going into a state of armegendon. Which was a little odd for me, as Im a pretty level headed person in most situations.(well, some, at least.) It was as if my body could already sense that the quiet before the storm was soon coming to an abrupt end.
So no matter how much I tried to talk my body down, like “hey Body, we got this! Please relax your shoulder hunch of stress and unclench your fists of steel. Its, ok! We’ll simply find out the extent of the problem and then the solution. Jaundice-schmaundice!See? “ But my body, she was running off into the crazy hills already like…
Fortuntely, in those first two days in hospital, the head nurse and I had made a good connection, so I knew I could get frank answers from her. So thankfully, after a slight bit of jaundice drama with the doctors,(where I may or may not have growled at a newbie doctor) we were sent home only an hour later than planned. Miss Parker-Grace was sent home with strict instructions for a few home tanning sessions a few times a day,for the first week. Nekid in the sun? Pretend we’re at Sandy Bay? Alright! I could think of worse antidotes!
And with that I managed to convince my body that we were back on track for silver linings- she(my body) relunctantly came back from the crazy hills, but not yet fully convinced. And rightfully so: The first night home with baby was about to roll around, and I didn’t tell her squat!
Ahh, yes, that fateful first night that all moms and dads know about so well. I swear, deep down I had hoped this time it’d be different. You know, experience and all- but screw that! It seems that it’s a universal law that your first night back home with baby is when the wheels start to come off.. Whether its flying, or slowly buckling one at atime, whatever, they come off!
Our first night home with Parx was no different. The fact that every mom struggles like this, whilst so true, unfortunately did not bring a single bit of comfort or serve an inch of help for me. Seriously. Yes, we all find it difficult; But can I tell you this: Just because its common place, doesn’t make what you’re going through any less difficult. Or any less challenging, or any less self-questionng or sometimes even soul crushing. At least, not for us. And if you feel that, that applies to you too, then know that I hear you. I feel you. And, you know what? It’s also ok not to be comforted by that either. I didn’t want comfort then. All I wanted then were solutions! Help me fix this shit!
Unfortunately with newborns, most things don’t have a quick fix. (Sorry, but t’is true) There’s only time, the bending and moulding of a woman and the slow and tender emergence of a new mother. Here is one place you have very very little control over much. Especially in the early stages of baby. And if you’ve ever struggled with relinquishing control, and giving in to the natural rhythms of the universe, BOY, are you going to have a hard lesson in just that. Babies, and children by extension, are such excellent teachers of life. In fact, they tend to teach us some of the hardest lessons we’ll ever learn, and heal the greatest wounds we sometimes didn’t even know we had.
But I digress. Where were we? Ah, yes, wheels. Flying off!
As time rolled on, my easy-going sleepy baby was becoming the typical sleep thief and greatest mystery to solve(as they do), all in less than four days.In fact, so much happened in those first six days, but to cut a long story short, the resulting effect was the red eyed monster of mastitis paid me a visit. And it, honest to God, was the most intensely painful experience I have EVER had in my entire life – and I’ve been in some doozy accidents already. Mastitis is certainly not something I’d wish upon anyone, and it unfortunately became the nexus of all the other crap that came flying our way on this newborn journey:
Now, if you’ve ever read my posts about milk supply (here, here and here), you’d pick up that I’ve been through the milky mill already. Ive been there done that, got the t-shirt, used the t-shirt to wipe up spitup. Right. But this time, I had like zero milk. Mastitis did such a number on me that I wasn’t tryin to UP my supply, I was trying to get back in its entirety!!
I had nothing.Nada. Zip! And I remember very clearly that I had nothing because of the slightly overly dramatic scene that played out with my mom walking into my bedroom after getting an SOS call from Mike that he’s on his was to pick her up, cause we’re in “code red territory” now. She walked in to find me slumped over my breastpump on the floor, in a heap of self-sorriness and snot, tears rolling down my cheeks and all over the pump- all I could mutter out under my breath was “I’ve got no more milk”. I had just been through quite a physically traumatic experience- too much for this post and one that’s probably best kept for another time.It had psychologically knocked me for a six. But I triumphantly rised above it, doing like the breastfeeding version of Rocky Balboa..complete with music.(in my head)…So even after that, I had made up my mind that I was still going to breastfeed my child. Now all I needed, was milk!(Doh!)
After much too’ing and fro’ing, and calling up all the experts I could find on Google, all seemed to point in one direction: the only way to get my milk back was with skin to skin. So for four straight days of skin to skin, I committed myself to the process. This was pretty killer and not for the faint hearted. Dont let the laid-back positioning fool you here. There’s no going halfsies on this, you’ve gotta do it properly or not bother at all. (unfortunately. And thats not me trying to be badass or anything, thats just how this skin to skin mechanism works.) Anyone who knows me well, knows that I don’t do half assed jobs.If its something worth doing, then its worth doing right. I go a bit balls to wall then. And this for me, this was was so very worth doing.
So laid back mothering became my thing this time round, even though it didn’t fit well with me with the first kid. Mostly, I suppose, because I didn’t understand it so well back then, but this time I was all in. I spent every waking hour with her in my arms- and I didnt sleep in those four days, so it was EVERY hour, all hours! Skin to skin, with blankets wrapped around us like a cacoon,protecting us from the chilly Spring weather. Like I said, balls to the freakin wall. I was lay-backing it up so much so, that when I did manage to get up from there, with baby still in my arms, I actually couldn’t get up at all! In fact I couldn’t move, because my whole lower body was fast asleep. Oh great! Laid back mothering: you’re doing it wrong! (LOL)
But by end of day one my milk started to come…And by day two there was even greater promise. My milk WAS coming back!! So I wasn’t doing it all wrong,right?! I suppose so. We were back in the milk business again.So, yay. Yes, yay, except now baby had grown accustomed to the fact that that is where she now lived: on my chest and no further. Not daddy’s chest. Not even grandma’s chest. Hells bells, even nappy changes became an issue for her- like why am I not right upgainst mommy, melting into her?!Can you not change my nappy whilst Im still plastered against you?! what kind of a mother are you!? Activate state of armegedon cries.
Despite this, I was still celebrating the return of milk to my chesticles! Like, could I please get a(nother) high 5!? Anyone?! Taps on back, knuckles, chest bumps -whatever celebratory act you got, I’ll take it. I had overcome a helluva load of hurdles and obstacles both physical and mental, all on exactly zero sleep, to get there. So I felt it was all pretty well-deserved self-celebration…That is until I needed to go to the loo…
I’d like to say that my one-arm toileting skill was perfected in this time, through my little one’s rigourous insistance, but I’d be lying. If you’ve never attempted it, and I hope you never have to, let me tell you now that it just doesn’t work well, and its actually just quite ridiculous to expect anyone to do that. But so was my little one’s attachment to me. It was redonkulous, in fact! And if u think Im exaggerating about her extreme clinginess, go ask anyone in that house who witnessed it. It was truly baffling. (to us at least)
No one could take her away from me, not even touch her, you know, jusssst in case they get the thought of picking her up. In fact, as my mom(who is like a baby whisperer) and many other visitors later learnt, you couldn’t even LOOK at her without inviting her bellowing screams. (How does something so small even manage a sonic boom?!) Even in her deepest of sleep cycles, the moment she felt any possibility or hint of her being lifted up and away from me, it would soon be followed by overly dramatic screams of blue murder from her tiny yet powerful little throat.
In the cases where there was no choice but to go to someone else, like say when I showered, she’d scream bitterly and often turn blue in the face right up until the time I stumble out of my 5 second shower, wrap a towel around me in record time and sweep her out of the apparent villain’s arms. Within seconds of that she’d be calm and chilling in my arms, like she did not just call upon the gods of wrath and summon the Kraken a few seconds ago. And there’s me, dripping all over the bed, wondering if I’ll ever get dressed again by myself in this life again.
Normally the-would-be-villain (Dad)would help me get dressed in these cases. But after those screams, most would-be-villains need a timeout to regroup and convince themselves that they really are not a bad person, as the screams would otherwise suggest. Yup, her screams had that effect!
Then there were those extremely rare times that I did manage to time it right to slowly and pain-stakingly transfer her from my chest to her sleep nest with the silence of a ninja and the precision of a brain surgeon. We called this move, the transfer. This also involved meticulous timing of her sleep cycles, because if you do it too soon, young Padawon, then you’ll have to start from the top…again! Also it involved a prayer…or ten! After the transfer, as I would tiptoe off for a much needed loo break, there would invariably be celebratory airpunches done in silence as I make my way to the loo. I get to pee, all by myself- YES!!!
But mostly, those celebrations didn’t last too long. The chill of her non-mommy-flesh blankets always alerted her to the fact that “warning, warning, mommy has abandoned you, sound the alarm!” I mean, really now, how dare I leave her there for my selfish lavatory needs, without even consulting with her first?! Gosh! Suddenly going to the loo, making myself something to eat, shower or do any of one of those usual daily tasks normal people do every day without a hitch, felt like the greatest feat I’d ever have to complete and plan around!
Don’t talk about sleep! Er-mah-gerd. The holy grail of parenthood!. Flip. This was truly another grand feat in itself. So, Im a terrible sleeper of note – and you would’ve picked that up from other posts of mine. Now add a baby that can ONLY sleep in my arms – not dad’s, not grandma’s, just mine- then add the fact that I cannot sleep WITH a baby, and you have quite a fine problem on your hands. I needed baby to sleep, so that she could function well. But I also needed sleep myself, so that I could function well, and thus baby would survive. But baby needs to sleep on me, and I need her to NOT sleep on me, to sleep. Arrrghhh!!! What a conundrum.
I dont think you’ll understand how much I wish that I could just be like those other moms who sleep with their kids. Seriously. Or sleep with their kids (or all 3) on their chest. All sound asleep and all happy. Like it aint no thang. Or a bed full of kids with mom and dad also nicely resting. Seriously,I wish that could be me. But such is my lot that I cant. I need complete silence and darkness. I mean geez, I cant even take a nap in the day unless Im like seriously ill – and then, Ive been known to stay awake, sans any caffeine. The added alertness that mother nature gives all new moms also didn’t help my sleep plight.
For the first four months of both my kids’ life, they slept in the bed with Mike and me – I always prefered it. But in that time, Im actually not sleeping much.(more like a few 10 minute naps through the night.) And when they are needing to sleep ON me, then Im not sleeping at all! Morgan-Lee as a baby, at least wasn’t too picky about who’s chest it was that she slept on, but Parker-Grace was very specific: it had to be mom. And if her screams didn’t tell you that, then at 9 weeks old, she actually started calling me and crying for “Ninny”! I shit you not. That kid spoke at 9 weeks. And called me “ninny” right up until about 8 months where she started to interchange “mama” with “ninny”. (Can you imagine how much more urgent everything in my life now suddenly became with that milestone of her’s? You’re about to butter your sandwich and now you hear Ninny being screamed as if its’ a matter of life or death – I dropped that freakin knife and ran everytime! (well,most days))
Crazy, right?! It sometimes really did feel like a bit of a crazy existence. In fact, all too often I would threaten that “Im going to run away and join the circus!” Circus life seemed far saner than the one I was living right then…But it didnt take long for me to realise that I already was a part of a circus. A crazy beautiful circus, and that cute little bundle was the ring master.
But that ringmaster was on me like glue, and had me whipped like no other. She had all of us whipped.
In fact, she was so stuck on me that I started to develop a weird rash on my chest. My neck and back was really starting to cave in. I mean lugging around baby 24/7 in my arms, hunched over to comfort fretting babies on one arm, whilst balancing a well-fed toddler on the other, and lets not forget laying in odd positions for two hours on end just so that I don’t wake the slumbering baby. Not to mention, playing with my rather patient toddler became so tricky. “Put Parky down, mom, and hold my hands”…#wishIcouldKid… And that’s where I started drawing the line.
In fact, I was so irritated with myself for allowing it to get to this point: why was I surcoming to this sense of victimhood. Like, why was I feeling so helpless? But its all part of the learning and growing process of motherhood. And I suppose sleep deprivation does tend to have that effect on you. Dont underestimae it. All logic sometimes tend to go out the window, or your ability to reason gets compromised. Sleep is magic stuff, yo! Newborns taught me just how magic! And also that not enough of it seems to be more of dark magic.
Then I remembered reading about all these baby wearing moms with my first child, but I never did get into it. But this time, I SO wanted a piece of that action! Do life handsfree with happy baby?! Yes please. So I used my last strand of well rested thought processes in my brain and amongst all the professionals I had make house calls to us, I called in the lovely lady from JumpLeapFly. This lovely lady taught me how to wrap baby, and opened a whole new world for me.
All of a sudden, I felt the equilibrium start to shift more in my favour. I could make myself something to eat, I could get all the pre-cooking work ready, going to the loo was a breeze and all of life’s simple tasks– all without my little beast releasing the Kraken. And don’t talk about playing with my toddler on my hands and knees, anywhere, any game, really became easy peezy – all while smally slept cosily in her wrap, right up against momma. Just where she wanted to be. My arms were no longer feeling like I just trained with the soldiers of 300. My neck and back could finally unkink themselves, and I could stand up straight without looking like Quasimodo.
Freakzoids, I even went to a party when baba wasnt even FOUR weeks old yet. I mean, a party, people! A freakin party. Happily chatting and socializing like someone who actually slept more than two minutes.Glass of white wine in the one hand, and gesticulating with the other in an overly animated conversation…because I could…I had my hands free, while my tiny little beast slept right up against me,through most of the party – save for two feedings. It could have been one of the most calmest newborn days of our lives – right there, in the midst of a party.
Im not even kidding about that. That day was the day it felt like I took the motherhood bull by the horns, along with whatever spikes it decided to grow along the way, and just tackle it. Whilst still managing to keep going with the newborn flow, and came up the victor!
I felt like a freakin warrior!A verrrry sleepy, leaky boob, oreo- and coffee-fueled warrior, yes..but still a warrior.
Sure, me showering was still a problem for my beasty –but that was nothing that couldnt be fixed with the usual crazy silly dance most moms do in the shower to entertain their baby thats propped in their bouncy seat,in front of the open shower door.
‘Cause, the thing is, with a simple mechanism of a baby wrap to deal with the demand, now in place, and the mental space now created by that very simple piece of cloth, I had the mental capacity to deal with so much more. It was like my logical aglity was no longer being stifled, and was now being given a breath of fresh air.
And the sleep? Well that’s definitely another blog post of its own- that’s the one thing that kept her “baby wrath” alive and kicking for me till four months of age, where I eventually did something to help both her and myself get some much needed sleep. But the small shifts that were made at the time had huge effects for all of us.
Leo Tolstoy: “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”
These small changes make the world of a difference, and I knew it was the upswing of that journey for us. And every mom has these moments. These moments of sheer triumph- that help us shift better into our new mommy skin…
It is pure joy for the soul when it happens.
And I promise you, new mom, it DOES happen!