The baby chronicles #14: The buck stops here

I want to start this post with a disclaimer that it’s not a dig at Mr O or any of the other wonderful people who form the village that is raising Little O but rather an account of my experiences as I see them.

There are lots of incredibly special things about getting to be “mum”. It starts when you are pregnant and you get to be the one who grows the new little person inside your body, feels them move and bonds with them before they even reach the outside world. More often than not you are the first person who holds them, the one they reach to for for comfort and if you breastfeed the one who looks into their eyes as you feed them.

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It is also in the womb where the feeling of responsibility starts. As “mum” you are the one who must hold safe the new life inside you. It is you who must bring this person into the world through one of the most traumatic and intense processes both physically and emotionally than any human being can go through. They don’t call it labour for nothing. And I am yet to meet a single woman who has had a pregnancy and birth with absolutely no complications.

Now three months into “mummery” as I like to call it because parenthood sounds boring, I am realising that to a large extent the buck stops with mum. It doesn’t matter how devoted your partner is (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) or how vast and committed your support network is at the start at least, you are the centre of your baby’s life. This is even more evident if you are breastfeeding.

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It’s not ALL smiles around here!

Little O is exclusively breastfed and not at all interested in bottles. This means I must take him absolutely everywhere I go if I am going to be gone any longer than an hour and realistically I cannot be more than 20 minutes away from him. This is not true for Mr O, who has managed to have days and whole nights away. I don’t have a burning desire to be away from Little O but it makes things like the Keeping in Touch day I did for work earlier this week a lot more complicated. Mr O is able to walk out of our front door and head out into the world knowing that Little O is fully cared for by me and if things don’t go according to plan and he’s gone for longer than expected it’s no big deal. This is inconceivable for me. I haven’t been out past 7pm since he was born.

When it comes to putting Little O to bed or getting him to take a nap there are only two ways depending on his mood. He will either feed to sleep or needs to be rocked (usually as he shouts angrily in my ear or claws at my face and neck because he doesn’t understand yet that he’s tired). Both of these things only work when I do them. Mr O has tried to rock him but in Little O’s mind daddy is for fun and mummy is for eating and sleeping and getting shit done. Even once Little O is asleep it’s still a mum job. He sleeps in his moses basket now but it lives on my side of the bed as I am the one who needs to get up for night feeds (and listen to him flail about in his sleep… seriously when do they stop doing that??).

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I’d fight crime but I am just too sleepy right now

And then of course there is the way society looks at mums. Whoever is cuddling Little O, if he starts whinging it’s, “time to go back to mummy!”. When your baby is kicking off in public whether it be on a plane, train, while you’re out shopping or wherever else it’s mum that the stares turn to, even if you’re not on your own. While dads wrangling babies seem to get looks of the “isn’t he marvelous” variety (even when the baby is in full purple-faced meltdown), a mum with the same baby is more likely to get “for god’s sake woman sort it out” looks. When Little O was about 6 weeks old and going to pieces on the tube, Mr O sat holding him while I trundled behind, hot and bothered with all our stuff. I watched people literally coo watching him rock Little O, while I barely existed. My mum was on the verge of canonising Mr O because he changed a poo nappy.

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I guess what I am trying to say is that being mum is awesome but it’s also relentless and overwhelming in a way that it’s probably impossible to understand unless you are mum. So the next time you see a mum dealing with some kind of epic baby incident, smile at her. She might need it.

 

 

15 Comments

  1. That feeling of not being able to go far or for long periods of time at the beginning were my biggest struggles. Reading this, I can still feel the anxiety and entrapment I was feeling back then. I felt like it would never end, but it does and then you have a toddler who can’t wait to run off to nursery to see his friends and you wonder how much it can have changed in such a relatively short time! Loved this post Abbi, as always x

    1. There is definitely a feeling of being a bit trapped. I don’t really want to go anywhere, I just want to know that I could if I did… if that makes sense… but I know the minute he’s more independent I’ll probably long for this time. Xx

  2. I’ve been feeling similarly as I’m also exclusively nursing my 13 week old. I have only given her a bottle a few times because honestly, pumping isn’t fun and my breasts don’t appreciate it! ((hugs)) This time will both crawl AND fly by!

    1. Pumping is a right pain in the butt and I’m always a bit depressed when he flat out rejects it after I’ve spent so much time! I know exactly what you mean though about time feeling like it’s crawling and speeding by simultaneously!

  3. Relentless! The only worse feeling of the overburden of motherhood is the empty nest syndrome when they “finally” leave and don’t need you anymore.

    1. Life’s great paradox. I say I want him to be more independent but I think I’ll immediately be sad when he is.

  4. Look on the bright side,Abbi. Only 50 years longer. If you are lucky…
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Haha! Oh Pete, that’s a bleak way if looking at things. Being a mum is hard sometimes but I love it and I’m looking forward to spending my life watching my little boy grow up.

      1. I wasn’t intending to be bleak, Abbi. It’s just that watching my step-children with my wife (the oldest is 32) reminds me that they are always Mum and child, no matter how old they get.
        Best wishes, Pete.

  5. Aww – I love the not-so-happy face! Adorable. : ) Great post, Abbi! I soooo know how you feel (as do other moms, I’m sure). And some people are just dicks in general about babies & children. Once you have a kid, you see how horrible some people are about them. You know, the types that seem to think you should keep your kid at home at all times because they shouldn’t be allowed to cry or make noise or exist in public. And, NO, it’s not the mom’s sole responsibility when a baby is crying (which all babies do – it can’t be helped!). Lol – it really is funny when men get praised for “changing a nappy” or something…. ; ) I promise it does get a lot easier in many ways! During the baby/breastfeeding days, it’s hard to not feel alone in many ways. Responsibility can be shared much more equally as they get older.

    1. It’s terrible but I find his sadface super cute. Some people are very much dicks about kids. I’d like to think I was never like that before I had them. It seems to be old people though. I got death stares from an elderly lady the other day who was wearing a necklace and a ring that said “mum” on them, which I thought was weird. Mr O has started getting up with him first thing and playing for an hour or two and letting me sleep, which is helping immensely.

  6. Brilliant post! Whilst we are mixed feeding and my husband is able to help, it is true that there is no getting away from the feeling of immense responsibility you have as a mum. Very well articulated Abbi 🙂 Also, fabulous pics of Little O! xx

    1. I think even if he could do more I would still feel in many ways that I should be doing it. I think there really is something about growing the baby inside you that makes you feel even more responsible.

  7. Hehehehe! I remember those days well..they do pass or rather mutate!! He is gorgeous though.. xxxxx

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