Weeks old: 23
I like: Hey Duggee, playing with my feet, boobs… but only at home when nothing else exciting is happening
When I was pregnant I told myself all I wanted to achieve in the first 6 months of Little O’s life was that he, Mr O and I came out of it alive. I told myself I was not going to put pressure on myself to be perfect. I wouldn’t care if I had a messy house or how I fed my baby or where or how much he slept. I was just going to wing it. I never looked at all those mummy Instagram feeds and thought, “I want to be the perfect mum”. I figured I’d approach motherhood with a “this’ll do” attitude
There were two things I had completely forgotten to consider in deciding on this approach.
The first thing was my actual personality. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, more of a pragmatist. My whole job rests on being able to weigh up “must haves” versus “cool but not worth the time or money” and I’d like to think I am pretty good at it. However what I am is extremely organised. I like to plan for all eventualities. I have always been able to overcome my own shortcomings by planning the fuck out of everything. It turns out babies are completely unplannable and unpredictable. Getting next to no sleep is really hard but what is even harder is having no idea how your baby is going to sleep on any particular night. Going out further than ten minutes from home with a baby is hard. Having no idea when and why the baby is going to meltdown or for how long is even harder. Sure you can plan by bringing out toys, nappies, wipes, working around naps, etc but almost every moment of the day feels out of control. Control freaks are not comfortable with winging it. Even if they tell themselves they will be.
The second thing I didn’t understand until I actually had a baby was exactly how much I was going to love the baby. I want to be an amazing mum because I want the best for him. Being exhausted, impatient and vacant from sheer lack of energy makes me feel like he is not getting the best of me and that absolutely kills me. Although I miss having time to myself, sleeping for more than 2 hours in one go and shaving my legs, what I find the most challenging is the idea that there is more that I could be doing. I want the house to be clean because he shouldn’t grow up in a mess. I want to always be calm and collected because he shouldn’t feel like his mother is impatient with him for just being a baby. I want to be rolling on the floor playing with him at 6am not lying on the sofa crying while he watches Hey Dugee so he can be constantly learning and developing.
This last week has brought the perfect storm of the ongoing 4/5 month sleep regression and a horrible cold that Little O and I now both have. (Pretty much inevitable when your constant companion delights in putting his hand in his mouth and then yours). There was a night he woke up thirteen times. There was more than one night where he was up for two hours in the middle of the night. There was a night where he refused to eat and screamed himself to sleep, followed by twice projectile vomiting all over us. During the day the fact that Little O obviously feels awful, based on how awful I feel, means that he has whined every hour that he is conscious and wanted me to stand rocking him for all of those hours. I have never felt so ill-equipped and inadequate in my life.
As much as mums of older children keep telling me everyone feels like this, I feel like I should be able to cope, that I should and can do better and that I am failing hopelessly. With just over two weeks to go before Little O is 6 months old, I am very likely to meet my original goal of us all being alive but it just doesn’t feel good enough anymore. I hope one day with hindsight I will be able to look back at this time and realise I was enough and I was doing my best and even maybe that I am a good (or at least a good enough) mum but right now it’s going to continue to be a challenge.