by Kylie Krackenbacken
What a beautiful little guy!
I love him to death, what an angel!
This is what I thought when I was in hospital. I loved watching all of the expressions on his little face so much that I even ate cold brussel sprouts without realising it.
At home a few weeks later, (after two extra hospital stays and about a hundred doctor appointments thanks to a few complications – long story, I’m fine, thanks for asking!) the euphoria had faded a little.
I asked my partner when the magic was supposed to start. Turns out he was asleep with his eyes open, so no joy there. After the next feed, bleary eyed, I asked him whether the magic had started yet. He was philosophical and said that maybe we should have gotten a puppy instead but it’s too late to swap said beautiful baby now and what is the thing that comes after number 5? Sigh. I can understand now why sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
I can’t tell you how many times I Googled ‘when do babies start to sleep’. I really just needed to Google ‘when do babies…’ as it turns out this was a popular search and Dr Google knew exactly where I was at. I think I read the same article at least 50 times. I think my beloved also read the same article 50 times when instead we should have been bloody sleeping! Cue stupid arguments about who got more sleep, which is utterly pointless given neither of us will ever sleep in again.
Oh, how we reminisced about how we used to sleep and have nanna naps when we were ‘tired’. I realised it was bad when my brother joked about my beloved pretending he was going to work but actually going to a hotel room to sleep: it hit me that I would be WAY more upset about him getting sleep than having an affair!
Keeping a tiny human alive is the hardest thing I (we) have ever done. People tell you it’s tough but you can’t understand the highs, the lows and the crippling self doubt that comes along with the beautiful tiny human! Has he crapped enough? Is his poo the right colour? Has he eaten enough? Will the hiccups kill him? If we don’t do enough tummy time will he be 18 years old and not able to lift his head off the ground? Why is he barfing up something that looks like ricotta? Does he weigh enough? Does he weigh too much? What does that cry mean? Why isn’t he crying? Why isn’t he sleeping? Why is he sleeping?
Evolution is a clever beast. Just as we thought that we should rent out said beautiful baby to people thinking about having children so they could make an educated decision about having one (and so we could get some sleep), the beautiful little bugger smiled. A big, gummy, spitty smile that lit up the room. We sighed and decided that he could stay. Just as we thought that we might die from lack of sleep, he started sleeping. It probably won’t last but we are trying to make the most of it while it does. Sigh, OK, he can stay…wait, why is he sleeping so much, is he OK, quick, Google it, aaaaaaaaarghhhh!
My advice (and again, advice is crap, particularly mine) is that if you don’t enjoy every minute of parenthood it doesn’t mean that you love them less or you’re a bad parent. A good friend told me that a lot of the newborn phase is to be endured, not enjoyed. That made me feel better because I felt like I should be enjoying EVERY minute and that I was a bad Mum if I wasn’t. Which is stupid because it’s not like I enjoyed every single minute of my pre baby days either, not even EVERY minute of my dream trip to Europe (cue long story about a train from Rome Termini station…)!
Maybe if we were just a little bit more honest with each other about how bloody tough it can be and a little less judgey mcjudgey, we wouldn’t need to feel silently guilty about stuff that is entirely normal.