This Diary of Motherhood is a series of weekly letters to my first baby, my little son who I call Baby Bird. I know not everyone wants to read about the highs and lows of motherhood so you can read non-baby related posts about travel, writing, freelancing or Amsterdam instead. Alternatively read one of my short stories or check out some book reviews and recommendations.
Dear Baby Bird
You turned three months old this week and therefore, apparently, you stopped being a newborn baby. Sturdy and podgy, it's been a long time since I felt you were "newborn" but nonetheless I found reaching this milestone bittersweet.
Looking after a newborn baby was hard in ways I'll never be able to succinctly describe. I feel as though I'll never recover from the ongoing lack of sleep, the explosion of emotions, the weight of this new responsibility and how some of your crying fits would pierc through my heart for hours on end. However, many of the challenges were to more to do with me than you - namely how I struggled (and still am struggling) with the shock of being a mum, despite nine months of preparation and a whole weekend of labour! - and for the most part you have been an easy-to-please baby, but there were many, many, many moments when I willed away the hours, the days, the weeks until this all felt more normal.
I'm not sure if it feels normal yet. I still have moments where out of nowhere I sit bolt upright and remember "Holy shit! I have a child!", but this week I said something to my mum, who was visiting, and it made me realise how the last few months were far from all bad.
"I sort of want to do it all again because now I know what I'm doing. That way I can be good at it and really enjoy all the wonderful parts and not dwell on the bad ones."
Those wonderful parts, unique to newborn you include...
The way you would search me out with just your mouth, your eyes squeezed shut, your lips wide open and your little head shaking from side to side.
The way when we lifted you up your default position was with your legs tucked up and your arms folded in, your tightly clenched fists nudging your chin.
The way you would sleep for hours and hours and hours - had we let you - on the chest of your dad.
The way, while sleeping, your breathing would alter from fast and furious to slow and soft and back again. A frighteningly normal thing for newborns to do.
The way you would silently stare at something without blinking for what seemed like hours.
The way you would lie still wrapped in your swaddle, balanced on a cushion on my lap, taking your sweet time over a yawn.
The way I would have to stroke the soles of your feet to keep you suckling away so you stayed awake and had enough milk.
The way those first smiles came in your sleep, promising us so much.
The way your skinny legs stuck out of your nappy. There's nothing skinny about you now and I love that.
The way you would stretch out your fingers and curl them up again, in long slow movements. There's very little slow about you now and I love that too.
The way I was able to hold all of you across my chest as I nursed you.
The way your fingernails were so thin and flimsy they would break by themselves. Now keeping you from scratching yourself is like giving a hyperactive monkey a manicure.
The way the only hair on your head was the thin streak of mohawk and I would stroke it backwards to make it stand on end. Heck, I still do this.
The way you hated baths for the first six weeks of your life so our only option to bathe you was in the shower, your curled up frame against my chest and the warm water making you as slippery as the moment I first held you.
I'm sure there's more things I will miss that I've already forgotten, and I'm sure that there are many, many other things that are happening right now that I will go on to forget and miss, that's why we've got to treasure what's happening right now. Treasure all those wonderful parts and not dwell on the bad ones.
As I think is my general approach to motherhood, I can't guarantee I'll succeed at this but I promise I'll try...
Your reminiscing, not-really-thinking-about-doing-this-all-again-yet-because-I'm-not-completely-insane, crazy-in-love mother