A Diary of Motherhood: Week One

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,

There was a moment as the sun rose on your seventh day on the Earth when we both lifted our heavy eyelids from something similar to sleep at exactly the same time. We stared at each other for a collection of seconds, unblinking, and our eyes locked.

Now I know when you did so you could barely make out the outline of my face in the dim dawn light that the curtains mostly blocked. But I could see you; your full cheeks, your small mouth, your almond eyes lying below your barely there blond eyebrows. While you closed your eyes again almost instantly, I kept mine open and watched you lying next to me. I studied your fingers, curled around on each other into tiny fists full of unexpected force. I stroked the soft skin on your arms and I cupped my hand around your body and pulled you in a little closer. And after a while, my own eyes closed and sleep came and took us both a little further into your journey.

For the first three nights of your tiny, wonderful, demanding existence I resisted bringing you into bed with me. We didn't plan to co-sleep. We don't really want to have a baby in bed with us. I want you to be independent and sleep and dream confidently on your own. But it became clear that at night, when the light, noise and other stimulus had disappeared, you needed the closeness. That is of course logical. You spent a long time sleeping to the rhythm of my heart beat, getting rocked by my walking to the shops, safely surrounded by my warm waters. What I didn't expect was that I would also need you close by in order to sleep myself.

Despite already being sleep-deprived and physically broken from a long labour, I found it impossible to sleep for more than thirty or forty minutes at a time during the first few nights you were at home. I wasn't listening out for your snuffles and sniffles to turn into cries. Instead my sleeplessness was caused by my own overwrought, over-thinking mind tossing around all the ways in which my life had changed and all the ways I couldn't comprehend the future. Throw in some hours spent re-living your delivery, some hormones determined to make me cry at just the thought of how helpless you are and then yes, that feeling that I could be called upon at any moment to feed or soothe you and sleep was a galaxy away.

So when you didn't sleep between feeds, and I couldn't close my eyes without seeing fear and apprehension flash back at me, I picked you up, pulled you in close to my chest and lay back on my pillow.

At some point your cries quietened. My mind calmed down. And together we slept for an hour or more for the first time.

Your loving, sleep-deprived, crazy-in-love mother. x

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before putting down some roots with her Australian partner and having a baby boy in July 2015. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her son around Amsterdam.
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