A Diary of Motherhood: Week Twenty-Eight

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 travelwritingfreelancing or Amsterdam instead. Alternatively read one of my short stories or check out some book reviews and recommendations.

Dear Baby Bird,

I feel like the last few weeks have been a blur of firsts so I will try to write some of them down now before they fade into the distance of my busy, tired mind.

The first tooth. And then the second. Dare I consider that the latter was an easier and less fraught experience for us all, and that that this will set a precedent for all future teething experiences getting gradually kinder and kinder until your last tooth appears pain-, grizzles- and night-wakings-free?

The first time we shared a bath together. After showering together every other night for nearly eight weeks when we started to bath you we never really considered getting in there with you. But when you were suffering with your first tooth and had only really responded to skin-on-skin time I got in there with you. Oh, Baby Bird, didn't we have fun. Why, oh why, oh why didn't we do that sooner?

The first time you put your toes in your mouth. That was impressive.

The first time you put your toes in my mouth. That was just showing-off.

The first time you met an empty 2-litre Evian bottle, aka your current favourite toy. Yeah, we have no idea what that's about either.

The first time you slept seven hours one night, and then eight hours the next - aided by two dream feeds, of course. Your father and I couldn't believe our luck, which is stupid really because we've surely done our fair share of waiting for that moment to happen. Of course, you had the last laugh because it's not happened again since.

The first time you woke me by making happy playing noises as opposed to angry get me out of this bed grunts or whimpering. I'm happy to say this is now becoming a more regular alarm clock and I like it very much. Well, as much as you can like any alarm clock at 6:30am.

The first time you actually swallowed "solid" food - albeit pretty mushy to me and I suspect by accident as you've been stubbornly consistent in showing zero interest in the various types of mush and puree I offer you. I also took offence that you seemed to show a slight preference for parsnip over all others; not my favourite vegetable by a long stretch.

The first time you took a bottle at daycare without a fight. It only took two months but thank goodness I think we've cracked it because now so many peoples' Tuesdays and Wednesdays are going to be a lot easier.

The first time you moved sideways, independently thanks to some superb side-shuffling and navel-pivoting, no doubt an exhausting upper-body workout.

The first time you slept in til 8am. Admittedly you had us up most of the time between 3 and 5, but I'll take that monster lie in, thank you very much.

The first time you rolled front-to-back. As a two month expert in rolling back-to-front all day every day and on both sides, this shocked us all, including you. A cynic would say it was an accident because it hasn't happened again since but I'm not a cynic. At least, not today.

The first time you took a two hour nap since you were a newborn. I naively thought it was the start of longer naps by you but you quickly corrected this kind of crazy optimism by returning to 30 minute power sleeps in which I can normally start a handful of things but never finish them.

The first time you went more than five hours without a feed. I know so many parents are going to be in wide-eyed shocked at this fact, but what can I say you're a hungry boy. Of course you didn't sleep for all of those five hours - but they happened!

The first time you sat up unaided for a minute or more. And then you didn't which was a little scary as you folded to the floor like a limp doll, but luckily your dad was close by.

The first time you got weighed at a check-in and actually came in under what your dad and I were estimating. In fact, you've only put on 300 grams in two months, which my body is grateful for though my brain and my breasts are most confused.

The first time I faced you forward in your Ergobaby carrier. I did this when we were at a museum recently (funnily enough not your first museum trip, you super cultured infant, you!) and you seemed to like it. I got to stare at the cute double crown in the back of your head too which was a bonus.

The first time you reached for me. Those arms undeniable angled at me, your mouth open out of expectation. And no, you weren't even hungry. You wanted me because I'm your mum and sometimes we all just need our mum.

The first time your mother got a week of decent sleep. Yes, this really did happen, and don't I know it because I am still feeling the many benefits. I look forward to so many things I used to dread. I don't see coffee as a lifesaver but a nice drink to savour. And I have stopped counting down the hours to bedtime (yours and mine) which has made me feel like a much, much better mother. But boy did it take a long time to get there and a lot of help. Your father has had to upend his routine and become a night owl so he can look after you when you wake during the night. You have had to endure some controlled crying as we take small steps to solve some of the sleep issues you've been having. And I had to accept some help from medical professionals, including a small pill that I take before I go to bed. This little yellow tablet helps to close down some of the tabs in my mind that I've been unable to close by myself recently and it helps pull the plug on the adrenaline and anxiety that has been sustaining me through the daytime of much of the last six months but unfortunately then keeps me awake at night after I've been woken up to feed or tend to you. I'm not proud that this is where we got to, but honestly, I'm not at all ashamed either because knowing how I felt at the beginning of this journey - shocked, blind sided and panicked about so, so many things - I've come a long, long way to feeling calm, content and even a little confident in my new role as a mother. And that was before the option of a sleeping tablet came up.

So that's where we're at little man. It's funny how many of these firsts aren't even going to become regular features in our life because before long you'll have dropped rolling for sitting, sitting for crawling, crawling for walking. And soon you won't just be reaching for me, you'll be calling for me in your own weird indecipherable way which will then become your name for me; Mum, Mama, Mummy.... who knows? Oh, and maybe, just maybe you'll start sleeping longer...  Hahahaha! Oh look the cynic in me has returned to remind me that I shouldn't hope for such lofty and ambitious events. I should just keep on keeping on, doing my best and dishing out as much love as I can, and perhaps most importantly of all, accepting help when I need it.

Your sleep-happy, yet-confusingly-still-tired, worried-I've-forgotten-some-other-important-firsts, 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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