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,
If last week things were beginning to click, this week things went crack, crash, bang and whallop.
I know why it all went wrong. It's because I made the mistake of thinking you were starting to cry less and sleep more. I may have even uttered the words "I think we're getting somewhere" to your dad or in a message to my mother. Within twenty-four hours of those fateful words you decided to go on an all-night feeding frenzy that involved periodic disco dancing and seeing just how loud your voice could go. It was basically a typical night out from my twenties, but I'm not twenty-something any more and you've got a long way to go before then.
There followed a handful of nights where you showed promise by going down perfectly, waking only for a feed, but come 1.30am you'd realise you'd missed out on half a night of raving and you decided to try make up for it. It's not all completely your fault. I'm still suffering from a mild case of insomnia. I find it so hard to switch off. I know I should just let go of what expectations I have; I need to just accept that there is nothing "perfect" or "in control" about my life at the moment, but instead I spend the hours you do sleep lying awake and wondering what I've done wrong or rather, what I didn't do right, what makes you cry and struggle to sleep for longer than a few hours at best.
And with this thought process came our first big fight. Not you and me - there's plenty of time for that once you've worked on your vocabulary a bit, even though I now know you've totally got the volume to out-shout me - but your father and I. While we've had several disagreements and "discussions" in the last seven weeks this week saw us go to sleep (or rather to bed in my case) not talking for the first time. It was all because I burst into tears during one of your worst crying fits and wailed above your yells that I was a terrible mum. Rather then give me the hug and reassurance I craved he essentially told me to shut up and realise how silly it was to let a seven-week-old baby who can't wipe his own bum dictate whether I'm a good mum or not. While now I see there is some value in his reply, at the time I would have much preferred that hug. The night and the day that followed felt especially treacle-like to get through.
But this week wasn't all bad. One of my good friends from London came to stay and after a brunch of champions at our favourite spot she, you and I spent the day together going shopping, drinking hot chocolate and overcoming a few breastfeeding in public fears. She didn't see the side of you that kept us all awake and pulling our hair out this week. She saw you as the chubby, sometimes serious, sometimes smiley, mohawk-ed baby boy you are. You spooned her chest like it was my own and you didn't scream when she smothered you with kisses.
I suppose this is how life is going to be from now on. Appearances (and lots of make-up/coffee/wine) may give off one impression but behind closed doors there could be a very different story unfolding. Of course, this is the way I would rather it be; to be all easy at home but difficult with others would make for a much more stressful scenario - and far fewer friends, and frankly I need all the friends I can get at the moment.
And you. I still need you. I went for my first run in over six months this week and while I loved the freedom I felt and listening to my running playlist after all this time made me sing out loud like a crazy woman, I couldn't wait to get home and pick you up and feel the softness of your cheeks against my own face. Of course, your response was crying in my ear, but that's fair enough. I probably stank a lot!
Your really badly sleep-deprived, slightly sweaty, happy-because-your-dad-eventually-did-give-me-that-hug, crazy-in-love mother x
Frances M. Thompson
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