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,
We made it! From the moment you were born, the end of week six became something of a milestone for me. That was when I would have my final check with the midwife again. That was when I could exercise once more. That was when I thought you would be having your first check with the doctor (as it is in the UK but actually you were checked at four weeks here). At six weeks I'm supposed to be all healed and recovered after birth. At six weeks we should be out of the worst period of inexplicable crying and sleepless nights. At six weeks we can maybe start to see your smiles. By the end of six weeks some of the biggest kinks - feeding, sleeping, crying - would be a little bit more ironed out.
So I clung to the six-week point as if it was a lighthouse and I was mounting twenty-metre waves in a broken raft. During the hardest times, I told myself I didn't have to get further than six weeks. I didn't have to worry about you eating solids, sitting up, talking and walking. I just had to get to six weeks.
And we did. I cannot believe how far we've come. From not knowing each other, or rather, never seeing each other before, I now see us as a well-trained little team. We work together to feed you. We chat together when I change your nappy. We curl into each other during afternoon naps on the sofa. And sometimes, but not as often now, we cry together when it all gets too much. Everything everyone said to Week One me is true.
You do sleep more at night. Not as much as I'd like but some.
You do smile at us.
You are still eating well.
You've already moved on from that teeny tiny phase. (Though admittedly that only lasted a week in your case).
You don't cry as much as you used to.
And while I don't feel life is anything like the normal it used to be, I'm finding it easier to settle in to the "new normal".
I'm so proud of you for growing so well (and so much - more than 2 kilograms in six weeks - woah!) and I'm proud of me. Because now I can look further than today. In fact, I find myself looking at toddlers sitting on their parents laps and I wonder what you will be like at that age. What words will you keep saying? What toys will you not be able to leave the house without? And in the park I watch schoolchildren chase each other and I wonder how fast you'll run, what sports you'll enjoy and if you'll be the one jumping in puddles, or will you try to leapfrog over them? I still find it impossible to look at teenagers and see you as one of them and when I think about you as an adult, well, that's when my head starts spinning but that's more to do with my uneasiness at how old I'll be then rather than my doubts you'll be a good, decent man.
At the end of these unique, crazy six weeks I also find myself looking back to myself in Week One and Week Two and all I want to do is give myself a hug. I want to stroke my hair and tell myself that nothing lasts. In my very limited experience I've come to learn that babies and motherhood are a series of phases, good and bad. Nothing lasts. The hard things get easier. The bad things get better... eventually. But this cycle and all the challenges it brings, always sticks around, and maybe getting used to that will never get easier. I certainly can't see how it can right now...
Because this also means that some of the sweetest, happiest things will also end. But hopefully, eventually they'll be replaced by phases that are just as precious and special. At least this is what I'm going to tell myself so that I can now try to look forward to the next six weeks, and beyond.
Your much less sleep-deprived, future-thinking, and yes, oh so crazy-in-love mother x
Frances M. Thompson
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