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,
What a week. What a horrid week for you. What an unpleasant few days you've had; painful, uncomfortable and disruptive. It started on Sunday night with a spectacular projectile vomit and continued with three days of up and down temperatures, fussing tantrums over food and very unsettled nights that resulted in you sleeping between your father and I. We began to recognise a new cry you have, that of you being in persistent pain. The week ended with us taking you to the doctor's and him quickly diagnosing you with an ear infection. By Saturday afternoon, as the antibiotics kicked in, you'd reverted back to your playful, hungry and yes, still a little grumpy self.
What a week, you poor, poor boy. It was probably one of your worst since you joined us. In fact, I'm fairly sure you spent most of the week thinking "Sod this, I wanna go back to where it was warm and I didn't even have to open my eyes or mouth to get fed."
Now can I admit that this week was one of my best since you were born? Or is that totally inappropriate and insensitive?
Maybe, let me explain. This week was one of my best not because you suffered and struggled, screaming down the house at night and moaning your way through the days, but because as a result of this, I stepped up my mama game. Something inside me - that I suspect wasn't there a few months ago - made me forget how tired I was, how I hadn't started the Christmas shopping or how the fridge was empty, and my only focus was you. It wasn't a conscious thought process, it was instinctive. I held you close. I wanted my hugs to swallow up your pain, to transfer it from your little body to my bigger, stronger frame. I told you how everything was going to be okay and that I was here and I would make it all better though I didn't really know how. And do you know what ? It felt good. It made me feel like this was what I was supposed to do. I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be - even if I'd only had four hours sleep that night, even if my back hurt from standing up and walking around with you for over an hour, even if the only position you settled in was in my arms as I sat up in bed - I was doing exactly what I should be doing. Forgive me, Baby Bird, but I'm not sure I would have felt that way in the same scenario a few months ago. Yes, I would have felt the same obligation but it would have weighed me down rather than lifting me up like it did this week.
Because I think I'm finally starting to feel comfortable being your mum. I'm finally starting to believe that nobody else could do this job better. I'm finally starting to trust myself that I've got what it takes.
Maybe you're surprised to hear that I didn't feel this sooner. We are approaching five months after all and it has been a fairly crucial time in your life so for me to not be feeling 100% comfortable in this hugely significant role, may sound a little worrying. But it's the truth and I think it's important to be honest with you about this because then you'll maybe also learn how long I've been waiting, wanting, needing this to happen.
Of course, I was scared too. As I scooped up your hot body in the middle of the night and felt your arms flop around my neck, I realised I'd never seen you like this. Your helplessness physically pained me and your sad, weak cries made me want to sob too. Occasionally my body froze as I considered all the horrible ways you could be more seriously sick than I was thinking, but I surprised myself by staying calm, by thinking about the best course of action (hugs, paracetamol, seeing if you'd like to feed) and when a few minutes later you fell back to sleep with my hand on your chest, I felt not only relief but that same sense of purpose and conviction.
I'm exactly where I need to be. I'm a mother now. I'm your mother. I'm exactly where I need to be.
Your yet-again-sleep-deprived, yet-again-amazed-by-what-this-journey-is-teaching-me-about-myself and ever-so-crazy-in-love mother x
Frances M. Thompson
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