As I sit here, smug in my freshly baby proofed living room, I am enjoying this moment of having it all together as I know it won’t last long. This article is about the transitions, of which there are many, from “I’ve got this motherhood thing sorted” to “Holy Moly what was I thinking?”
These rude awakenings from my smug middle-class mother “got it all togetherness” have been few, but significant, and I will address those here.
It hit me first when after 4 months of tricky but successful breastfeeding, my child decided that actually my milk was not enough sustenance for her, that it was far too difficult to have to latch and do some work for the good stuff and that actually bottles were far preferable. Having just got into my breastfeeding rhythm; I had some very expensive but amazing bras (suitable for those of us with slightly larger than average mammary glands), I had my breastfeeding wardrobe sorted and my favourite pillow was moulded into the perfect shape, I now had to get my head around formula feeding. When you’re in the habit of just having to pop a boob out in the middle of the night, counting to 6 at 3am feels a lot more like complex algebra than a task easily achieved by a small child. Going out was where I seemed to come across my “holy moly” moments the most. How much formula might I need? How many bottles of boiled water should I take out with me? What if I got stuck in traffic? What if I chose to pop out to see someone else while I was out and didn’t have enough formula? Again it seemed so easy when I could pop a boob out and there was an indefinite supply of the stuff but now I had to think slightly more ahead than the next hour. I also had to take into account the new volume of poo. My lovely child had decided that, when she was breastfed, she only needed to poo once every 5 days. Like clockwork, I knew when it was coming. I was prepared. I had the plastic sheets out, I had the change of clothes ready (for me!) but now, oh no, poo could come anytime, anywhere. I soon got over this new found way of feeding the small child, helped by the purchase of new beautiful bras to compensate for this change of plan and the reintroduction of caffeine to my life, but more importantly the panic of “what if I run out of formula?” is soon subsided by the logic of there being a Tesco Express seemingly on every corner of every street in London.
So I got back into my groove, I felt that once again I had this motherhood lark down to a tee. The baby was sleeping better, in her own room, I no longer stubbed my toe on the moses basket at least 5 times a day and the nursery that had been planned more times than the seating plan at a royal wedding was now being used. Then the teeth came…. the teeth came at the same time as the 4 Month Sleep Regression. I use capitals because I feel the title deserves them. It is the thing that I had absolutely no knowledge of before but now feels like the most significant 10 days of my life and my next big “Holy Moly what was I thinking?” moment. On day 8 I was at the point where I could no longer form sentences. Not only would the darling child wake up roughly around every 45 minutes, just enough time for me to lay back down again, get comfy, drift ever so slightly back to sleep before I had to drag my butt out of bed again, but no one else was good enough to be fed by, cuddled by or even touched. Poor Husband felt very rejected at this point so made up for it by making more tea in 10 days than the cafe by the bus garage makes all winter. And then, one day it just ended. Bottom teeth made an appearance and she slept for hours, so much that I made Husband repeatedly check that she was indeed, still alive.
The next 6 weeks sailed by, baby was feeding and sleeping and chewing on everything in sight, I’d purchased a dog bed and covered it with a cot sheet so she could lay and play on a squishy surface and roll over without face planting (genius move I think: everyone’s a winner, baby was safe and then the dog got a present…a small reward for him and his also sleepless nights). Then she sat up and it was wondrous. Playgroup became the most amazing 2 hours of my week, there she would sit with her buddies playing with the toys within her reach, happy, chuckling and most importantly in the same spot. My new friends and I would sit and bask in the success of being able to chat for 2 hours and drink tea and pet our small sitting-up-but-most-importantly-stationary children. My inner middle-class smug mother was at her most smug. My hair was being dried, non-stretchy clothes were being worn, cups of tea were being drunk while they were still hot, it was the honeymoon of my mummyhood.
After the wonder of the crawling began, the videos were duly taken and sent to friends and relatives, the Facebook posts were made celebrating this achievement, then reality of a crawling child set in. There I stood in my living room, holding my small child looking at all the things she could grab, looking at the things that could fall and more importantly the various ways in which she could fatally injure herself. At the same time as the crawling began, so did the cruising round the furniture, and the walls, and any other surface which could provide her with the balance her long flamingo legs needed. Once again, I thought to myself “Holy Moly what have I got us into?”. Many weeks later, after many more hours spent on Pinterest searching for baby proofing ideas that are cheap and stylish, we have finally made it. Thanks to my lovely hubby for keeping all the boxes we used to move house (when said child was 12 days old!) the living room, dining room and bedroom are all de-cluttered with the implements of child injury safely put in the loft – to be seen again when the child turns 32. Thanks to friends who are far handier with a saw and hammer drill than either me or my hubby, we now have a Pinterest inspired TV unit that successfully hides the cables from the heavily toothed child.
I started this article feeling smug, sitting here safe in the knowledge that the small child’s opportunities for inflicting injury on herself while in the living room as now few and far between but I finish this article with my hood up so my darling daughter cannot tug out any more of my hair which is already thin enough as it is, and with the right hand corner of my laptop keyboard smeared with Rusk juice from the sticky little fingers who are now tall enough to reach up. I feel that my next “Holy Moly” moment is not too far away…..next comes climbing and then the inevitable falling (what goes up must come down, etc.) and then the actual return to work, more than just the odd KIT day here and there. Better stick the kettle on!