Mothering is all about acceptance. I know that, but often need to be reminded. After much success last week with our visit to the ABA, things slowly returned to ‘normal’ with little Pix once again refusing the breast, coming on and off continually and crying… a lot.
It’s hard not to take it as a personal insult, this rejection. By Friday night I was in all manner of tiz so Prince Charming rode in and supported my executive decision to cancel the coffee catch up, first birthday, house warming and baby shower we had on the weekend, throw a few things in some bags and go to the beach to let the sea air calm our nerves and bring us all down to earth.
The one thing keeping me sane was and is that Pixie’s nappies are always wet, so deep down somewhere beyond my understanding I know she is getting what she needs.
In all my exhaustion I forgot that my next door neighbour is a breastfeeding counsellor (yeah, could have been handy remembering this earlier). After my cry for help she came and spent 2 hours with me yesterday morning. We don’t know each other well, a hello here and a chat down the street there.
But in my lounge room as she held and rocked my baby, we were two women with no other simpler connection than motherhood. While she didn’t offer me a magic cure, our conversation was truly enlightening. She padded around the mat, doing the gentle baby dance, and told me that I had to accept that this beautiful baby, all roll and smile and softness, just might not conform to the rigid checklist given at the maternal child health centre: feed 3-4 hourly, 20 minutes on each breast, play on the mat contently for 45 minutes, drift off to sleep wrapped up in her bassinet, wake 2 hours later, cry for 10 minutes at 6pm, and so on. My baby knows what she needs, and for now, with a little tummy that is having trouble digesting, it’s smaller and more frequent feeds, with a lot of upright time being held and cuddled as she muddles her way through. She needs to feed more overnight when she is calm and sleepy and snuggled up next to me.
This wasn’t new information, but with someone else talking me through it, everything suddenly seemed a little easier to handle. She reminded me of how quickly Baby has grown up, how quickly time passes, how many phases little people flow through. For now, it’s this. It’s challenging. It’s tiring. But soon, in a few days or weeks, it will be something else.
She looked up at the large clock on my kitchen wall and said, “You might want to do something about that.” She reminded me not to watch the clock, but to watch my baby, and listen to what she was telling me. She talked not just of a baby’s instinct, but a mother’s. That it’s ok to feel upset and to count down the minutes until your partner gets home some days. That we don’t have to enjoy every minute of every day to be a good mother. That it’s actually our instinct to be with other women, other women who would hold and pat and shush our babies, who would tell us what to do when our babies are crying, who would cook for us and tell us that everything is ok. Instead we are all in our homes, alone. Changing nappies, rocking babies, reading stories, drawing pictures, cooking meals, washing clothes. We see other mothers up the street looking all together and wonder what we are doing wrong.
We are all the same though, just moving through the day as best we can, with minimal upset, seeing the sunshine when we can and shedding some tears when we can’t.
Today was a much better day.