I don’t just ‘think’ anymore. I think in facebook status updates. Instead of: Gee am I having a great day today, it’s: Is having a great day and is really looking forward to the weekend. Is cooking up a storm. Is sick of being woken up by the possums on the roof. Feels like toast. Etc. Just this morning I was thinking: Is achieving so many great things today and it’s only 10.30am. Nappies washed, bread cooking, kitchen floor swept and mopped, Baby sleeping. Mother showered, hair washed, hair dried, AND dressed. Dinner planned, walk booked in with motherly friend this afternoon. I resisted the facebook app on my iPhone (I’ve changed) and flicked on the computer.
Then it hit me.
I am a domestic goddess! Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would be able to do all of those things by 10.30am with Baby. I think I have left the fog of newborn behind me, finally! I must be the only mother in the world that kept calling her baby ‘newborn’ when she was actually nearly four months old. That was me yesterday. This is me, today!
I am sitting here on the big couch, in the warmth, with Baby sleeping and snuggling in my arms, wondering if things could get any better. She’s all warm and soft, I just love the way her chubby legs curl up like a little frog when she cuddles on my chest. Outside there is a light fog, and the Liquid Amber tree is starting to lose it’s leaves. I love winter but I’m always sad when that tree is sitting there naked and thin. At the moment the remaining leaves are a deep, rich, honey caramel colour. In spring, the leaves are thick and bright grasshopper green. It’s the first thing I see when I look out our window.
Aventful still hasn’t arrived, so on Sunday I gave up and faced the hell that is more commonly known as ‘stocktake sales’. I wish someone had warned me. Every bone in my body was shrieking GET ME OUT OF HERE, but there was no escape. The dismal swim through a sea of bodies and flashy signs making my materialistic side get all hot and jumpy, ended in a 2 hour search for the breast pump of my dreams. Apparently there were other mummies on the same treasure hunt as they were sold out at every shop I went to. My feet hurt, my back ached and we had the pram so we were forever walking miles from one lift to another to go up or down floors. I also had images playing in my head of that KMart ad where the lovely, kind, gentle shop assistant lady is all smiles and cheer helping a customer with a large box. Unfortunately she was nowhere to be found at the stocktake sales. It must have been her day off. Just as I was on the verge of tears Prince Charming suggested Babies ‘R’ Us. A horrible place, but nonetheless my eyes lit up as though he had just suggested we pop into Apple and buy me a Macbook (computer of my dreams). At 4.55pm, as they were putting up the plastic barricades at Babies ‘R’ Us, I walked out with an Avent ISIS Electrical Breast Pump clutched to my chest – the very last one they had in store. I was the happiest mummy in town. We took Aventful No. 2 home and over the last few days we’ve been getting to know each other. As I suspected, Brilliant is getting on like a house on fire, but Bamboozling is taking a little longer to warm up.
Enough milk talk, I’m thinking I might throw the dogs in the car and go for a walk down by the river before Mother’s Group this afternoon. A coffee might well be on the cards too…
As you know, Mother’s Group is at our house tomorrow. The timer has finished, the clock has stopped. If it doesn’t go well, there’s nothing we can do about it now.
We spent a lot of time together today, you and me. Who knew how dirty you could get down there? I scrubbed and I polished and I sprayed fancy sprays. I mopped and I vacuumed and I wiped. It was all going so well, I was almost even enjoying getting to know you better. But alas, the fun had to come to an end. And come to an end it did. I was on my hands and knees, Cinderella style thank you, toilet brush in hand – you saw me. We were getting on so well, you and I, singing away, sparrows and big eyed baby deer, etc. But then you had to go and do what you did. You just had to ruin it. When I saw your water splashing up, up, up, out of your bowl and into the air I knew, I just knew what was going to happen next but I didn’t have time to close my mouth. And it’s safe to say your water isn’t exactly the Evian of toilet waters.
Although we’re no longer on talking terms, I just wanted to wish you well for tomorrow. If these mamas are the non-weeing type, god help us. I’ll be topping up tea and offerring water and doing anything I can to ensure those ladies take a trip in to see you, looking your finest. I’m sure they won’t disappoint us.
You know when your baby starts crying and you’re not sure if she’s hungry or tired? Guess what? There’s an app for that. Yup, you can record sleep, nappy changes, breastfeeds, eating, baths, playtime… Anything ‘baby’. In fact, it’s called Total Baby.
I am currently about five days into my Total Baby Ban. I knew it was time to have a break from the app for a few reasons:
1. My husband (who has requested to be referred to on this blog as Prince Charming – after I denied his requests of Randy and King) commented on the amount of time I was spending on my iPhone, to which I was very quick to reply, ‘So what? You like supercoach right? You’re always on supercoach! Leave me alone!’ all the while clutching my iPhone to my chest and displaying a face similar to Bilbo Baggins when Gandalf tries to take The Ring back.
2. Baby was crying and instead of rushing to her aid I ran around muttering ‘where’s my phone’ so it could tell me if she was hungry or tired.
3. I started calling nappies ‘diapers’ because that’s what Total Baby calls them.
4. I could tell you down to the second how long it had been since baby’s last bath.
5. I was continually asking Prince Charming for detailed descriptions of baby’s nappies so I could record it on Total Baby (eg. BM – bowel movement, with note spaces for consistency and amount, W – wet, Dry – dry, etc). This became slightly awkward if we were out in public.
6. It was just making me feel weird.
So 5 days in I’ve begun to notice some things about Baby (when I can see her past the tick in my eye that has developed since trying to kick Total Baby to the curb). Everything she does relies solely on instinct and millions of years of evolution. For instance I read somewhere (probably on google) that the grasping reflex that comes naturally to babies is an age old reflex from when us mamas used to have fur on our chests and babies had to hold on. Pity I had my chest waxed as all Baby’s hard work just goes to waste.
She just really is a stone-age bub. She looks at me with enormous eyes and looks so cute when she cries that it just forces me to do something, anything! (See I do have some instints left). Baby just does everything she’s meant to do. Meanwhile her super sonic mama is running around relying on iPhone apps, google and Dr Phil to tell her what to do. This has got to stop! I feel so guilty and it’s time I connected with my inner-mum. No more Total Baby. No more google. No more Dr Phil! I can’t promise no more iPhone though because I’m in the middle of 4 games of scrabble on Words with Friends and it wouldn’t be friendly of me to quit in the middle of a game, no, that would just be plain rude.
Why has it taken 9 whole weeks for me to figure this out? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, a, b, c and all that. Someone at mother’s group during the week said (when we were talking about the dreaded ‘S’ word – SLEEP), ‘I just do the whole eat, play, sleep thing and it seems to work.’
I nodded my head in agreement as if I knew what she was talking about, hmm yeah, me too, works a treat doesn’t it? Got home, googled, read, read some more… click! Classic lightbulb moment. You breastfeed, you play with the baby a bit and then they go to sleep! They wake up, you breastfeed them, play with them and… bingo, you guessed it, they go to sleep again. This goes on for the whole day and everyone is lovely and smiley and happy. The whole process takes around 3 hours, eg. from the start of one feed to the start of the next. Yes, yes, you probably all know this already, common knowledge probably, and I’m already feeling a little slow so please humour me.
Time to put all my research into action… yesterday morning Baby was playing on her mat after a feed, gazing up at the colourful birdie hanging above. I was doing the whole, ‘Ohhh look at the pretty birdie!’ *jiggle birdie* ‘It’s a birdie! Yes! It’s a very pretty little birdie! Oooh!’ in that voice. You know the voice I’m talking about, the one you hear mummies talking to their babies in before you have one of your own and you say to yourself: I’m never going to talk to my baby in that voice. But I’m telling you now – you will talk to your baby in that voice. You might as well just accept it. So anyway, the pretty little birdie was jumping around and Baby yawned. I checked the time. She had been awake for 1.5 hours. Right! Wrap time. She whinged a bit at first but within about thirty seconds of me holding her and bouncing around like a mad woman on the fitball (lifesaving device) her eyelids started to droop. I couldn’t believe it! She slept for a whole hour then woke, played (Oh look at that birdie! Isn’t it a funny clever amazing little birdie! Don’t we just love the birdie! Yes we do!), yawned. Wrap, jiggle, sleep! I watched 5 episodes of Sex and the City Season 3 – yep, the whole Aidan thing. I had a little bout of swearing at Carrie and throwing my breastfeeding rags at the telly before Baby woke up again.
Now I’m feeling all amazing and great, like a proper mother who wears an apron and has freshly blowdried hair and has a routine. Yep that’s right, Baby and I have a routine and everything is just fabulous.
Who would have thought there were so many conversations to be had about poo? I was at Mother’s Group this morning, and, well, poo certainly dominated the conversation. That awkward thing happened to me. That inevitable thing that happens when you’re hanging out with humans and babies at the same time, in the same room. I was telling a story about the weird lady who works at the pet shop. I got to the climax of the story: ‘And then she said-‘ when I was interrupted by an enormous, bellowing, wet sounding fart coming from the second smallest baby in the room. Of course everyone stopped to giggle and laugh and swoon over the second smallest, largest farting baby in the room. I stopped and joined in, smiling and cooing, then went to continue my story: ‘And then she said-‘… another enormous eruption. Once again everyone stopped and smiled. I tried to continue: ‘And then she said- hm, yeah, oh how cute.’ I gave up and sat down with Baby on the couch feeling embarrassed.
My story about Weird Pet Shop Lady was forgotten and the conversation quickly turned to something much more interesting – poo. How often does your baby poo? What’s the texture of the poo? The colour of the poo? The odour of the poo? The amount of poo? The baby’s facial expression when he/she is trying to poo? The sound the baby makes when he/she is doing the poo? How quickly they want the nappy changed once it’s full of poo?
Is this really what my life has become? Poo? But yes, there I was sitting on the edge of my seat, eyebrows poised, eagerly awaiting someone to make eye contact with me so that I could tell everyone all the ins, and outs of Baby’s poo and how it doesn’t smell so bad but she definitely wants her nappy changed quick smart once it’s there. And how she poos every day but there isn’t really a schedule to it. And it’s really runny and she gets this really funny look on her face when she is doing the poo and she can even do it while she’s breastfeeding because she really is the most clever baby and it gets stuck in all the fat creases on her chubby legs and it’s just all so cute and lovely.
Today I was lucky enough to get some much needed Mummy-Me-Time (MMT). As usual it was spent doing the food shopping… You are probably thinking this almost defeats the purpose of MMT in which one would assume the mummy in question does something indulgent and of interest but hey, I am taking what I can get at the moment.
Even pre-baby however in order to add some light entertainment to my otherwise boring outing I have a shameful habit of stalking people at the supermarket and inspecting all the things they buy to make me feel better about myself. Eg. Oh look, that woman is buying chips and magnum gold icecreams – quick glance at the tofu and chickpeas in my trolley – oh yes aren’t I good and healthy and modern. In this game it particularly helps if the person being stalked is overweight or wearing trackies and ugg boots or has obvious signs of oil in their hair or all of the above.
This game has become even more thrilling now I am a mother. Now I can inspect peoples’ bad food choices with an extra touch of smugness. Eg. Oh look, that woman is buying chips and magnum gold icecreams – quick glance at the tofu and chickpeas and BPA free dummies in my trolley – oh yes aren’t I good and healthy and modern and responsible and motherly all at the same time. Today I even wore a stripy top with jeans and a badge just to show how modern and cool I am, despite my new motherly status. Really, if you must know, it is just a bid to increase my self esteem now that my somewhat deflated post-baby-body has been returned looking ever so slightly different to the one I remember. Ok, a lot different to the one I remember.
Anyway, today when I was skulking up the frozen food aisle turning my nose up at someone’s choice of chicken nuggets, my phone rang. It was a girlfriend of mine who rang to tell me about the crazy weekend she’d had: drinking, hangovers, sex with her nextdoor neighbour, clothes shopping, brunch and coffee to cure said hangover, an emerging writers’ festival event, etc. As she was chatting away in my ear I looked down at my stripy top, jeans and badge and glanced at the tofu and chickpeas (and BPA free dummies and nappies) in my trolley. I thought about my weekend spent breastfeeding, watching episodes of Wilfred and Sex and the City, early nights and crosswords and felt a little bland to be honest. But then thought of my baby girl waiting for me (aka my breasts) at home and remembered it’s all worth it. I detoured via the chocolate aisle on my way out (even people in stripy tops have to slip up sometime) and headed for home.
Why am I here? It’s 10pm and my seven week old daughter is sleeping soundly. Surely any sane new mother would be in bed right now, making the most of every precious moment SLEEPING. I hear you asking: A sane new mother? Is there such a thing? I have no idea. I have no idea of anything much at the moment really. Everything I thought I once knew has been forgotten, and everything I am supposed to know is, well, completely unknown! One minute I was eating m&ms, polishing the kettle, and listening to meditation CDs encouraging me to breathe energy and lifeforce to my baby while doing strange yoga poses on a fit ball, the next I was thrust into the world of motherhood: changing nappies, breastfeeding, settling, cuddling, not sleeping, smiling enormous smiles, kissing roly poly skin and all other things baby. Nothing, not even all those months of pregnancy, could have prepared me for this new world. And maybe that is why I’m here, to make some sense of it all in my own way.
One thing no one tells you about motherhood – the baby-brain just gets so much worse! I thought it was bad during pregnancy… my husband came to me the other day:
‘Uh, sweetheart, are a bunch of Baby’s singlets and your favourite growsuit meant to be in the bin in the bathroom?’
‘Ok then – guess I’ll just get them out and pop them back in her room then hey?’
I went to a friend’s baby-shower on Saturday. She’d been telling me all about the new renovations and the baby’s room and was all excited to show me. I left home and was ten minutes late. I pulled up – at her mother’s house. About forty minutes from where I was meant to be. And the whole way there I was just so smug about the whole thing – Oh look, I don’t even need to look up the address, I’m just so clever and amazing, I was saying to myself. I bet lots of other people have to look up the address. I bet they’re all just pouring over their little maps, trying to figure out where to go. And look at me! I’m just driving straight there because I’m so great. Forty minutes and a phone call to my husband to get the address and a lot of map pouring later I arrived at the correct address and was one of the last guests there, one hour and ten minutes late.
I’ve also lost my husband’s bank card, spat my toothpaste onto the bench while standing right in front of the sink, worn clothes inside out, flooded the laundry, and called my brand new daughter by my rabbit’s name – all the while further developing my already incredibly bad caffeine addiction.
So people, I’m not that sure of much at the moment. The only thing I know for sure is that Baby has to be the cutest and most adorable and cleverest and wonderful baby I have ever come across, and she is worth every ridiculous embarrassment I have caused myself, plus more.