9 = the number of baby jigging steps** it takes me to get from one side of my bedroom to the other.
7 = the number of seconds it takes me to walk the nine steps.
498 = the number of times I paced up and down staring longingly at my bed and the wide mouthed sprawled snoring man in it at 4.30am this morning.
16 = the number of times Peach fell asleep only for her eyes to swing open again as if nothing had happened. What? Oh no, I wasn’t sleeping [laughs], I was just momentarily checking out the inside of my eyelids.
52 = the extra laps I did after she was finally asleep, just for good measure.
I don’t have a mathematical brain but I’d say that the above algorithm took a fair percentage off my recommended/preferred nightly hours of sleep.
So. Six weeks. The six week mark. A wonder week if I remember correctly? I’ve spent the last couple of nights like this, it’s been the first time since she was born that I’ve had to work really hard to get her back to sleep. They’re tricky, aren’t they? The way they look so deeply asleep one moment, then wham, the eyes are wide open again. But then you feel that comfortable warmth as her body finally relaxes and moulds to you. Got her!
It’s a strange kind of walking meditation, if you let it be so.
The big girls are at kinder, the baby is asleep. There are vegetables roasting in the oven for a frittata for tonight’s dinner. The washing has been put on and some episodes of Mad Men watched. Papers and pencils have been thrown into drawers and doors to messy bedrooms closed.
Newborning, the third time around… things are chaotic with three, but surprisingly there is an overarching sense of calm that comes with a little bit of knowledge and previous practice.
In the night when Peach is wide eyed and grizzly, I’m not in a flood of tears wondering what has happened to my life. I cuddle her close and breathe in her milky scent. I close my eyes when I can and go through that mental list – milked? changed? warm? tired? comforted? I remind myself how quickly this phase passes and life moves on.
Before I go to bed at night I quickly line up supplies for my nightly motherly duties – terry cloth towels, a few nappies, wipes, a full water bottle and a snack. I breastfeed in bed and close my eyes when I can. Nowadays nothing gets in the way of precious sleep time – if I can help it.
I’m slowly recovering from the birth and while life does not yet have a new flow, I have a new vision of how things are going to be. I know these sleepy newborn days don’t last, I know this round baby will soon open her eyes fully and begin to see the world around her in a new light. I know things will be busy and full when friends and family slowly move on with their lives and the food arriving on the doorstep and the kinder pickups gradually diminish.
Part of me is nervous, but the other part knows (read: hopes desperately) that I’ve got this.
I saw a birth on television today. Not a real birth. A fake one. On a television show.
Usually I just roll my eyes and not give fake births on television any more thought. But today I really watched it, and it got me thinking: why are births portrayed the way they are on TV?
This birth began in the traditional television way: her waters broke. Of course I have actually only ever met one person in real life whose waters breaking were the first indication of impending labour. But until I was pregnant myself I was none the wiser that this is not the normal way for a labour to start.
From the moment of waters breaking, the next scene included the mother-to-be being rushed down a corridor in a wheelchair with a flood of anxious people running behind her. She, typically, was making wild accusations at anyone who would listen, yelling and carrying on about how much it hurt.
From there we enter the hospital theatre, where in a sea of blue plastic, about a million people coach the screaming woman to “push harder!” She responds by screaming various insults at them. When the head begins to crown the father-to-be takes a peek underneath the blue sheet covering the woman and grimaces in disgust at what he sees under there. The people around the bed frown and clasp their hands together. The fifteen odd people waiting in the waiting room pace and worry.
A few minutes later, as the mother lies expectantly and neatly in her bed, a nurse walks into the room and with gloved hands passes over a clean and shiny four month old baby wrapped in a blanket. They smile at each other and everyone sighs.
I understand that a real, true and natural birth in all its powerful glory, would probably be too boring to get ratings. I just wish that birth on TV might sometimes be shown in a relatively real way. I wish that TV didn’t matter, and that people didn’t gain so much of their “knowledge” from watching it. But sadly, the media has a huge influence on what we think, say, believe and do.
I doubt that the portrayal of birth on television will ever change. The main reason it concerns me is because I have my own two girls, who may one day decide to have children of their own. I don’t want them to think that the story above is anything like what birth is all about. From now until that day arrives, I will be doing everything in my power to teach them about real birth. In my house, birth will never be something that is disgusting, painful, horrible, gross or worse: unspoken.
I hope that when my babies watch fake births on TV they will be able to watch and laugh, knowing a fact that is fast becoming a secret in our society: fake births on TV are just that, fake.
My hope for them is that they will reach down and be the first to touch their babies being born into this world. That they might be the ones to first see if they have birthed a boy or a girl. That they will enjoy the power of their bodies being unleashed as they meet their baby for the very first time. That they might lie quietly in the moments after giving birth holding their babies and feeling the warm, slick weight of them on their bare chests, no matter where they choose to be. That they don’t listen when people doubt or scoff at them. That even if things don’t go to plan, that they spend their pregnancies, and their lives, believing that they can give birth and that normal birth is a normal thing.
I hope that they grow up knowing that as women their bodies are capable of more mystery, subtlety, grace, power and miracle than they will ever be able to fathom. And that that is the real normal.
Am I the only person in the world with an internet connection who has only just seen this baby bath video? I have watched it three times, and only managed to hold back my tears upon the third viewing. Even little Birdie was saying, “Just one more time, ok?” Oh, it is beautiful, and I so wish I had seen it when I was pregnant. Maybe then I could have avoided this:
Twice. Oh dear. It got me thinking (yet again) about how we interact with babies. Poor little Pixie barely gets a moment of peace while she is awake due to having a rowdy big sister clanging around the place, although I am mindful of us all finding some quiet and calm and slow during the day. I always (read: always try to) give my girls a massage after their bath, but it is a bit more production-liney now there are two.
Today and tomorrow I am toddler free, meaning I get to spend some quality time with the pixie. Time that I had an abundance of when there was only one. Needless to say, after running a few errands this morning we got straight into a deep, warm bath. The pixie is now four months old so no where near as new and fresh and tiny as the babies in the video, but she did seem to love being in the water.
I ran the tap over her head, which I never would have thought of doing previously. I immersed her body in the deep water and she floated and kicked her legs. She watched the water rippling with our movement and light reflecting in from the window. She was amazed by the stillness and glassiness of the water which is very uncommon in her regular bath-time, where she lies in her baby bath seat watching Birdie spin and shriek about with toys bobbing everywhere and occasionally being splashed or squirted in the face with a yellow starfish. I held her over my submerged legs and stroked her, I poured warm water over her tummy and her back. We were in the bath for about half an hour, and in that time she did not let out a single sound. It was very quiet. And very lovely. For both of us.
Getting into the towel was another matter. I’d love to say that after thirty minutes of relaxation, listening to Deuter and the soft sweet nothings of her mama, that she promptly fell asleep in my arms. This was not so. She has only just fallen asleep in my arms. She was awake for five and a half hours after that bath. I keep wanting to insert desperate faced emoticons here but I’m sure you can picture my face right now, typing this one handed, five point five hours later…
Nevertheless, it was wonderfully calming and soothing and nice for two hot and bothered ladies.
How do/did you like to spend time with your baby? Are you a bells and whistles mummy or do you try to find moments of quiet for you and your little one? Are you like me, loving that video sick or does it make you feel weird?
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.
You all know the book, right? I thought of it tonight as I stood in the middle of my bedroom, N screaming the house down from her cot, “I NEED A TI-II-II-II-SUEEEE!” the baby wailing in my arms, “WAHHHHH” and Prince Charming knocked out on the couch with gastro. It was — IS — one of those situations where I have to laugh, or I might just end up huddled in a corner.
S has been treated today by my lovely osteo friend, as the breastfeeding was going downhill and tears increasing after each feed. It was like I was given a different baby after she left, I even managed to feed her for 20 minutes on one side this evening! That is a record and up from the two-three minutes she was taking at a time earlier today. Turns out the poor little pet has had a really knotted up tummy, which I suspected. If you have a newborn and you’re in doubt… actually, if you just have a newborn full stop, I highly recommend a trip to the osteo. Anyway, maybe the thrill of breastfeeding my baby in a calm and orderly manner has given me the positivity to get through this evening… although I know it’s not over yet.
N drifted off around 7.30pm after I went in and promised to come back after S was in bed (knowing she would most likely fall asleep before then!) S has fallen asleep about 20 times only to wake again a few minutes later. Each time I thought I had her I would go out to the kitchen and shove a few liquorice allsorts in my mouth and go to… heat up my dinner.
… stare longingly at my dinner that I cooked at 5.30pm, stone cold and hard on the bench. Walk back into the room, pick her up, rockety-rock. Eyes closed, back in the bassinet, tiptoe out… The fact that half the pack of liquorice allsorts is gone gives you an indication of how many times this was repeated. Two hours later as I type this she is in her rocker next to me, eyes half open, but not quite closed. Pretty much time for the next feed now. The good thing is she has been settled long enough for me to eat my dinner. Steak sandwich, minus the sandwich. The bread had gone crusty on the bench by the time I got to it.
Night all xo
* * * * *
Update, 10 minutes later: Aaaaand now I’m covered in spew. The baby’s, that is, not Prince Charming’s. That would really be something to be upset about.
It was deep in the night when I met you for the first time, one month ago today. We had a bit of a false start but once you decided you were really ready it only took 4 hours before you were in my arms. I wondered how I could have enough love to share between two children, knowing that it must be possible, and it certainly is. Your skin was so warm, glowing and soft in that moment. Everyone had cups of tea afterwards, we sat around talking about you, midwifery, the state of things, life. The night and day following felt foggy, like some strange split in time, I can still find the feeling of it and experience it again. Your big sister blew out a candle for you, Nanny brought a birthday cake. We ate lots of food and lay around, laughing, dozing. We stayed that way for over a week.
This week your face and spirit is opening up to the world. We are seeing you for the first time. You are finding our gaze and holding it, you’re smiling. Your favourite thing to look at is your sister, being silly and jumping around. I have a feeling that is not going to change for a long time. I am waking up too and slowly adjusting to our nocturnal cuddles in the dim light.
Our family feels full with you in it. It seems like we were just practicing at playing families before, now we are the real deal. Thank you for coming, we all love you so much.
Wow, two bebes… I have had a few moments of feeling rather pathetic, wondering how families with more than two babes cope? I look at someone like this and am in AWE.
Today is my first day alone with my two little birdies. It’s 11.15am and I have survived breakfast, had a shower and I am dressed, albeit in trackies. The kitchen is semi clean and I’ve had a coffee (two). Figure I’m doing ok. Pixie has slept through most of all this, so I am wondering what I will do when the newborn cloud has lifted and she is awake more. Any tips?