Today is a day for celebration. I really didn’t think I’d make it this far.
There was a time, in the depths of new parenthood, where I couldn’t imagine living through another night of misery, let alone 10 years. I don’t really know why they call it the ‘baby blues’, when in reality it feels like the ‘baby bottomless pit of despair.’
The minutes, hours, days, weeks, from the very beginning, merged into one endlessly long stretch of greyness. From the very beginning, I was the woman in the post-natal ward that had the baby that screamed endlessly. Occasionally a more confident Mother would crack at around 3am and try to help, emerging through my curtain to find me ready to thrust my newborn baby into her arms, wearing nothing but my disposable underwear and completely out of fucks. From the very beginning, I was out of my depth.
The weeks went on and it didn’t get any easier. The baby would cry endlessly, I would cry endlessly. The Health Visitor would call me over and over again and I would just watch the number flash up. I didn’t understand how anyone could enjoy this, or be good at it.
About 6 weeks into this shit show I decided I was going to pull myself together. For me, that meant I would regain some control by inexplicably imposing a gruelling beauty routine on myself, as well as fulfilling the demands of a difficult baby, and you know, just try and keep myself from fully losing my shit. No pressure.
There’s a photograph of me, my husband and the baby, all looking happy & glowing from that time. Obviously, I was glowing in an ‘Is she jaundiced? Or is she just terrible at fake tan?’ kind of way. And I really was terrible at fake tan. The night that photo was taken, I got so sick lets just say my brand new sofa was never quite the same. I spent the night in hospital being rehydrated and the next few days drifting in and out of consciousness panicking that I’d fucked up my milk supply.
Obviously that whole “pulling myself together” plan didn’t quite work out. A combination of time passing, medicine and the endless support of a shell shocked husband and extended family seemed to do the trick eventually.
Isn’t it weird when you look back the things that stand out? In summary, here’s the main things I remember from my first year as a parent:
- I handed my baby to a stranger at 3am whilst wearing paper pants
- I cried down the phone to my husband most days
- I shat on my own sofa
- All everyone ever said was “it’ll get easier soon”
And you know what, I don’t know what qualifies as soon, or when it actually happened, but it did get easier. At least in a physical sense - I was less exhausted, I understood the mechanics of child rearing and I started venturing out of the house and spending time with other people.
Now the rest of the decade may have filled up with new problems - logistics, discipline, morality etc etc. but I don’t feel the same desperation. I know I can survive whatever life throws at me.
Today, I have been a Mother for ten years, and it’s a day for celebration.