Being Mum: The First Month
How do you even begin to talk about the first month of motherhood? Do you start with the birth? Being a mum commences well before then in my book, but nailing down that exact moment you transition to Being Mum is as hard as identifying the point at which you became a Grown Up. One day you wake up with a husband and mortgage and you’re a Full Blown Adult.
I wanted to put down a few words on this past month because my mashed potato brain just doesn’t retain information like it used to and we all know how good the Internet is at immortalising our innermost thoughts. I’ve been keeping a diary for Baby (let’s call her Poppy because that’s exactly what we did) on what we’ve been up to each day but the more personal reflections I’ve made on my new role as a Primary Caregiver have until now just floated around my head in utter privacy.
We’ll start at the end (of pregnancy), because it’s widely accepted that you’re a Mum once the baby ceases to be on the Inside and emerges wet and hopefully screaming to the Outside. Here’s a relevant image of me on my due date that is mostly unhelpful on account of the unrealistic expectation it gives you of when your baby might actually be born.
On that note, Poppy was born 5 days after her due date, the details of which warrant their own post in the near future. So for argument’s sake I became a Mum at 11.18pm on September 9, 2015.
The first few hours were a relief (if you don’t count the stitches). No more contractions, no more pushing – just a squirming little lady baby who made funny noises and was an intriguing blend of me and my husband. It was the moment we’d been waiting for and it was a fuzzy haze of excitement/bewilderment/relief. At 3am Simon went home for a sleep and the midwives left us alone to get reacquainted in our new skin-to-skin situation.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little baffled with what to do with her to begin with. She was nice to look at, made lots of strange noises that I wasn’t sure how to decipher and didn’t seem to run to any set schedule. The midwives kept asking how many wet nappies she’d created recently and I actually asked for a second opinion on the wetness of one nappy before the magic blue line was explained to me (not unlike mood rings and hypercolour t-shirts).
I thought I’d want to stay in the hospital and get all the help I could from the midwives before being set loose in the parenting jungle, but the reality was I was ready to go home the next day after staring at the same curtains for hours on end. I had been largely left to my own devices which I figured could carry on in the comfort of my own home.
Simon was shown how to bath her and then we were discharged. We encountered our first challenge – the Car Seat – on our exit. A dark carpark and too-short seat belts nearly had us foiled but Daddy/Macguyver was all over it and soon we were headed home with a securely restrained infant, driving more smoothly and safely than we ever had before.
The first of many visitors came by within hours. Over the next couple of weeks we survived on cake and cups of tea, or at least that’s what it felt like but in reality Simon took over the kitchen and made us lots of healthy and delicious meals. I spent a lot of time sitting on a cushion on the couch (hello swelling akin to a Big Mac between my legs) and the 2-3 hourly cycle of feeding, burping, settling and sleeping rolled over and over and over. It was a strange feeling to be waited on hand and foot but by the time I came to accept the help without feeling weird, I almost didn’t need it any more. Mental note – make the most of this next time.
Our first venture out of the house was Day 3. It took 15 or 20 minutes to walk/shuffle the 450m to Coles but the sun was shining and the fresh air was a, well, breath of fresh air. On Day 7 I made it to the cafe and back, around 2km but the wooden chairs there weren’t much fun. Over the next week we mastered the Ergobaby and took in the sights of Highpoint Shopping Centre and the Fitzroy Market. All this out-and-about wore us both out a bit but I’d been determined not to remain cooped up inside and Melbourne was actually turning on some beautiful spring weather.
When she was 17 days old, I took Poppy on her first flight to Adelaide. Simon drove over with Banjo but I couldn’t do 9 hours in the car that would turn into 14 hours with feed and change stops. She slept through being passed around at a family birthday party, and slept through both flights bar a quick feed on each descent. So far we’ve fed in the back seat of the car, food courts, cafes, parent rooms, at parks and ovals, an outdoors store change room and an art exhibition. I’m relieved that breastfeeding is (so far) pretty straightforward and more pleased that I am able to do it than I am worried about doing it in public.
The month came to an end with our first Mother’s Group meeting and 4 week Maternal Health Nurse visit. Pop had gained almost 700g in 2 weeks which was reassuring on the milk front and meeting 8 other first time mums was reassuring on the social and mental front. We talked about what a “good” baby is and when people ask if yours is a good baby, they’re usually asking if they sleep well.
Poppy is a good sleeper, a good feeder and mostly quite content in between. The 4am feeds are the hardest as I battle to stay awake and not put the clean nappies on backwards but I definitely think we got lucky with this little lady. I’m lead to believe that you can never take one pattern for granted because things can change from one day to the next but for now, we’re just enjoying our little spring blossom, sharing some goofy smiles and getting through each day with as few milk spews as possible.