a state of naiveté
The dictionary defines naiveté as “the state or quality of being inexperienced or unsophisticated”. By this definition I have been naive about many things in my life, not least of all, parenthood. What a fool I was believing that pregnancy was going to be the hardest part of my journey in to motherhood. “Just you wait”, my friends would say, and I’d reply, “you haven’t had my pregnancy, it can’t get any worse than this”. Well my dear, sweet friends, you were right. I didn’t know what I was in for.
The first thing I experienced as I lay in my hospital bed that first night was a strange separation anxiety, not from my newborn who was in special care for the first 24 hours with breathing difficulties, but that my pregnancy was over. My big tummy was gone, the long journey was over, and because I’d gone in to labour 3 weeks early I hadn’t had a chance to process the idea before I was being wheeled in to surgery for a c-section. I didn’t get to say goodbye.
The experience of holding my tiny son in my arms the first time was surreal. There were tears. But not the undying love kind of tears, the holy shit what have I done, how will I ever manage this kind. I was all together overwhelmed and bewildered. Looking down at this little, helpless baby, I was utterly terrified. Even now, over a month later, I still look at him and wonder how something so small and powerless can be so scary.
The feeding, changing, settling and nurturing have come much more naturally to me than I expected. And it’s easy to love him, he’s part of me, and he is utterly gorgeous and delicious. He’s a well behaved baby, as much as a newborn can be. He only cries when he’s hungry or uncomfortable. He’s not particularly whingey or difficult. I just never expected it to be so intense and so all-consuming and constant.
I said he only cries when he’s hungry… But he’s hungry every 2 hours, day and night. He goes from sleeping peacefully to screaming down the house and writhing in the pain of starvation in about 30 seconds. A bottle takes a good 5 minutes to prepare and heat up (oh how I wish I’d been able to breast feed!) so that doesn’t really give you enough time to be ready before all hell breaks loose.
Everything about my life and the person I was in January has changed. I am already a mum first and foremost in people’s minds. Even my birthday cards last month were all about celebrating my first birthday as mother. And my greatest fear was realised within days of getting home from hospital. My marriage is neither mine or my husband’s priority anymore. He had to go back to work after a few days and goes to bed early every night while I stay up on night duty with the baby. I sit in the lounge room each night waiting for the next feed to roll around and all I want is to be in our bed, in his arms. I miss him. I am exhausted all the time and don’t feel or even look like myself. I can’t imagine ever having the energy for passion or fun again.
I love my little Bug and sometimes I just sit and stare at him, unable to believe he’s mine. But I am lost. All my friends tell me, it gets better. The first 8 weeks are the hardest. Enjoy it as much as you can because he’ll grow up so fast. I am too tired to be able to even fathom the idea that life will get back to normal one day, that I will feel like myself again eventually. After almost an entire year of being this sick, miserable, scared woman how will the person I was before even remember how to exist?