Our First Month With George
I have been overwhelmed by the response to my previous post on our first week with George. Thank you to everyone who read it and shared their own thoughts and experiences with me.
I know some readers are expecting bubbas, and I want to let you know that things get so, so much better. In the style of my previous post, I have tried to assemble all my thoughts and the lessons I learned into some sort of narrative. Please do let me know if there is anything else you would like me to write about. I am so enjoying sharing what I am learning through this complete rollercoaster of early motherhood. Here goes...
Feeling guilty is ok
As you might expect, having a child has turned our lives upside down. Very early on I felt a deep, instinctive love for George that I cannot describe. But the ability to appreciate that loving feeling every waking minute was and still is hard, especially when sleep evades you time and time again. And that made me feel incredibly guilty. I felt so gutted when I found myself resenting his cries. Here we were, blessed with a beautiful, healthy child - a blessing that not everybody has - and I was not loving every minute. What kind of horrible person was I?
I panicked about life never being the same again. And it won’t ever be. But day by day, I came to realise that all is not lost from our ‘old life’. Things are not binary. As George grows and we gain confidence in taking him out and about, we will again enjoy the buzz of London. George will not always be solely dependent on me, and I am sure that before I know it I will be wishing we were back in this snuggly early baby stage with him. I discussed my feelings at length with Sam and it turns out we were both harbouring the same anxieties. Talking it through helped so much, and I started to feel a little less horrible about myself. We both love George to pieces. But loving every single minute of parenting him is unrealistic, and that is ok.
Routine is the new buzzword of our little London house
It took just over two weeks for George to regain his lost birthweight. During that time we set alarms and fed him every three hours, meticulously noting how long he spent on each breast and the colour of his poos, which indicated whether he was getting enough hindmilk versus foremilk. We celebrated the change in colours much like one heralds in a new season, with nicknames like 'poo poo zela' (think 'vuvuzela'). Yes, life has definitely changed and friends, please still hang out with us?
As soon as George was back on track weight-wise, I began to obsess about getting him into a routine. I yearned to be able to plan my day again, and try and claw back another hour of sleep or two. I’m still obsessing. He’s yet to sleep from 11pm through until 7am which is currently the stuff of dreams for me. There are no less than three heavily thumbed books dotted around our house each with their own somewhat conflicting theory and approach to feeding and sleeping. Most agree however that you can’t expect that beautiful run of sleep until about three months in. My fingers are permanently crossed.
We are loosely following Gina Ford’s routines and things are slowly taking shape, with George only waking once between 11pm and 7am rather than twice. Sam has also started to give George the 11pm feed with a bottle of my milk so I can get a longer run of sleep. This means my boobs effectively ‘miss a shift’, and are super bouncy at the 3/4am feed. Poor George looks like he is trying to latch a trampoline. It takes a couple of goes for him to get it, during which time his face gets all wet from my milk and it becomes a bit of a slippery endeavour. It’s all rather hilarious. The faces he pulls are just priceless too.
Whilst George is on his eat-sleep-poop-repeat routine I’ve been working on one of my own: talk-sleep-live-repeat. Talking to fellow mothers in those early days helped me immensely. Their honest words of wisdom were so valuable and I found myself repeating their sentiments in my head during trickier moments. One mother said it takes a while to ‘feel whole again’ which I completely related to. Another mother pointed out how so far in life, things have been relatively easy to control. You have a general sense of what inputs were needed to realise certain outputs. Then a baby comes along, and they don’t work like that at all. They are unpredictable, and what might have worked yesterday no longer works today.
I oddly have been taking pleasure in mundane household tasks. I will rinse a plate, put it in the dishwasher, run the dishwasher and voilà - clean plate! If only babies were so predictable. A dear friend got me onto this article: “Before I forget: what nobody remembers about new motherhood”. I strongly recommend reading it, it is so on point. ‘Getting on with life’ is no longer simple, and in the early days doing a load of washing and having a shower before midday was a triumph. Sam and I decided right at the beginning to not push ourselves too much, and we only recently hosted friends for pancakes. Accompanied by prosecco. Of course.
Sleep is the best tool to surviving those first few weeks, and I admit I still need to be more strict with myself about grabbing it where I can. It is so tempting to do another chore, cook a meal or see people while George is napping. I have found it really hard, especially as my time with Sam has dwindled. George goes down at 7pm, and then I go down at about 8:30pm, leaving a precious hour and a half with Sam in the evenings. But I really notice a shift in my mood and attitude if I bank as much sleep as possible. More sleep helps equip me to deal with the curved balls George likes to throw. And I know that hopefully, soon enough, George will be sleeping better through the night.
George is now much more animated than his early eat-sleep-poop-repeat routine, gifting us smiles and giggles which just melt our hearts. Our phones are full of pictures of his ever changing face as we try to mop up every new expression and moment with him. We both know that even during the tougher moments, we will look back on this time and miss this gorgeous little baby stage immensely. And with that, I’m off for a cuddle.
With love, Kate