Tuesday 30 October 2012

The Circle of Trust

I have now entered the Parent's circle of trust. Other parents look at you with a knowing smile as you walk down the street, pushing a newborn. There's an element of rarity to your condition, after all, babies don't stay babies for long. Yet, women have been popping* them out for centuries and along with the looks of pride over your present state, there is an underlying look of sympathy. They too recall their sleepless nights, the despair at feeding times, the incessant crying. They look at you, and you at them and you 'know' each other's condition. You suddenly have an overwhelming respect for womankind. How they survive these times is a mystery.

Yet here I am - still alive and so is my child. I remind myself of this everyday, as though I have achieved a miracle. He's still alive so I must be doing something right. He may cry for hours on end but at least it means he's breathing.

Friends kindly keep coming round to drop off meals for us which is an absolute godsend. I can't even imagine trying to cook beans on toast at the moment – I find myself sustained by whatever I can find in my kitchen cupboards. Whoever invented Haribo was a good man. However, what I am learning is that although Albie doesn't have a natural instinct to sleep when he's tired or feed effectively, he does have a natural instinct to know when MY mealtimes are. I hear the last beep on the microwave of my first proper meal of the day (and the third delivery of chilli con carne this week, not that I'm complaining) and little Albie decides he would like to wake up and scream. An hour later I return to my cold chilli and wolf it down. Then I write my woes in a facebook update, to which the circle of trust responds with comments of support. That is, until someone decides to post something on my wall along the lines of 'I was cooking Mousakka four hours after my baby was born' and the circle of trust relents by not 'liking' their comment and I 'de-friend' them out of sheer jealousy.

*Babies are not like pringles, they do not 'pop' and you DO want to 'stop'.

(Based on diary extract from 04/02/2011). 

Saturday 20 October 2012

It's official...

(Based on diary extract from 03/02/2011). 

It came to the point where we felt we should make Albie official and register his name at the town hall. This would also be a good test of whether we were capable of leaving the house with a baby. I prepared my bag - which has turned into his bag but I'm determined not to get one of those crappy nappy bags from boots and retain at least some sort of style (yes, I'm still wearing my knee-high c-section socks). Nappies, portable changing mat, breast pads, muslins, Lansinoh cream (only mum's know what that's for ;)), change of clothes, hat, toys.... I just about found enough room to fit in my purse and phone.

We then headed to the town hall. I felt quite proud walking down the road, carrying Albie in his car seat. Onlookers walked past and cooed and smiled and it made me feel like I was a celebrity (or was it that my socks were showing?!) As we waited outside the registrars office I noticed the name 'Lesley' on the door. Expecting to be greeted by a middle aged lady in a suit and heels, I was instead greeted by a very eccentric middle aged man like David Dickinson, with jet black hair and the bushiest eyebrows I've ever seen.

We told him the name "Albert Joseph Maltby", expecting those huge eyebrows to raise at such a traditional name but instead he typed it in quite matter of factly (maybe they were just too bushy to raise). "A-L-B-E-R-T,".... he carried on in an unhurried manner, typing each letter with one large stubby forefinger. "what I'm going to do is..." he started to speak in his deep-based, slow voice as though he was explaining something to a 5 year old, "I am going to type on the keyboard A-L-B-E-R-T. J-O-S-E-P-H. M-A-L-T-B-Y, and then the information goes into the computer here," he said as he pointed his left stubby finger to his computer screen. Neil and I were trying not to snigger but managed to compose ourselves. "And then what happens..." he said slowly, "is I press the print button here" *thud* (that was the stubby finger pressing down with as much force as I would use to get into a cadbury's chocolate orange), "and the information comes out here," he said, as he pointed to a rather large printer. Once we'd finished our crash course in computing, we proudly walked out with our official child to the cooing, smiling, adoring faces, as though I was suddenly transported to a Mary Poppins film. I held back the urge to break into song.

Thursday 11 October 2012

The Hopelessness graph

We finally get released from our prison sentence,
I mean, hospital!!

(Based on diary extract from 31/01/2011). 

I finally got out of hospital today after about a week, although I keep expecting another midwife to knock on my door with a clipboard of new policies stating why I have to go back in hospital. My emotions go from sheer joy to sheer hopelessness all day. If I plotted them on a graph it would look like a thrilling new roller coaster at Alton Towers. People keep telling me how amazing it is to have a baby but I can honestly say this has been the worst week of my life (eek, did I just say that?!). People look at me blankly when I say I'm not enjoying myself - as though all mothers have relished being drained of all resources for centuries (or maybe just been involved in the world's biggest conspiracy theory and they forgot to let me in on it). Well, I'm sorry I'm not one of them and I'm not going to lie about it either. I hear stories of women who gave birth in 3 hours, or didn't even take a paracetamol and I just want to cry. Deep down I feel like a failure.

I know it's just a bad experience; I was just one of the unlucky ones in that way (Oh yes, but the luckiest woman alive to have a beautiful healthy baby *disclaimer). I only have one more week of Neil being at home and I just don't know how I'll cope. I think we've got the fussiest baby known to man! He takes an hour to feed, then nearly as long to get off to sleep because he's so restless, then he wants feeding again! I'm left with no time in the 'routine' (erm, what routine?!) to do anything else unless Neil helps.

...but then I rock Albie to sleep and I pace the floor with him till my arms feel like they're about to drop off. He nestles his tiny head into my neck and coos. I feel his delicate soft skin against my face and his soft red hair. He smells of heaven and I just want to bottle it! I can see the graph in my mind's eye souring up the 'joy' scale again. That is, until he projectile vomits all over my shoulder and the graph takes a sudden sharp decline.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

The Jackpot

(Based on diary extract from 30/01/2011). 

I'm making the hospital my second home now. I've even landed my own private room which sounds very glamorous but in reality there's only so much glamour one can associate with being in isolation with a screaming child whilst wearing the rather fetching c-section bed socks and a 1960s style maternity bra (surely there's a market for something just a little bit sexier?!). Put it this way, I'm looking hot. And instead of the sound of other babies crying keeping me awake, I have the constant drone of the 'emergency' buzzers going off every few minutes down the corridor which sounds like I'm in some sort of amusement arcade, minus the amusement.
Except I have, in fact, hit the jackpot. I look down at Albie, my prize, who has finally gone to sleep on my sore and oversized belly and I just cry with love for him. I have never experienced anything so overwhelming and I feel like I'm going to burst. That's why this whole experience has been so hard - because I'm so desperate for him to be happy that it's almost a burden as well as a joy. I don't care that I'm in pain, or that I've had no sleep or that I'm constantly serving him - I expected as much. I just didn't account for the weight of the love.
There's a knock on my door and finally it's food time but the meat pie was not exactly what I was expecting and I have never craved fish and chips more in my life ;)
Hospital food had a lot to be desired... seconds anyone?!
This was the moment that my love for Albie hit me like a ton of bricks and I cried for about an hour (until his next feed!!) because I'd never experienced love quite like it