My baby is over two months old. I feel that only now am I emerging from what has been the most physically and emotionally testing time of my life.
I fell in love with her straightaway. As soon as she emerged, pulled out of her safe haven by cold forceps into the harsh hospital light covered in shit and screaming, I loved her. That moment was the most beautiful and defining moment of my life. Each day since I have loved her more as she has developed and swollen her personality, rewarding me at the darkest of times with an impromptu smile or gurgle.
I’ve suffered sore, cracked and blistered nipples. Raw, stretched and burst weeping stitches. Piles. Anal fissures. Sleep deprivation and utter exhaustion. My marriage has also been tested. As much as my world has changed and I have become this scarred and tired - but loving - being, my husband’s life has continued more or less as normal. It’s difficult not to throw an icy glance in his direction when he complains of tiredness when he’s had a nine hour sleep. Or, yell with frustration when he arrives late home because he “deserved” a beer after work on a day when the baby has just Not. Stopped. Crying.
But you learn to see things from his point of view. And you learn that neither marriage not parenthood lend themselves to point scoring.
Support, for me, has come from the emotionally and physically tested mothers I have met along the way. Women who I previously did not know are my lifeline. We text each other our questions, our fears and frustrations and reveal our inadequacies at all times of day. We visit each other and receive visitors dressed in our oversized Tshirt nighties. We breastfeed in front of each other and, later, we learn to do this in front of everyone. These women have helped insurmountably in shaping my confidence as a mother.
Life for me won’t return to how it was pre-baby. I shan’t ever work a 14 hour day to put a magazine to press and then drink two bottles of prosecco and get the last tube home. Mainly, because I now live on Brighton and there is no tube here and ten months of no alcohol means this would kill me. But, also, there is nothing that will keep me from my baby for that amount of time. And, I’m now pretty shit hot at time management.