Last night you had your first bath at home. When the midwife bathed you in hospital, you screamed your lungs out and seemed inconsolable. So, to avoid all of us going through that agony again, I decided to take some advice from my mum (your omi) because apparently I hated baths just as much as you.
Your daddy ran water into the big bath and made sure it was a nice temperature, and then I hopped in with you cradled against my chest. We wet a little towel and draped it over you, managing your startle reflex and keeping you nice and warm. The whole time you were in the water, you looked completely blissed out—almost as relaxed as when we’ve just finished a feed.
While some information gets superseded by better evidence-based knowledge, there is so much wisdom to be gained by listening to the advice of our parents and grandparents, who have of course experienced it all before.
We had another big win this morning. The childcare nurse visited and we found out that you’ve put on 270 grams in five days! And we’ve been told that we no longer have to wake you up for feeds. Hallelujah!
We feel pretty damn proud of ourselves, and of you, little Wolf. As your nanna said when I told her the news, now we just get to enjoy watching you grow.
In sharing these letters on my website, I’ve been criticised for spending too much time behind a computer when I should be focused on my family. This criticism saddened me, not because I think it’s true (I’ve only been writing while you’re asleep), but because of what it suggests about how our society still views new mothers. Apparently, since you came into my life, I’m not allowed to have an existence outside of being your mum. What is so deeply upsetting about this is that I don’t think anyone would expect your daddy to meet the same criteria. Well, Wolfgang, that is not good enough for me.
As you learn and grow, I want you to see that your mum not only loves and cares for you, but that she has passions and interests, and that she makes time in her week to pursue her personal goals. That is the kind of mum I want to be, and the example I want to set for you.
I’m struggling today. My joints hurt and I can’t seem to find any energy. As you get older, you’ll learn that sometimes Mummy gets more tired than the other mums.
There are days when chronic illness kicks my butt. Then there are times when I can manage pretty well, but the battle with pain and fatigue can still be pretty tough. Even though I will always give you all my love, there will be days when I’m in too much pain and need an extra rest while you hang out with Daddy. This worries me, but your daddy reassures me that it will just be your normal. I hope my illness can teach you about empathy as you grow up—I have to believe there are positives buried within the conditions I deal with.
I’m struggling with my energy levels again today. My body feels heavy and sore and no amount of sleep feels like it could ever be enough. This is all completely normal for EDS and I guess my usual energy issues have been compounded by recovering from labour and getting used to our new routines.
Today your daddy and Pa went to Ikea to buy you a proper crib. This was the longest stretch of time you and I have been alone together since you were in my tummy. We did well together, even though you tried to scream the house down during your nappy change. You’ve been feeding every two hours today and I feel like all I’ve achieved is sitting with you at my breast. That, and nappy changes.
I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t anxious about your daddy returning to work. I know we’ll muddle through together, but while I adore the quality time with you, when you just won’t settle and nothing seems to soothe your tears, the hours can seem very long. We’ll find our way, little one, but I know the road won’t always be smooth.
Today you just want to be held. You’ve been doing so well sleeping in your bassinet and crib, but this evening you cry after a few minutes each time we lie you down. Your daddy and I have been taking turns rocking you and singing to you. I wish we knew what was upsetting you. We’ve made sure you have a clean nappy, are warm and have had your fill of breastmilk. We’ve burped you, we’ve raised your legs and gently bent your knees to relieve wind, and we’ve soothed you. But still you wake up screaming as if in pain.
The only time you seemed happy to stay asleep today was when I wore you in the baby carrier, so maybe you just wanted to be close and hear my heartbeat. Or perhaps being upright helped with the wind and/or reflux. Or maybe it was just a coincidence and your body finally had a break from whatever discomfort you were feeling.
I’ve never felt quite as helpless as when you scream and I don’t know how to make it better. I know there will be many things in your life that I won’t be able to fix for you, but for now, I’ll fix what I can.
Now that we’ve started to settle into our own routines and I no longer feel like all my actions are purely reactive, I’ve begun to contemplate my shift in identity—becoming a mum.
Even though I’ve considered myself a mother since I fell pregnant, it’s different now that you’re here. My universe is no longer me-centric; you’re smack bang in the middle. Another mum acquaintance said to me recently that she missed the days of being able to leave the house with only her keys and wallet. I get it. While I couldn’t be more ecstatic that you’re finally here, you and I are bound together, and that will take some getting used to.
My whole existence has been turned on its head, and I don’t think any amount of reading or studying can truly prepare you for that reality.
Tonight at 10:30pm you’ll be two weeks old. These past two weeks have been a paradox, both incredibly long and ridiculously fast. We’re getting to see you grow before our eyes. I cannot believe that I carried you inside of me such a short time ago.
We managed to go for a walk in the winter sunshine today. You fell asleep as soon as the pram was moving, yet it still felt like such a huge achievement to manage a circuit of the park at the end of our street.
It’s amazing how good it was for my mental health to make it outside into the sunshine and fresh air. Since getting home from hospital, I’ve been pretty much house-bound. While it has been precious, insulated time with you, I think I was also starting to feel a bit trapped. And at the same time, going out with you was feeling more and more daunting as each day went past. But we did it. We went for a walk together. You were rugged up and warm and peaceful, and had a lovely sleep.
It’s such a shame you woke up and started screaming the moment we got home and took you out of the pram. Ah well, hopefully practice makes perfect.
We’re working things out, you, me and Daddy. We’re getting better and faster at things like nappy changes and new outfits. We’re even starting to find our own routines for night feeds. But there are still so many things that we have no clue about.
Last night you were awake and screaming for several hours. (Was this the infamous witching hour?) You seemed to fall asleep for a few minutes but then would startle awake and start crying again. We felt so helpless. We could see how miserable you were, but we didn’t know how to fix it for you. We, of course, checked that you were warm, had a clean nappy and had had your fill of breastmilk. When none of these things needed attention, we were left with holding, rocking and walking around the house with you.
One day not so far off, you’ll be able to tell us what’s wrong. Until then, I promise we’ll always do our best to problem solve for you, little one. And if we can’t work out what’s causing you distress, we will always be there to hold you until it passes.
Today we received a special care package from our cousin, Amber. She’s travelling in America at the moment and she sent this package before you had even been born. You’ve begun your life in a family filled with so much love. So many people eagerly awaited your arrival. It means the world to me that we are surrounded by such care and support (even if some days your daddy and I just want you all to ourselves).
Omi visited today and it made me smile when I saw her sitting next you, watching you sleep. Last week you met your great-auntie Gilly, your cousin Chanté and your great-grandmother. They drove all the way from Wangarratta just to greet you.
At times, family can be a tricky thing, little wolf, yet I wouldn’t want to live without it. There is truly nothing more valuable than people in your life who love you unconditionally.
We saw the maternal/child health nurse today. Everything went well and you’re still growing like a champ, though I have no idea how anyone makes it anywhere on time with a newborn. This morning, by the time we had you fed and in a fresh nappy, I had barely 15 minutes to have a shower. Getting you, the pram and the nappy bag in the car was overwhelming to say the least. Thankfully, you remained unfazed and slept through both car trips and most of the appointment with the nurse. Taking you out into the world is still a scary prospect, but every trip out of the house, no matter how small, makes it feel that little bit more manageable.
We all napped this afternoon because you’d been up much of the night. The nurse thinks you’re suffering from colic. It seems highly likely as I was a very colicky baby. We’ll get you (and me) some probiotics and see if that helps. The way you pull your little legs up and squeal is enough to make me cry. If we could take all the pain and bear it for you, we would.