It feels like I’ve made it to the ‘other side’ now. Don’t get me wrong, the day to day with a baby is still full-on, however, I feel like my life is not such a blur anymore and I’m almost pretty sure it’s Wednesday today.
I love journaling and documenting and whilst it was quite hard to keep track of notes in the first few weeks after my baby was born, I tried my best to scribble some things down to make sure I would remember them later. Even the parts I didn’t want to remember really (...sigh).
So, that’s what the following lines are about. The things I learned on the job, the surprises, the coping well or not so well with many challenges. I did enjoy my fourth trimester, but not all of it…
So, here we go.
Let’s start with going home. Our hospital didn’t have parking close by so we went home by taxi. It felt quite surreal to me… there I was on the back of a cab, looking at the smallest human, tired as I’d never been before, and about to start the biggest adventure of my life.
We had discussed having people around for the first few days or not, as we’re both from out of London (I’m actually from out of the country) and people would have to travel and find accommodation to come and help mid-pandemic. My mum and sister ended up travelling here just before Mia was born and stayed for a couple of days afterwards which ended up being the best. We were so tired that the extra two pairs of hands (and cuddles) were very useful. We went right into our newborn bubble as a new little family of three right afterwards so I felt like we had the best of both worlds.
Then the Googling started.
I’m not joking. I’m a planner. I read everything, I did the courses, I listened to the podcasts. But, oh boy, I wasn’t prepared.
“Should I wake her up to eat? How on Earth do you cut a newborn’s nails? Is this poo runny or just right? (TMI, I know!)”
This was also the week we went out for the first time. And by going out I mean literally around the block for five minutes. It was wild.
Another note I made from this week was about Baby Blues. An expression which I don’t like as I feel it minimises something that can be quite scary by sounding too cute, but hey, here we are.
I have anxiety and had my ups and downs before and I was honestly scared of the said Baby Blues, or PPD, or of its less famous mate PPA. I didn’t feel like I needed professional help at this stage in my life, which was fortunate, but I was aware that my brain was all over the shop, so I asked my GP for resources in case I felt like I needed them. Having those on hand made me feel safer and eased up my (existing) anxiety. I was also careful about my conversations and my social media consumption, as I felt like I had no mental space for some stuff at that time.
I swear London’s 30 degrees are different from anywhere else’s 30 degrees.
Now that we had mastered dressing baby girl without much screaming, she just lived in her nappy. Which gave us time to master other things like TOGs in sleep sacks, tucked in blankets, swaddles, doing everything with one hand only, and other exciting new things.
Looking back, I also wrote down “belly button” on my notes, but I have no idea what this was about. Her belly button seems fine now.
I think this was the week I had my epiphany about expectations. I learned that if I didn’t expect to do anything but keep the baby fed, kind of clean and happy-ish, I would be fine. Groundbreaking, I know.
But honestly, it helped. I found myself getting frustrated and anxious about what I couldn’t do, or didn’t have time to do.
So I decided to try to let go of what I expected to do. Sometimes I would get dressed and go to the park, sometimes I didn’t leave the bedroom until 2 pm. We were living on such little sleep anyway.
This gave me space to get into more of a routine and focus on key things like drinking water, eating something, shower sometimes. Back to the basics and it felt quite freeing.
My partner went back to work this week and, oh my, I was so scared. I was going to be alone with the baby for a whole day, and then a whole week for the first time. But guess what, it was hard, but it was fine.
Yes, she cried a lot, I probably cried a little more, the house was a mess but the Olympics were on and we watched it together and went to the park, and the shop, and I felt like a superhuman for doing all these things alone so yay!
Oh, it was also the first day I left the house without the baby to go get my Covid vaccine and it felt like I had left a lung at home. Not fun!
“The baby smells weird”
Something called milk neck happened? So, Mia doesn’t like the bath. At all. She cries the most blood-curdling cry and wriggles and it’s a terrible time for everyone, so I wasn’t surprised when her neck folds were somehow neglected.
Why am I telling you this? Because I didn’t know and it ended up being quite problematic because she got a rash and it was super uncomfortable and it took ages to pass. Now we clean it religiously and it’s been fine since.
This was the only note I had on week 6 so consider yourselves warned!
I felt a bit more human.
I started exercising a bit by walking further and further. This was also helped by the fact that Mia stopped hating any sort of transportation device. We’re still working on the car seat and baby carrier but we love the pram and the pram takes to a lot of places.
I also tried baby yoga at home and that didn’t work. I can stretch in a few years, I guess.
ALSO, the first overnight trip away from home happened. It was big but I think we got it a bit easier because Mia is my partner’s parents first grandchild and they bought EVERYTHING we needed and set it up at their home. So it was a home away from home with a 3-hour train journey in between. Thumbs up to travelling from our side!
Back to work-ish and a new concept of time.
I mean, here I am at work writing this! I decided to go back to work for one day a week on Week 8 because I wanted one day off full-on baby time and my partner wanted a day of full-on baby time, so it worked out very well.
Time is now a weird concept and I can be unbelievably productive at times or just spend too much time looking at Mia’s photos while I’m away. Good job I work with cute babies too!
Week 9 - Week 11
I swear this was a blur…
Travelling by plane.
This was probably the first big trip we did. We took baby girl to meet the rest of the family in Portugal and it was wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I wrote a whole blog on travelling that I had researched when I was still pregnant which was super helpful. You can read it here.
Ufff and that was it. My 4th trimester, the most intense 12 weeks of my life, but also the most rewarding. I feel stronger, I sometimes feel like I could do anything now!
And it’s not just what older people say, time flies by. There were times when all I wanted was for those 12 weeks to pass quickly. Now, I find myself missing them already.
What a trip!