Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More secrets of motherhood

I’m no expert, but I have collated these thoughts over the last few weeks, jotting them down when and where I could. These are things I have either figured out for myself, or others have told me and I have found invaluable. I hope they can be of some use to other new or soon-to-be mums. It has taken me about two weeks to put this together because you never have more than half an hour to yourself, but there it is. Another long post, but hopefully useful.

  1. I bought a 1.5 litre pump pack sorbolene and glycerine. It is a great all-rounder for cleaning bottoms and as baby bath. You can use an old face washer or squares of flannelette and a squirt of s&g instead of expensive disposable baby wipes. Just soak the cloths in napisan and wash with the other baby clothes.
  1. When I was pregnant my feet swelled terribly. I went into a shoe store to find a pair of sandals that fitted. The helpful sales lady chirpily informed me “many women find their feet never go back to the same size again”. “You’re shittin’ me” I said (or words to that effect). “No, it’s really common, you’ll have to buy a whole new lot of shoes” she said, smiling “now, what size of these sandals am I getting for you?” “Ten. Maybe ten and a half”.She wasn’t wrong. My feet, now no longer oedematous, are a whole size larger.

My old shoes look like my shoes, they feel like my shoes, but it’s like trying to wear someone else’s. An evil shoe fairy has come ans swapped all my shoes for ones that don’t fit.

This wouldn’t be so bad if I’d gone from, say, a seven to an eight, but try finding funky heels when you find yourself a very flat size eleven.

  1. Sleeping after the baby is born is definitely a change. Yes, you will sleep more soundly when you are asleep, because you no longer have to wake up every time you want to turn over. However, the times that you are awake, you have to be much more awake, and this can be as frequent as every hour and a half. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really have to be that awake to stumble to the loo for a pee, but changing a nappy is a whole new deal. Also you will be awake for longer; even on really good nights, it still takes at least half an hour to feed, change and re-settle P. A wee never took that long.
  1. I thought having 6 months off work with maternity leave would be the most wonderful, welcome thing I could do. However, P’s now 9 weeks old and I’m secretly wishing I could go back to work -one day a week. One day a week when I could use my brain. One day a week where I wasn’t constantly tied by my nipples to a small screaming infant. One day a week where I could have intelligent conversation. One day a week when I had more than going to the shops for a loaf of bread to look forward to. One day a week of not being at home. Six months ago I would not have thought it possible to think this way, but now it’s boring me shitless.
  1. Here is the honest truth. I have post natal depression. I’ve been trying to put it off; I’ve been trying to ‘not get it’. I feel so bad that I have, I feel like I have failed in some way, as if there were some way I could possibly avoid getting it, but I know that’s about as useless as trying to avoid seasonal asthma by wishing really hard. But I can’t avoid it- it’s now inescapable, it’s not something I’ve done wrong; it’s just there. I was warned pre-natally I have loads of risk actors: older, well-educated first-time mum with a past history of depression and some difficulty (!) staying pregnant. Now here’s the really sucky thing: I have sought help, but would you believe, in this, the 6th largest city in the country, I can’t get an appointment with a counsellor for 3 weeks! 3 weeks!!! What’s the frigging point of asking for help if you can’t get any! I’d love to know exactly what I am supposed to do in the meantime? (What I am doing is keeping busy, excercising and reading everything I can on CBT. Oh, and my friends who are GPs are trying to pull some strings). It’s all very well to tell women that they need to not tough it out and ask for help, but, seriously, this is ridiculous. I’m lucky that my depression really isn’t that bad (my Edinburgh is about a 9); imagine if it was! I know mental health in this country is undersourced, but, really, there has to be something better. I’m lucky in that I can play the “I’m a doctor” card and queue jump, so I don’t know what other women do.
  1. Get yourself a really expensive, beautiful indulgent bottle of shower gel or soap. (I recommend Jurlique Rose Shower Gel; smells gorgeous, leaves your skin soft, and is actually reasonably cheap at $20 a bottle). Do not discount the restorative power of a hot shower. There is no baby problem too urgent that you can’t have a shower (ok, discounting actual medical emergencies). No baby ever died from crying (well, no baby without some sort of congenital defect), and once he or she is fed, changed, dressed and in a safe place and still won’t stop crying, you close the door, turn on the shower and use that shower gel. If you put your head under, you can’t hear anything else. This is ten minutes (ok, less if you have strict water restrictions!) of time for you. Good for your body and your soul. Likely your baby will still be crying when you finish, but at least you will be clean, in new knickers, and smelling good.
  1. Cravings don’t go away when you stop being pregnant. I still have a $5 a day chocolate milkshake habit that is proving very difficult to, eh-hem, shake, and is threatening to undo all the good weight loss from breastfeeding and is putting a dent in my savings.
  1. Another thing that people won’t tell you is that this job can be horrible. There are days when you don’t like your baby. There are days when you regret becoming pregnant, days when you hate being a mother. The funny thing is that it is ok to feel this way, because most women do. You just won’t hear them say it. That’s the honest truth. There are some moments when I get so frustrated with my baby, when I just want him to shut up and leave me alone. But then you look at this tiny helpless thing and immediately feel guilty, which invariably makes you feel worse. Such is the burden of motherhood. It’s not pretty, but there it is.
  1. Bonding isn’t an instant thing for every woman. I am still having difficulty believing that P came out of me. I love every bit of him from his soft, downy hair to his tiny, perfect toenails, but he still doesn’t feel like mine. Other women have told me they didn’t feel bonded for at least 3 months, so I’m not alone. It’s another one of those things that many women won’t admit to, because it sounds so wrong. It isn’t; it’s perfectly normal.
  1. I’d like to recommend The Tao of Poo by Vivien Elizabeth Glyck. Ok, she does crap on about auras and goddesses a bit in chapter 4, but, hey, whatever rubs your Buddha. It was she who said it was ok and normal to not like your baby every minute of every day, and that feeling out of control is normal.


  1. How does a baby get dirt under his fingernails? It’s not like he’s been working on my motorbike in his spare time. Bizzare!

8-9 weeks is proving to be a really good age. P is far more interactive: if I was clever with things like that I could put a recording on here of our little “Conversation Game” where he says “Goo” and I say “Goo” and we volley little babbly noises at each other with big smiles for 15 minutes or so. He also is less unsettled when he is put down and will look intently at things like his mobile for quite some time, without needing to be cuddled or picked up. He is also doing that thing which may not be spoken aloud for fear it will go away: he is sleeping through. Not every night, but many nights he goes to bed at 2200 and does not wake again until 6 o’clock in the morning. This would be wonderful if it were matched by an ability on my part to sleep for eight hours uninterrupted, but my body has other ideas. Its either wanting to pee (out of sheer habit, now) or boobs that are used to two-hourly feeds during the day bursting with ‘milky goodness’. [Oh, btw, I’ve found if you put a big blob of lanolin on your nipples, the breast pads will stick to them and that way you can roll around in bed without the pad moving away from the boob and you waking up in a puddle of sticky milk].

It’s torture- the one thing that I crave is a big, long, uninterrupted sleep, but my body is so conditioned to waking that I don’t imagine this will happen for quite some time.


Anonymous J-Le said...

wow. thanks. seriously, why doesn't anyone write this stuff in the books? good luck with the counselling - you're right about the mental health resourcing problems in this country.

26/4/07 16:10  

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