Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Great expectations



Back when Jason took this photo, I had been dealing with almost an hour of Rivers relentless crying. He was literally inconsolable and everything I did made him scream even more; I tried changing him, feeding him, giving him calpol, squirting what seemed like a whole tube of teething gel into his mouth, singing to him, lying him down, playing him Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff (Jasons standard input. Actually does work 80 percent of the time). It was horrendous and I thought he might cry so much that he would pass out. Finally, I stripped us both off and held him skin-to-skin and he calmed almost immediately. When I shared the photo, everyone assumed it was just a nice posed photo, but really it was documenting the end of a seriously difficult, emotional evening for me. I was a new mum who was shit scared I wasn't doing it right - why wasn't it all heavenly and soft like I thought it would be? Life with a baby tests your resilience in new ways all the time and I don't think I ever expected that, but quite frankly I would go through hell and back for a post-cry cuddle from River any minute of the day. Even if it means having shit on my arm and snot in my hair. 

These past few weeks have been tough; Rivers sleeping habits have regressed dramatically and also our internet has been a bit shit which means Jason has struggled with poor quality streams of Liverpool matches. I honestly couldn't tell you which crying baby has been harder for me to deal with.
We've got a new bed which is so comfortable it's making us consider a bedsit lifestyle. Little did we know it was the loudest bed in the world and if you so much as blinked it would creak and Riv would awaken, squawking like an angry crow. So as you can imagine, I've been the moodiest bitch in the world, nearly strangling Jason if he even thinks about leaning over to get his phone off the bedside table. Thankfully he put on his DIY head (youtubed it) and fixed the creak which means I'm getting more than 45 minutes of sleep at a time and I don't have to keep dramatically sighing at him all night while he snores through literally everything. EVERYTHING. Even a kick in the back.
River has been ending up in our bed at 4am most nights because I'll have given up trying to settle him in his crib for the nineteenth time. The 'recommendation' is to have your baby in your room with you for around 6 months and then apparently you should miraculously expect them to sleep alone all night in their own room, get a job and then become financially independent by 7 months no problemo. So of course I've been punishing myself for the fact that River isn't sleeping well, let alone sleeping in his own room. I've been stressing so much about it that I've had those butt-ass ugly sty's on my eyes for weeks and I've barely had the motivation to brush my hair each morning. I've looked and felt like I should be in the bin, so how Jason still wants to be in the same room as me is baffling. I've been desperately googling the same thing over and over: how can I sleep train my baby? How can I set routines? How can Beyonce possibly look after all her kids while maintaining her weave? blah blah blah; to the point where I completely despair. But I've realised that all I'm doing is trying to live up to ideal expectations and I'm not listening to what MY baby needs. And what he needs is a million cuddles, the tité milk and the same episode of Thomas on repeat until I develop a nervous twitch. 

We've also been giving River the odd bottle now and then to get him used to it, incase we need to shut the breastaurant for the night and leave him with grandparents or Pierre. It took a few attempts to get him comfortable with it; it was nice to get past the stage where it felt like we were waterboarding him. But even that has been making me feel like a shameful fraudster of the breastfeeding world. I love feeding River myself and I'm so proud that I've kept it up so long, but unless the barman doesn't mind serving me my wine while a baby is dangling off my tit; how am I going to make sure he's fed? There's this backward expectation that if you choose to breastfeed then thats ALL you do and if you do give them a bottle, you're having a bit of a cheat. The politics of breast vs. bottle is so dumb and condescending it makes me wanna take a week-long nap. People will read this and tell me it's all in my head, but just take a browse on some mum forums and see the shitshows that go on; I've heard more sophisticated trash talk from Dwayne Johnson's mouth. 

Motherhood is nothing like you expect it to be and there are a multitude of issues that you're faced with to make you question your capability. It's been and will continue to be the biggest learning curve of my life and I'm forever indebted to River for the love he's enabled me to give. Googling the shit out of everything and comparing myself with other mums isn't going to make me a good mum; being present and letting River be who he is and making steps when he's ready makes me a good mum. When I look back at that photo, I think about how there will come a day when I won't have to comfort him to sleep anymore. I'm not sure why I'm trying to rush to that day because it'll break my heart a little bit when he doesn't need me. River Rain, you've far exceeded my expectations; let's have a cuddle till I'm 90, gorge.
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