It has been eleven weeks since our baby joined us earth-side. He smiles, laughs and coos now. His arms flap in excitement and his legs kick like crazy. He makes his presence known and cries when discomfort or boredom strikes. He can also tolerate chilling in a bouncer or his high chair for a few minutes. Right now he is asleep in his cradle in our room while I type this on the sofa. That fact alone is a revelation. We embraced the fourth trimester to the fullest – but I won’t lie and say that coming out the other side isn’t a little bit sweet.
It’s hard to describe how quickly time is passing. His body is growing and he is all cheeks and double chins. His hands are fat and his rubber band wrists are deepening by the day. Before I had a baby I knew that it would be hard. I was prepared for the crying and the discomfort and the ‘babies be babies’ unanswerable questions. I was prepared for the love too. It’s the kind of love that makes you involuntarily grit your teeth because it’s all so cute it hurts. I wasn’t prepared for the monotony or the boredom or the loneliness. Babies are sweet but they are not good company. I am the first mama of any of my friend groups and at the breastfeeding meetings I feel a generation younger than everyone else. Husbands and house-hunting are not really on my radar right now. (Though if I win the lotto house-hunting is top of my list…just pass me the ticket!)
We named our baby Tadhg Cian – Cian after my cousin and Tadhg because we liked it. We call him Tiger-Tadhg. Every day we love him more. He likes to be cuddled and kissed and having his face rubbed.
It’s been 17 weeks since our baby was born. Six weeks since I wrote the above thoughts. I had no recollection of what I wrote, or that I even wrote it. Just like I rarely remember what day it is or if I brushed my teeth this morning (I did, today, for the record). Babies will do that to you. They are all consuming little beings.
I can’t even begin to unravel the past four months. How did I feel when my baby’s hot, damp, heavy body was placed on my chest for the very first time? It was a lifetime ago. I hardly recall how much it hurt and how I cried as soon as I saw my own mama, the weight of the past 14 hours suddenly washing over me. Who was that girl crying desperately in bed, wishing it would all be easier, wishing someone else could just feed the baby, just once? My body felt more foreign than ever before. And yet, I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world. It has all been the making of us.
“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”
– Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things.
Cheryl knows a thing or two about new mama-hood.
Our days have a rhythm to them now. I won’t bore you with the details but yesterday I got two solid chunks of ‘nap-time’ where Tadhg slept in his crib and I got to revel in the gloriousness of being alone. Right now he is screeching at me from his bouncer, a grin spread across his face. He smiles so readily. First thing in the morning when he mooches and groans all I have to do is say ‘good morning’ and look into his eyes and he BEAMS at me. Rich tries to get his attention and he complies with a flashy grin but quickly returns his heart eyes to his mama. After waking multiple times a night to feed and comfort him, I have to admit, it feels pretty good.
It is still lonely, and it is still strange to stay at home every day. I think the only way this would all feel perfectly balanced was if I had two bodies and could send one to work and leave the other at home with my boy. That’s not going to happen anytime soon and so I’m practicing making peace with the present.