The first few weeks after having a baby are a blur of broken nights, dirty nappies, feeding and cuddles. You exist in this cocoon, a bubble away from normal land, where everything is focused on your new little bundle and their needs. Gradually, as the weeks pass, the bubble starts to get smaller until it pops, and you realise that you’re no longer in babyland, you now live in normal land, with a baby.
This is all very nice as long as things run smoothly. Normal land requires you to have half a brain, you see. You need to remember stuff – appointments, school activities, work meetings and how to access your email. It’s very difficult to take part properly in normal land if your baby has been up most of the night and is having a growth spurt-related feeding frenzy. You just want to keep your PJs on and go back to the days when you could sleep when your baby sleeps, like you did when you lived in babyland.
This week has been the first since my second baby was born ten weeks ago, where I’ve felt physically torn between babyland and normal land. My baby girl’s first noticeable growth spurt (which has meant a couple of days where she’s fed every two hours throughout the night and every hour during the day) has coincided with the busiest week in my four year old’s school calendar.
If she was my first baby I could have slept when she slept – instead of rushing around to get us all up, dressed and out of the house by 8.30am, trailing whatever was needed for the school activity that day (sausage rolls, party outfits, dressing up clothes, Christmas cards). And if I wasn’t self-employed then I could have ignored the emails about potential new work projects and switched off my phone, instead of trying to type one handed with a feeding baby in the other arm.
It’s only inevitable that I’ll drop a ball sooner or later and that day came on Wednesday. It was Frog’s school Christingle service at church and I’d misread the text telling all parents to meet at school to collect their child’s Christingles before taking them to church for the service. Frog was really excited to show me the Christingle she’d made earlier that day. She was literally skipping with glee at the thought of eating the jelly beans and raisins on it. So I knew I’d messed up big time when, sitting in an empty church wondering where everyone was, children started to file in with their parents holding their Christingles. It was too late to go to school, so I had to tell Frog she wouldn’t have her Christingle and explain that I’d made a mistake. Obviously she cried, and obviously I felt awful, cursing myself for not being better at juggling and remembering stuff and being Super Mum.
But today is another day and it’s made me realise something. I can’t go into the new year with unrealistic expectations of what I can manage. I’m still working out exactly what that is, but in the meantime I’m going to stick my head back into babyland for a little while longer, before working out how to make babyland and normal land exist happily side by side.
If you have any tips, I’m all ears.