Getting through the First
Shit Six Weeks.
Six weeks. That golden milestone when everything is supposed to ‘fall into place’ for new mums and their infants. When routines are established; when bubs are less grizzly, and when eye sockets are no longer your most prominent feature.
42 days is like a lifetime though when drowning in tears; nights of 3 hours of (broken) sleep are considered a ‘win’, and when kilograms of mustardy poo and napisan ‘perfume’ your laundry. At five-and-a-half weeks, I am almost out the other side. Almost.
Here’s what I’ve learnt thus far…
1. If things don’t feel right, get help right away. Those ‘feel good’ hormones they talk about when you have your baby are real. I found them similar to the euphoric feeling from 2 glasses of wine – everything was brilliant. This ‘drunk on love’ feeling lasted the 3 days I was in hospital, then, like an explosive poo, I was hit with the realisation I was responsible for an incredibly vulnerable, tiny human, for the rest of my life.
Within the week of bringing my little man home, I got post-partum OCD – horrible (scary) intrusive thoughts, and was compulsively ‘checking’ things; his nappy to make sure his penis was down (so he wouldn’t wee in his clothes then freeze himself to death); his bed for SIDS risks; his mouth to make sure he didn’t swallow something. My constant checking annoyed him, my husband, and made me sleep deprived. If you find yourself not coping, in any way, get help immediately. This means speaking with your loved ones and asking them to go with you to your GP.
2. Position, position, position. Lower (read: relax!) you shoulders while breastfeeding, or risk becoming your remedial massage masseuse’s number one client. You’ll likely spend a lot of time with a child on your boob, who is only going to get heavier – make sure you’re comfortable.
3. Wind blows. Invest the time in learning how to burp your baby. Midwives told me ‘breastfed babies don’t need burping’ – definitely not the case for my little man. Learn how to burp them; otherwise you might be privy to many sessions of baby holding their breath, crying, then pooing out their body mass after a lot of gas pain.
4. Prevent golden showers. Unless a jellyfish has stung you or your baby boy on the face – hold his penis down towards the dirty nappy, and then the new nappy, during each change. Ignore / forget this at your peril.
5. Tell people to shut up if they say this: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Worst advice I ever received, causing me hours of frustration, stress and very melodramatic battles with my bedding. If you can sleep during the day – that’s great, if you can’t – just rest. Pressure to sleep, not surprisingly, STOPS YOU FROM SLEEPING.
6. Have a fight with the stroller at home. Do a dry run of erecting and collapsing your stroller before a trip out. Few things are more stressful than trying to open or collapse the stupid thing in a shopping centre car park when your baby is crying; people are waiting for a park, and while you’re trying to look like you’ve got your shit together. Swearing and WCWing a stroller will thwart this impression.
7. Don’t get too smug about having a good traveller. Yes, a baby who sleeps in the car is fantastic. Keep your initial car trips to a minimum though – as sleep they gain there, might result in them ready to go ‘clubbing’ in their cot that night.
8. Become a bit of a pig. Prioritise what housework actually needs to be done, then do a quarter of it. Learn to live in filth for a bit, or if you must – stack things. Rubbish is more tolerable when stacked in a pile.
9. Shave your freakin’ legs. And I mean that in the gentlest possible way. i.e. Have proper showers, for your sanity. This means inhale the scent of the body wash, wash your hair properly, and have some thinking time. Pencil in a shower in every day; otherwise you’ll end up a bit bitter, feel behind on the day, and pong.
10. That ‘bond’ they all talk about… You may not bond with your baby immediately, or for a few months. Do not feel guilty about this. You’ve gained a freeloading new housemate who keeps you up all night; spits up the dinner you made them; poos and wees everywhere; won’t tell you why they’re in a bad mood; screams randomly, and often won’t look you in the face. This will change eventually – soon you will be afforded a smile that doesn’t come before or after wind. It will be just for you, you’ll have eye contact, you’ll melt, and it will make it all worthwhile. Promise.