On September 12th 2019 I gave birth to my little boy, Archie.
In those last few weeks of pregnancy I was inundated with the classic, “sleep while you can, because you won’t be doing much sleeping when the baby arrives!”, “are you prepared for a screaming baby?”, “are you prepared to forget what sleep is?” and so on. Those kinda comments are annoying and unhelpful, so if you have a pregnant friend and you’ve found yourself saying one of the above, or anything else to the same, slightly patronising nature, just… don’t. To be completely honest, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could’ve prepared me for the sleepless nights, the screaming baby, or any of the other absolutely crazy things that come with this bloody wild thing that is being a mum.
We had a slightly rocky start to parenthood. While still in hospital freshly traumatised from a 32 hour labour, we finally drifted off to sleep for the first time in almost three days. Archie was safely tucked up in his little hospital crib beside us, fast asleep, and then suddenly we were awoke to the sound of him coughing, spluttering and choking on his sick. It was terrifying, my little bundle was all tucked up in my tummy less than 24 hours prior to this, I was able to keep him safe from everything and the next thing I knew, a midwife was whisking him away from me to take him to a doctor.
Something they don’t tell you when you give birth is that your baby doesn’t always come out screaming. While it is better if they do because it helps them clear their lungs of mucus, it doesn’t always happen like that. When Archie was put on my chest he wasn’t crying, which led to me obviously thinking the worst. The midwife reassured me and eventually he did a little cry, nothing major, not that screech that you see on the films, which is why he then happened to choke on the mucus that he hadn’t cleared from his lungs. This happened again shortly after Archie was returned to us, and again, he was taken from us.
This was definitely the moment I realised, oh my God, we have full responsibility of an actual human being, a human being who yesterday, we didn’t know, and today, he’s ours. I’ve always been an anxious person, especially when it came to health and whatnot, but nothing and no one could’ve prepared me for the anxiety I feel for Archie. I think this incident just exposed me to that realisation a little earlier than it would’ve had it not happened, but I have to admit, I’m definitely the kind of Mum who watches their baby sleep and checks they’re still breathing too often than I’d like to admit, and I think the hospital incident is partly to blame.
Once we were home, I expected everything to feel more or less normal again, well, as normal as it could be since our whole world had suddenly been flipped upside down. (I say suddenly lightly, of course I had 9 whole months to prepare, but I don’t even think 9 years could have really got me ready to have my own little human that I loved more than I could physically comprehend, a human that needed my absolute 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, undivided attention).
Something I don’t think enough people talk about is how normal and how common the baby blues are. I cried a lot. People did warn me about this, they said I’d cry every day for the first week, so I was prepared for the crying, what I wasn’t prepared for, was how unbelievably overwhelmed I would feel. Looking back, 4 and a half months on, it seems pretty obvious that I’d feel overwhelmed. I’d just gone through a crap labour, I was in a lot of pain with stitches and my iron levels were pretty much none-existent due to a bleed after the birth. In reality, I needed a month in bed to get over the labour, the after pains and the emotional turmoil that you’re left in, but no, that is childbirth, and do you get to rest after childbirth? HA, absolutely bloody not.
I felt anxious, down and upset for no reason, I felt exhausted (oh my god so so so exhausted) but elated and so in love, I pretty much felt every single emotion but to an absolute extreme. I was in a total bubble and genuinely forgot that life outside of my new family existed… which was amazing but equally so so difficult. That first 10 days was just the oddest, most amazing but most overwhelming time of my life, and I wish someone would’ve told me that after day 10 your hormones even out a little and you start to remember who you are and start to feel a little more human again.
(If you happen to be reading this and you’re in the midst of those first couple of weeks and your life is a massive whirlwind of feeding, shushing, and rocking your baby, and you find yourself having a little (or huge) cry in between the visitors coming and going… it gets better, soooooo much better, and I promise very soon you’ll be able to look at your baby without asking yourself how you can possibly survive when you love someone so much that it physically hurts).
Once the first couple of weeks were over and I started to feel myself again I fell in love with being a Mum. It was still hard, in fact, it initially got harder. Archie screamed… a lot. He would scream in pain after every bottle and the screaming would last HOURS. I would cry every time he cried, my boyfriend and I would take turns during the night holding him while he screamed in order for the other to get a few minutes rest and it was harder than I ever knew it could be.
We took him to the doctor who told us it was colic, the dreaded colic. It’ll probably last til he’s 6 months, we were told. No way. I couldn’t believe that my baby, who was clearly in so much pain, would have to suffer for 6 months without any intervention. Thankfully, we sought a second opinion, this time, a paediatric nurse in hospital. We had taken Archie to urgent care after he had been none stop crying for hours on end. The nurse examined him and said she suspected he had an intolerance and prescribed us with Nutramigen, a lactose free milk. Initially, this milk changed not just Archies life, but ours too! We were in love with being parents, but seeing our baby no longer screaming in pain made us enjoy it so much more. However, after a few weeks on Nutramigen, the symptoms came creeping back. Archie was crying after bottles and bringing them straight back up, he came out in a rash whenever he fed and his nappies were awful. Thankfully we seen a great doctor who said that Archie was likely reacting to this milk too and would need a fully cows milk free formula. It’s now been around 14 weeks of being on the new milk and Archie is the happiest, smiliest little thing and we have an appointment with a dietician this month who will be able to advise us on weaning Archie with his allergies!
Since overcoming the battle with the allergies everything has became a lot calmer and we’ve slowly started to find our own little routine that works for us and for Archie. It’s still tiring, to be completely honest, I can’t really remember what it feels like to not be tired anymore, but that’s what coffee is for! Sooooo much coffee!
It still feels surreal that day to day, when my boyfriend works, I have a baby that is depending entirely on me. Archie is a serial cat-napper so it’s pretty none-stop from the minute he wakes to the minute he goes to bed. He has a half an hour nap every two or so hours and I usually tend to spend those half an hour periods tidying up and sterilising… oh how my life has changed! However, I’ve vowed in 2020 to start doing things I enjoy again, even if it does have to come in 30 minute increments, starting with… blogging!
Every day I find myself learning something new and there has been soooo many bumps in the road so far! In early December Archie caught bronchiolitis which resulted in a 5 night hospital stay, 4 of which in intensive care and again this just added to my realisation of how bloody hard it is being a Mum! I recently saw a quote that said being a parent is the equivalent of wearing your heart outside of your body and I feel that so strongly! Sometimes, I can look at Archie and feel so overwhelmed with love for him that it makes me cry and no matter how many people tell me holding him all of the time is making a rod for my back, I will continue to cuddle him at every opportunity I get until he decides that cuddling his Mum all day every day isn’t cool anymore (hopefully never… hahaha).
Despite the number of ups and downs we’ve had, I couldn’t, and still can’t, possibly imagine what I’d be doing with my life had I not had Archie. I can’t believe there was a time that we lived without him, for every hard moment where I have doubts as to whether I can possibly do this, there is a hundred moments where I remember I was made for it. Every time his little fingers curl around mine, or his face nuzzles into the creak of my neck I realise how much better this tiny little human had made my life. He is the smiliest little thing I’ve ever seen and I swear no matter the day I’m having he just has to flash that little dimple at me and I forget what was bothering me in the first place.
Basically, I wanted to write this kind of post because all I see on Instagram are those babies that apparently sleep through the night from being 2 days old, the babies that never cry, the Mums who took to being a Mum from day 1, never have a rough day and just casually breeze through life with their little angel baby by their side. It’s okay to have a bad day, it’s okay to feel like you’re finally in a routine and then suddenly you’ve hit another blip, whether it’s a sleep regression, teething, a baby that refuses to go in the pram (yep, that’s the one we’re only just getting over!), no matter what it is, it passes, and it doesn’t make you a bad Mum no matter how much you might feel like you haven’t got it together. The thing is, what I’ve learnt, is that none of us really have it together, we’re all just winging it day by day hoping that the lil humans we created grow up and think we did a good job.
Thanks for reading,
Love, Beth xxx