I’m currently sitting on my couch, drinking tea and typing on my trusty old laptop…alone. Completely alone. I can’t remember the last time I was alone; these moments, once plentiful and taken for granted, are now few and far between and fiercely valued. You see, in early April this year, my world turned upside down, and concepts like ‘alone time’ all but disappeared, replaced instead with constant snuggles, feeding, diaper changes, and too many kisses to count. Our baby boy, Zachary John, has arrived and yes, life is forever changed.
My days are so different to before. Instead of rushing to meet deadlines, planning social media campaigns, working on articles, and penning marketing plans, I now spend my time wiping a tiny bottom, washing too many bottles to count, assembling cloth nappies, and going on walks with a baby wrapped up on my chest. I kiss chubby cheeks and a soft tummy. I make up silly songs and use outrageous voices as I narrate my day, eating whatever is is the fridge from last night’s dinner, scarfing mouthfuls with one hand while waving a rattle with the other. I feel constantly busy but don’t have much of an answer to the question, ‘So what did you do today?’. I do a lot, but it’s a lot of the same few things, and these things don’t lend themselves to being described day after day when Max gets home from work.
I hope this doesn’t sound like a complaint. It’s not. I am just constantly amazed at this: I have born a new life, a small human being who depends on me for everything, and has in turn given me a completely new life, too. Things are different now and I don’t regret it one bit, but it does take some getting used to.
Until my last day at work before my maternity leave started, I didn’t realise how much my sense of self was tied up in my job. When you spend eight hours a day in one place, working on things that matter to you and challenge your mind, it becomes a part of who you are and shapes your character. It did for me, at least, and that last day in the office was a bit of a wake up call for me. Suddenly, I was walking away from a job that I am good at, where I know what I’m doing and my hard work pays off, and heading into the unknown.
The unknown realm of parenting, that is. I don’t think anyone knows if they will be happy as a mother, if they can love their new life, until they are thrust into the middle of it all and learning as they go. Being a parent is hard. When I was pregnant, I was mostly concerned with labour and delivery: could I do it? Would I survive? Would I poop in front of the midwife? (Spoiler: I could, I did, and I didn’t, thank goodness.) But the real work of motherhood begins after that little babe is placed on your chest, small and wet and helpless, and suddenly things are different and the only thing that matters is him. Zach takes up my thoughts at nearly all times; I find it nearly impossible to think about anything else but him at any given moment.
There are so many things I’m unsure about: is he sleeping enough? Eating enough? Is mixed feeding ok? Why won’t he nap longer? Am I giving him enough stimulation to help his brain develop? When will I stop feeling exhausted all the time? There are books and online articles and Child and Family Health Service nurses that all have answers, and most of them are different. I’m learning slowly to trust my instincts as a mama and just accept that sometimes, my best is all I can give and will have to do in this moment.
I have so much to write about but I’ll stop this post here for today. After all, I’m cherishing this moment as Max puts his baby to bed and I sit in a quiet lounge room all alone, but just a thought away from my son.
Newborn photos by Vikki Kourbelis Photography.