Diary Entries from Early Motherhood
I’m still working on a proper blog post, so in the meantime here are some more diary entries from earlier this year…
19th May (5 weeks, 5 days)
Today a visit from another dear friend: C drove all the way from Oxfordshire to see us. He had to be somewhere else though, so could only stay for an hour or so. It’s strange to see people I’ve not seen for such a long time, and jarring to think of who I was the last time I saw them. It seems incongruous to now sit before them with a sleeping baby in a bouncy chair at my feet, my only topics of conversation how she is sleeping or what is going on with her father.
My mother came round in the afternoon; I find her being in the flat at all very irritating. I always feel that she is judging me, comparing my efforts with the way she successfully dragged 6 of us through childhood with no major injuries. I wait for her to tell me I’ve done something wrong but she doesn’t; instead she makes snide remarks about how rarely she is allowed to hold her granddaughter. Since my brother is not speaking to her, my mother tries to have S play the part of the two grandchildren she doesn’t see, as well as herself. S is too small for this responsibility. I don’t have the energy for an argument over it though, so I just pretend not to hear the comments and accept the gifts graciously. I feel ungrateful because the new baby clothes do not make me happy and I am too tired to smile; I just want her to leave so that I can share S’s next nap with her, before it is too late for a nap and I have to begin the bedtime routine.
I have made black and white patterns on old postcards and stuck them on the wall next to the table where I change S’s nappy. Apparently babies like to look at simple patterns and pictures of faces. I thought it was just one of those stupid things you read that turn out to be complete crap, but when I put her down for a nappy change today, she was completely mesmerised by my crappy drawings. I feel like I’ve finally done something right; perhaps I’m not such a rubbish parent after all.
20th May (5 weeks, 6 days)
I have started going for long walks with the pushchair in the mornings. I don’t often use the pushchair, preferring to have S in the sling close to me, but now I take her for long walks and she has a nap. It kills time when we have gotten up early in the morning and the day is stretching out before me like some endless sentence of boredom and nappy changing. Today we walked a couple of miles, and then came back into town and I bought a cloth book for S. I’m hoping my recent success with the monochrome drawings will translate to a book with crinkly pages and pictures of faces.
Today S is wearing a baby-gro her father bought for her the day after she was born. She has only just grown into it. I love it, despite its reminding me of the life I thought I would be leading now, and the massive difference between that and what I actually do with my days. It was my sister’s birthday so we all went to Harvester for a meal. S slept through most of it, which was lucky as I am not so keen on breastfeeding in public places.
21st May (6 weeks)
Today I did not leave the house at all. I know this was a bad move, because even before I had a baby I needed to leave the house at least once a day in order to feel normal. I feel lazy. My daughter has had no fresh air all day, that can’t be a good thing for her. I was just so tired though, and there was nothing I needed to do in town, no money to go frivolously shopping for baby clothes, and most of the stuff in the shops doesn’t fit her any way. She’s still wearing clothes for a newborn. Does 6 weeks still count as newborn? It feels like she’s been here forever now, no longer new but just as precious and breakable.
Although we spent so many hours in the flat, I cannot say what we actually did. We played with the rattles my mother bought for S, but she is a bit too young to even notice they are there. We played with the book, but that appears to be the same situation.
A lady from the childrens centre came round, I think the health visitor sent her. She had that sort of look a lot of people seem to have with me lately, the “oh poor you, you’re a new mum and there’s nobody to make you a cup of tea…” sort of expression. She gave me some leaflets and we signed up to do a baby massage class. I don’t think I even offered her a drink while she was here, what a terrible hostess. I should make an effort to go down to the centre though, I know it would be Good For Me to meet other mums; it’s just depressing because other mums invariably have a husband to share things with, and they invariably have that “oh-you’re-so-brave-you-poor-thing-I-could-never-do-this-alone-and-wow-she-was-early-too-however-are-you-managing” look once they know about me. I try to like other mums and to get on with them, but I tend to just feel jealous of them, which is never an endearing quality.
22nd May (6 weeks, 1 day)
A friend came to visit today. She does not live locally so I’d not seen her since S was born. She had a baby a few months ago herself, and seems to have had a pretty rough time of it, though she doesn’t really mention it in much detail. She brought presents for the baby – clothes and such – but also some home cooked pasta for me, and some brownies. The perfect gift; I wish my family would take note of this. We sat and chatted for a long while, and she made me feel better about things. When she left she gave me a massive hug and told me I’m doing really well. I feel like I should be doing better though. Poor S only has me to rely on, I need to be two parents to her. When other babies are crying and their mothers are tired, their fathers take over the cooing and rocking. I don’t have that luxury; I cannot get tired. I am so lucky S does not cry very much, and seems to be a fairly chilled baby. When she does cry though, or when it takes her a long time to settle to sleep at night, I feel bad for her that she doesn’t have a second parent to come in and be all fresh about trying to get her to sleep. She just has me, begging her to please go to sleep. I’m sure other mothers don’t resort to leaving the hairdryer switched on in the bedroom for hours at a time each evening. I’m sure other mothers have more patience than me and for that I feel endlessly guilty.