Alice is developing at a rate of knots. I can't believe that she's 10 months old tomorrow. She's found her forward gear and is now crawling. She's starting to pull herself up to stand so her cot has now been lowered. She now naps in the cot during the day which is frankly a revelation - you can do so much in an hour! She slept on her front for the first time today. She's developed a love of grated Gruyere cheese and follows The Gruffalo's Child with her finger. Her little personality is starting to come through - cheeky, wilful and loving. She does the most adorable cuddle. She's now on two bottles of formula a day in preparation for nursery. She chatters away to the kitchen flowers (subscription flowers are honestly one of the greatest gifts to receive) and the plants outside, and shrieks in delight at Pickle. My heart swells to the point that it feels like it will burst, and yet it swells more.
As for me, I'm trying to enjoy every minute because it won't be long before I'm back at work with someone else earning her precious smiles and cheeky glances and dirty giggles. I'm not going to lie - it's been hard - some days are brilliant and other days are seriously tough. There are days with tears. There are those where I have to dig deep and patience is lacking. I can't/shouldn't/mustn't complain because she sleeps through the night and is a delight by day. I blame my hormones, frankly - they still haven't quite settled back down to 2015 levels. And perhaps a large dose of unpreparedness. I'd spent such a long time wanting/hoping/trying to have a baby that the focus was only ever to get pregnant/stay pregnant rather than the 'ta-da you're a mother' bit. Perhaps deep down I thought that the sheer amount of wanting Alice would automatically make me brilliant at mothering. Ha! I had no idea that it was such a bloody tough gig. Hats off to my friends who always appeared to be acing it in the early years. With all that said, I love where we're at right now and I go to bed each night knowing just how fortunate we are.
What motherhood has taught me so far:
- It is not guaranteed (and there's a no returns policy).
- I am only human.
- Tears are fine - even over the smallest of things.
- Speak out when things are hard because it gets lonely - turns out my NCT group were going through/had gone through many of the things I was, but silently. I'm usually the world's greatest bottle-upperer, but tired-based delirium led me to over sharing on WhatsApp and others saying thanks. Sanity restored with the 'me too' messages as they came through. If you don't have an NCT group, it's likely that there are local new mother groups. Sure Start Children's Centres are a great place to start - you can find your local one here.
- Put that idea of wanting to email/ring/blog to the back of your mind. If you don't do it immediately it won't happen. That also applies to texts/WhatsApp and replacing toilet rolls. I honestly don't know how @modelrecommends does it - she is a legend.
- You will silently weep when someone brings you a cup of tea, the biscuit tin and remote control and puts them just out of arms reach when you're breastfeeding/have baby asleep on you.
- 'They' say that the first 6 weeks are the hardest. It really depends on the baby. Alice had silent reflux for the first 4 months - so for us it was the first 16 weeks. The most important thing to remember is that it does get better. You just have no idea when.
- It pushes relationships to the brink - Mr M and I have never argued so much. In part because I'm rubbish at communicating.
- Get someone else to write the thank you notes.
- A glass of red wine post baby bedtime makes everything better, two and half glasses makes the room spin.
- Try not to compare yourself or your baby to others. Everyone develops at different rates. Ignore those around you who compare you or your baby to others, including those who weren't involved in 'the process' and then chide you for being overly sensitive.
- All advice is well-meaning but guess what, you don't have to listen to it. You do however have to perfect your fake smile and 'thank you, I'll take that onboard' line, albeit through gritted teeth, because people get so easily offended if you snap. They seem to forget that you've just had a baby, your stitches/boobs are screaming in pain, you've had 4 hours sleep, your ears are ringing and really the only line you want to hear is "here, let me take her" and not "is she hungry?"
- The line that will turn the most heads when pushing an apoplectic howling 5 week old around a supermarket is "And this Alice, is why you will always be an only child".
- You will want to hug the stranger that calls across the car park that "You're doing a f-king great job being out and about, well done".