When people encouraged me to enjoy the first few weeks of Hector’s life I must have looked at them blankly. This wasn’t about personal enjoyment. As far as I could see, motherhood was a job of utmost importance and responsibility: I had to do everything I could to make sure he met the milestones listed in the NHS red book (the health visitor has specifically showed me the relevant pages on her first visit). I needed him to get bigger, roll over, sit up, talk. If he missed his targets, I’d failed as a mother.
Second time round (Alfred is six weeks), these early days are rushing by far, far too quickly. Sod the red book. I keep reminding myself to cherish his tiny wrinkled feet and baffled frown, those tightly clenched fists and little bleating cries (not always the easiest, I admit).
I want to remember him like this, in all his newness.
Cradling him in my arms, I stare down at his balding head – disaster, he’s losing the fluffy jet black hair he was born with – and wish he wouldn’t grow out of this tiny baby phase so soon. These early days are so precious. Yes, it will be nice when (and if) breastfeeding starts working properly and he sleeps through the night but I want to remember him like this, in all his newness.
On doctor’s orders I check my c-section scar each morning (still swollen and sore) but I’ve banned myself from looking in the mirror. If I don’t see my face I don’t feel so tired (it really works – try it!).
It’s not just your body that changes irreversibly when you have a child, though. It’s your whole being. Since Hector was born I’ve become an emotional wreck, blubbing my way through baby-related plots on Home & Away (I know, it’s just on at such a perfect time) and any advert that involves a child.
Since Alfred I’ve become sentimental as well as emotional (oh God). With hindsight comes the knowledge that it’s all so fleeting, that it’s all over so fast.
I used to joke/ cringe about my new status as a Wheels on the Bus singing, Peppa Pig watching, Boots Baby Club member who NEVER gets to lie in. Now, even when I’ve had virtually no sleep at all, I remind myself (through gritted teeth) that when Hector and Alfred are grown up, I’ll miss these days so much.