We’ve enjoyed 12 delicious weeks of life with our newborn baby Miles and what an emotional rollercoaster they’ve been.
Life with a newborn has been harder in ways I didn’t imagine (what, you’re hungry again?!) and yet easier than what I was led to believe during my pregnancy.
(If I had a £1 for every time I was told to sleep/go out/wash my hair etc now while I still can…)
So, while I have a few minutes to myself as the baby snores next to me, I thought I’d share some of my observations about life with a newborn that I didn’t necessarily think I’d be saying.
Parenting a newborn
Let’s start with those newborn noises shall we. My understanding was that babies generally just cried or cooed at this stage, and that’s mostly what ours does by day. Yet at night, it’s like there’s some otherworldly creature in the bedside crib.
Miles snorts, grunts, sighs, snores and snuffles his way through the night like some kind of piglet. Although he’s very kindly ‘slept through the night’ from about 6 weeks, Justin and I are often disturbed by his nocturnal habits of dropping the dummy or doing explosive farts or burps that boom like thunder.
But if he’s not waking us up with his noises, he’s panicking us for going silent. Basically, the only one sleeping through the night around here is the baby.
Who knew we’d become so obsessed with the babies wet or dirty nappies. Turns out the early weeks of child-rearing involves a lot of studying of and discussion around shit. Even the way they do it – an unexpected shart sending warmth along your arm – warrants conversation. (In my book anyway!)
Changing nappies is an artform you need to master – dodging errant wees and keeping feet out of korma-coloured piles – and in the meantime proving that all those excess vests you were given were definitely needed.
Early feeding cues? Purrlease. I remember studiously looking at pictures of the signs babies will display when they begin to feel hungry at our NCT class. Miles has no time for hints though, if he’s awake he’s hungry and the whole street knows about it. He also has a sixth sense for whenever I’ve made a fresh cup of tea. Turns out that’s his cue to feed apparently.
Baby grooming – now there’s a fun challenge. Filing tiny nails on wriggling fingers and toes is something I lack the patience for and yet resorting to baby clippers was a big disaster I’m not keen to repeat either.
I’ve learned to pay attention to creases – seeking out poo that hides under balls and puke stuck in neck folds – and feel like there are only a few weeks left where Miles won’t mind me dressing him like a doll every morning.
I could legitimately eat my child though. The way he smells is so delicious and apparently this desire is a normal scientific thing. (I just googled ‘I want to eat my baby’ to check that haha.)
The combination of giving birth and caring for a baby has left me feeling a little bit broken – everywhere. Different parts of my body take turns to ache; my neck and shoulders sore from feeding, my core cramping when I pick up the baby and as for my bladder, controlling it is an ongoing effort.
I’m also sweatier now. It’s weird. I’ve spent most of my life complaining of the cold and now I can’t handle being under the duvet.
Baby brain is real too. Every paragraph of this article had a x in it during the draft stage as I’d forgotten the word I wanted.
New Mum life
Life with a newborn involves a surprising number of appointments; I’m well acquainted with local doctors, nurses, midwives and health visitors, intimately.
If you’d told pre-baby me I’d need to show stitches in my bits to midwives in my bedroom or have women studying the way I put my child on my tit I would have said no thanks. But when it came to doing exactly these things, I was too tired to care in the moment.
And how tired I was in the first couple of weeks, but it’s funny how you somehow adjust to sleeping in bits. I’m now so well versed at nodding back off after settling the baby that I have to remind myself to remove my hand from the crib before doing so.
I think that one of the biggest misperceptions I had about the early days with the baby is that the adult fun (you know nights out, reading a book, having spa treatments.. ) stops but in our case I’ve found it’s still possible, just a lot less spontaneous.
(Speaking from the privileged position of being someone with just one kid that likes to sleep and has a hands-on husband who shares a lot of the childcare with me.)
It does make me laugh to look back on the first time we tried to leave the house with the baby though. It involved 2 poos, 1 puke, 3 outfit changes, a disastrous attempt to get Miles in the baby carrier and a hunt around the house for the pram’s rain covers. By the time we opened the front door we realised we had 10 minutes until the next feed. So closed it over and sat back down again :0
People love to buy gifts for the baby, don’t they? It’s so sweet the way everyone comes around with some sort of cute little package, most of which have made me realise how terrible I was at buying baby gifts before having one myself. (If in doubt go with vests, sleepsuits and muslins!)
I’ve been blown away by how supportive, women in particular, are to new mums. Kind words from strangers – you’re doing great, you look well, you’ve got this – and advice from mums near and far is everything. Social media has been a great support during the last few months, especially during night feeds, as have the network of mums I met through NCT and baby massage classes.
I’ve eaten a lifetime’s worth of cake and biscuits but those cups of tea while someone else holds the baby are so good for the soul. (And previously mentioned aching shoulders.)
This is going to sound trite but it’s true. I could never imagine my life with a baby in it and yet Miles arrived and somehow he just fits.
He also fits really well in the crook of my neck at the moment so excuse me as I soak up those snuggles while he’s still little enough for them.
Family portraits were shot by Rachel Lou from Authentic Baby Photography