After my first baby was born I did not react well and there are some things I wish I could tell my new mum self.
About two weeks in – when I had banked cumulatively about 13 hours of sleep total in that entire time – I wrote myself a hysterical letter warning my future self to never get pregnant again, such was my terror of ever finding myself with a newborn again. I sealed it in an envelope and wrote across the front: To Be Opened In The Event Of Wanting Another Baby. I stashed it in a drawer and resumed the frantic one-woman show I was engaged in that I now call the I’m Fine Absolutely NOTHING Is Wrong Whatsoever (Just Don’t Hug Me Or I Will Cry And May Never Stop) Show. Suffice it to say, I was not handling the transition well.
I now look back on my new mother self and wish I could reassure her of a few things (and gently suggest that she relax and stop Googling “what age sleep through the night?”). So here’re the things I wish I could tell that wild-eyed, crazy, weepy person.
Stop doing stuff – seriously just stop. Don’t put that wash on. Don’t start doing the dishes. Don’t do anything beyond eating biscuits. Eating biscuits is the only output of energy that is allowed until the baby is at least 12 weeks old at which time you may consider getting dressed. Maybe.
Eat as much as you can as often as you can – believe me, I am not a person who needs to be reminded to eat but in the hazy, crazy, mixed-up, tired, terror-fog of newbornhood day becomes night and night becomes day and even I would forget to eat. I’d be about to dissolve into hopeless tears over something fairly minor when The Man would gently query whether it was really that big a deal that the couple on Room To Improve had vetoed Diarmuid’s suggested interior courtyard? Perhaps, he’d tentatively venture, my disproportionately emotional response was more due to the fact that I had only eaten biscuits that day.
Feel perfectly free to ATTACK the next person who asks you if the infant is a “good baby”. This question is bullsh*t and needs to be eradicated from the language. The next person who asks the “good baby” question can expect a verbal b*ll*cking along the lines of “no he’s not a good baby, it’s an EVIL baby – I bred him to avenge my enemies and I will set him on you next”.
Forget sleep when the baby sleeps – like what are you going to do? Sleep in 18 months time? Because that is pretty much when that baby is going to sleep. Unless you have gotten extremely lucky and birthed one of those fabled ‘sleeping babies’. In which case, go you but be cool and don’t go broadcasting it because believe me the second, the very INSTANT that you tell someone that you have a “good sleeper” the baby Gods will hear you and they will punish you for your hubris.
Don’t pretend you’re fine if you’re not. Really, don’t. I pretended I was fine for nearly a year and it was exhausting, not to mention unnecessary. Tell someone, tell someone, tell someone. They won’t confiscate your baby, they will help you.
This article was originally published in July 2021.