As I sat down this morning with Phoenix, surrounded by toys, both still in our pj's at 10am, feeling like I had known him forever. It suddenly struck me how quickly time has gone by since he was born, 9 months ago and how much has changed. Of course 9 months of pregnancy didn't fly by quite so quickly but no pregnant women ever said, "Wow that pregnancy went fast".
Life with Phoenix has changed almost on a daily basis since those first few months. I as I sat there with him, I was transported back to when he first came home and how I felt like everything was in slow motion that day. My friend Kirsty had told me I'd feel like this, but it was only when I got home that I realised exactly what she had been describing to me. Everyone seemed to be rushing around me as I held my baby in my arms. Our world seemed to be spinning on a different axis to every one else's. As his dad and my mum frantically got everything ready for this brand new life. I held him in my arms as we both just took it all in. Like Alice In Wonderland, with madness going on all around us, we watched in a dream like state. The world seemed like a stranger to me, as it must have done to Phoenix. I think I've been in a magical Wonderland ever since.
I think at first, babies routines seem to change daily. You think you've got it under control and then they change all over again. I remember his dad Ayden laughing at me when Phoenix was 4 days old. The first 2 nights he had slept like a dream, only waking every 4 hours for food. However, on the first night he came home, he barely slept at all. Ayden found me hilarious because I said, "Let's try him in his 'next to me' crib tomorrow night (the first night he'd been in his Moses basket) and then he might go back to how he used to be." HE USED TO BE? He was 4 days old! Maybe the gas and air that made me so mental during the birth hadn't worn off yet when I said that or maybe I had really entered another realm, where time was going slower for me and I still hadn't got back to Earth yet. It certainly made his dad laugh a lot, that I would refer to our 4 day old baby, as going back to, "how he used to be". I blame the hormones and my milk trying to come in!
Every day in those first 4 months, I really felt like I was spinning plates. I was thrilled with myself because I could get up and dressed, on my own with him, pretty much from the start. I could get out of the house. I could even get out of the house on time, if we had to go somewhere. I didn't even freak out too much about being out and about with him alone. Which let's face it, is a fucking big deal, when you have your first baby. You feel completely vulnerable, judged and just a big sweaty hormonal mess. On the whole, I think I did OK and I'm no domestic goddess or natural earth mother and some days I can barely look after myself, so I think I can be pleased with my effort. I even managed to go to London on my own, on the train, when he was just 7 weeks old (this is a blog yet to come).
I must confess though, in spite of, kind of coping on a 'get out and do' level, I was in fact petrified of my little baby boy, in a good way, but still the power he had over me was intense.
Let me explain. This fear came from making him cry. I realised early on, that my life centred around making sure I pre-empted his hunger, nappies and sleeps, so he wouldn't have to cry to let me know he needed any of these things doing. If I could prevent him having a big melt down, everything would work so much better. I could get house work done, he would be generally peaceful and he would sleep at night so much better. As long as I could predict he was hungry or that he needed sleep before he cried for them, then he would be a happy baby. If I missed these signs though, he no longer trusted me and his screams and tears would take over our day.
The times, I ploughed through people with his pram or pushchair because he might have woken up and screamed if I had to stop walking. I've found myself wanting to drive through red lights just because he cried every time I stopped the car and I knew he must go to sleep or there'd be hell to pay. Before I had a child, I used to curse mums for not stopping their prams and pushchairs on pavements to let others pass by. Now I know, it's the fear of our babies crying that makes us break a strangers legs before we will stop to let them go by, quite frankly, mums do not give a fuck who's shins we knock out of the way or who's toes we crumple. The baby must not cry! You don't even care that you may get pulled over for running a red light and you would happily make the police car chase you all the way home if it was the only way to keep your baby asleep. As long as your baby doesn't wake up and is happy, then you will do whatever you have to. The only manners you know when you are first a mum, is towards your beautiful baby and other mums, suddenly you don't care very much about the rest of the world. I'm better now but certainly in that first 6 months I really did not give a shit. As long as my baby was happy, the rest of the world could do one. Awful I know, but so true.
Now, I'm clearly no parenting expert. I'm writing a blog but I'm doing that to make all parents out there, feel sane, smug and better about your skills. Skills which I do not naturally have. I admitted this to myself straight away when I had Phoenix. I told myself, I am not an earth mother, so therefore I must look to the skills that I do have.... I am brilliant with animals, I'm bendy and I can be funny and that's about it.
I mainly know about cats and dogs and how to treat them, so I applied this to my parenting. Crazy I know, but it's all I have... and so far it's worked OK.
If you have an air of being in control and confidence with animals, then they will feel secure and they are much calmer. So, I figured I would give this a try with Phoenix. Even if inside I think, "Well I don't know what the bloody hell to do here", I try and breeze through it so he doesn't notice his mum is having a nervous breakdown. I am his pack leader and he needs to know he can depend on me. He definitely does trust me, so that's one tick for me at least, on the parenting score board.
I haven't got the cooking down yet but Liverpool is a great City for cafes and restaurants, so not only does he eat but he is also an absolute professional at eating out! Bonus!
I was also determined I would not be a flappy mum and that I must be chilled, whether I felt it or not.
Amazingly, in this instance I seemed to have pulled this off too. Even my dad told my mum that he was impressed with how chilled I am and that he thought I was the most natural mums he has seen. That is indeed a compliment from my dad, whom I often drive to despair. Haha - what a good actress I must be.
I'm pleased to say that Phoenix is pretty chilled and from just 9 weeks old he has slept from 11pm through til 10am. In fact he's like a teenage baby. Could that be another tick for me or is he just genetically lazy like his mum?
As I sat there this morning, surrounded by toys musing about how much easier it is now he's bigger. I'm not afraid of him crying any more and he seems to really like me. I realised that I was doing OK as a mum. I may not be the most conventional when it comes to my methods (I rely on his brilliant dad for that) but everything I do, I do because I love him and I want him to feel safe, secure, worry free and loved, so he can get on with finding out about this wonderful life he has and who he is.
I still go to sleep at night excited to wake up in the morning to see his cute little face and I know that will never change. I love the fact that when he sees me, he smiles as if to say, "Oh yay, what naughtiness and comedy is she going to bestow upon me now." I go to bed at night absolutely knackered from chasing him around crawling and trying to pull himself up on every sharp corner in the house he can find, but what a wonderland he has brought to us. Every day with new twists and turns, every day a little madder just as all the best things are.
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