New firsts

Suddenly it was snatched away. Our moments of peace and calm. Our closest time, our precious bond. Me irreplaceable to you. Giving you something no one else could. You joined to me once more. Our bodies one again. Your safe and happy place. My chance to hold you close after watching you venture further each day.

But suddenly breastfeeding you wasn’t safe. It could do you harm. Once the best possible gift I could give, was now a risk to you. My heart felt ripped apart, to know this bond must break. That somehow now putting you first meant stopping what was once the most valuable act. To know what we worked so hard for was no longer worth a thing. The thought of hurting you, hurting me like nothing else.

Days of wrestling advice in my head, my instincts stronger than my sense. Fighting what was happening, desperate to delay. I needed my time to accept it was over, and to realise you needed me well more than you needed my milk. That taking medication was for you as much as me.

The pain felt so physical. Like you being ripped from my arms. The urges so strong to pull you back again. The howling tears consuming me. That cry from the depths of your gut. The sadness like a cloud. I felt so far away.

But you were just so peaceful. So trusting and so brave. You held me close and snuggled in. You just got on and never begged for more. You showed me you were ready and it didn’t change a thing. You loved me like you always had and this was just the time. How could you be so small, yet stronger than me? You helped the shadow lift and slowly we’d pull through. Soon you’d find your walking feet, and I’d see your love even more, as you run into my arms and sparkle with joy at my touch. You’d patter round behind me, still my little cub.

I couldn’t bear a last, I just had to catch myself by surprise. Do it without warning, not make a final time.

And now I see these new firsts. Like as you cuddle in, drinking on my lap, your head within my reach, your body against my heart. I can cast my lips over you, feeling your soft whispy hair. I can kiss your face and whisper magic in your ear. I can wrap my body around yours as we lie together now, legs to neck fit just right, you my baby spoon. Still two pieces of a puzzle attached forever more. Because even as life changes, and you grow, you’ll show me these all these new firsts, up but never away.

Out of office

There is nothing like that moment you turn on those triple Os. Out. Of. Office.

20 days annual leave a year and little feels more precious when you’re in the hamster wheel of work. For that sweet day, week, fortnight ahead, with one click the daily grind is waved goodbye. “I’m out of the office and really don’t give a &#@% until I return.”

I’ve pondered greatly on the topic of motherhood as work as I enter the second half of maternity leave. As the ‘of course you’re off work’ bubble begins to burst and the ifs, buts and whens of returning to office life set in.

Without doubt, for now, motherhood is my occupation. My daughter is my best work and most stretching role. She’s my biggest achievement and greatest challenge. Nothing has been more rewarding and nothing has called on me to give more.

There are no days off, no sick days, no public holidays. No new offices or different teams. Few promotions and a different kind of pay. No out of office.

Last week my inbox filled with messages from Mummy friends “needing a day off Mummying” or “contemplating a Mummy strike” as nights of lost sleep clocked up and minutes of cranky babies merged into hours.

Each comment followed with a large helping of guilt, regret and the realisation that tomorrow they’d wish they’d never uttered the words.

But as mums it’s ok to feel like you can’t for that moment, hour, day or even week. It’s when we as a community of mothers must pull together more and our partners must lean in. It’s when we must push aside the feelings of FOMO and accept any help available. When time for us, as individuals, not mothers, becomes essential because everyone needs a day off sometimes.

 

 

 

Crazy little thing called love

Nothing will ever compare to the first time you hold her. Strength, love, shock, focus. You thought you knew her in your tummy but suddenly she’s a tiny stranger and your soulmate all in one perfectly pure package.

Nothing can prepare you for the first time she gets sick. Yet somehow you’ll be braver and stronger than you ever thought possible.

You’d do anything to take her pain away, truly wishing you could feel it yourself instead.

But you’ll care more about your own health more than ever before because she needs you well. You’ll eat meat for the first time in 20 years because someone tells you it’ll help nourish her. You’ll praise your body for the miracle it created & now sustains far more than you’ll notice its flaws.

You’ll find you really don’t need sleep (or caffeine or wine or even to wee quite as often as you thought). And even when you do sleep you’ll hear her every breath. You’ll sleep through alarms but never through her calls. You’ll be so tired you can’t see straight, hold a conversation or remember the slightest thing, until she needs you and you’re suddenly bouncing from the walls. When you think you can’t, you can and you will, over and over again.

Every moment she breathes your heart keeps beating, every time she smiles it skips a beat.

You won’t have all the answers, you’ll be lucky if you have some of them. But you’ll know her and your body better than anyone else. Your instincts will be right.

You’ll learn more in minutes than you had in years. She might look like she knows nothing but she’ll teach you everything.

You’ll analyse everything she does and always wonder what you did right and wrong. You’ll feel so much guilt when you’ve never been more innocent, more committed, more determined.

You’ll suddenly be able to do everything one handed and what was the longest task will take half the time. A shower will feel like a spa break.

You’ll never have less control. But every time you feel frustration you’ll feel twice the patience.

Nothing she does will disgust or annoy you. You’ll find yourself peering into nappies and wiping sick from your sore breast without even noticing.

You’ll want her to put on weight more than you’ve ever wanted to lose it.

You’ll look back on the life you had before and realise it was empty compared to this. Things that mattered then don’t even feature now.

You’ll laugh at the ideas and knowledge you had before. You thought you had it all figured out. You knew nothing. You’ll do the things you said you never would. You’ll do things you didn’t even know were things.

You’ll understand parents in a way you never could before. Everything they did and you wondered why, you’ll do twice as much. Your parents suddenly make so much sense to you. Everything they said and you rolled your eyes, you’ll think everyday.

The world will keep on turning outside your door without you even looking out, yet you’ll long for it to be a safer place just for her. You’ll need to protect her from every possible evil, you’ll see danger you never even sensed before.

Minutes will turn into hours. Hours into days. Days into weeks. Even the hardest moments will go too fast.

When you thought you couldn’t love your partner anymore, you’ll fall in love all over again. You’ll become the strongest team you could ever imagine.

You’ll recall how you said she wouldn’t take over every conversation but you’ll have nothing else you both want to talk about.

You’ll think you knew the meaning of hard work but you hadn’t even come close. You’ll think you could never run a marathon but you’ll race one every day.

You’ll never feel joy, passion and purpose quite like it.

Your life will only truly begin when hers does.

You’ll love like you never knew was possible.