28 January 2009

Getting to grips

You know how sometimes you go to a fair and see a ride and think to yourself, Hey, that doesn’t look so bad – in fact, it looks pretty tame and you get on and the ride starts up and it’s everything you thought it would be; that is until it suddenly shoots about a hundred feet into the air and tilts at a crazy angle that makes you feel as though the worn out old seatbelt could at any moment tear away from your hips and you’ll go spiralling over the heads of those poor sods queuing up for that other ride about twenty kilometers yonder and just then it starts to undulate in such a way that your stomach isn’t sure if it wants to explode or implode or maybe jump ship out your ass and you’re like, Actually, MOTHEROFCHRISTGETMEOFFATHISFUCKINGTHING! except that you should have thought of that earlier, because now it’s much too late and you know you’re going to have to suffer this horror for at least another five minutes?

Except that parenthood lasts a wee bit longer than five minutes, and involves something very small and vulnerable that you can’t help but love with your whole entire being, and he’s on the ride too except fortunately for him he hasn’t the wherewithal to retain bad memories and will root around on your chin, the edge of a cushion, a duvet cover or whatever because he hasn’t figured out yet that only mummies and not faces or inanimate objects have nipples, and for this reason you need to make sure that you stay firmly in the seated position because otherwise neither of you will make it through this thing alive.

Bruce and my dad have nipped out to Mothercare for a few essentials, and both our mothers are out there in the other room with our sleeping infant, who seems to have become more unsettled by this whole Being Alive in the World condition than he was last week. He refuses to nap until you feed him and then joggle him around a bit and then feed him again and then change him and then give him some gripe water and then joggle him around some more and then sacrifice a chicken when the moon is in the seventh house and then feed him – every two to three hours. But then he sleeps like an angel.

This mixture of love and concern, joy and sinking despair can be very overwhelming when you’re onto a third day where none of you have slept and you find yourself sniping at the very people who are there to help take him off your hands and your husband is stumbling around like the living dead and trying to get you to have a nap instead of chewing your fingers into little stubs or possibly saying something that will forever fracture the delicate relationship you’ve managed to foster with your parents who, might you add, have not yet clarified whether they’ll definitely help finance a whole year of maternity leave or whether that was just something they said and maybe even meant but only in the moment. Not quite yet.

Then this tiny mite starts to cry and I feel my stomach sink a little bit but I’m up like a hero and taking him into my arms and he roots around on my cheek and my chin and my nose for a nipple, stabbing his little face at me like a tiny anaconda and going Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah until I have him lying on his side in bed next to me, my boob out and in his face, and he tenses up and makes two fists which he pulls back like an angry little man winding up as if to say Why, I oughta . . . except that instead he stabs around at my breast with his whole face until his mouth finds a good latch and he gives an almighty suck that makes both of us go quiet.

And then there’s no denying that it’s all worth it somehow. I’m not sure why, but that’s the honest truth. Motherhood is so much harder than I thought it would be, and so much better too.


Anonymous said...

I could cry reading this. I know, I know, I know, and you're right about everything.

Try to enjoy it as best you can on zero sleep because it's true what they say: it goes FAR too quickly.

Please believe me when things are at their worst that around 3-4 months life starts to get a whole lot less difficult and a whole lot more amazing. The first three months go so fast while they pass so slowly, if you know what I mean.

We're in the midst of our first puke-fest over here, and we haven't slept much either. We're hoping it passes quickly.

Hang in there. I'm glad you have help.

Anonymous said...

It sounds exhausting and exhilarating...as Robin said, babies do tend to settle into a routine by the 3rd month or so...though that may sound like years away to you at this point! Glad you have extra sets of hands close by.