On our bub’s 15 month birthday, I have been pausing to reflect on just how far we have come. My partner, Jamie and I have been trying to situate ourselves into our role as parents — we have figured out that the ‘norm’ is not for us!
During those first few weeks after the birth, both of us were generally okay. Yes, we were sleep deprived, but bub did three things amazingly well: sleep, eat, and poo. I even said one night as we sat down to a hot dinner at the table while bub snoozed in the corner that ‘if this was how it was going to be, I could certainly live with it!’ Why did I tempt Fate?
I mentioned to one of the nurses that he had slept for just over 3 hours one evening. She replied that he was too little to go more than 3 hours without a feed and that I needed to wake bub every 3 hours to breastfeed, even though I was demand feeding (read: constantly!) him.
It would be months before I slept for 3 hours straight. Because we woke him and he never slept for more than 3 hours at a go, as he got older and “should” have been able to sleep for longer than 20-30 minutes, or an hour, or whatever our time was at whatever age he was, he stopped sleeping for long periods. He was only sleeping at 2 hour stretches maximum anyway, but as the months progressed, he would wake on average 16-18 times a night. It was through sheer force of will that we all somehow managed (barely!) to survive and take care of daily business. Thankfully we lived in Australia and not our home country of the USA because I have several months, paid, off of work. I could not have worked if I wanted to. I could barely function on the most rudimentary of levels and I did not allow myself to drive most days.
I believe that our finding our roles as parents was accelerated by the fact that we had chosen to expand our family whilst living temporarily in Australia instead of “at home” — whatever that means. We had a few close friends, but none with kids. I now understand why the adage “it takes a village” exists! Our village in those first couple of months had a population of three! Our friends brought us food and helped out with short mental health breaks with their visits. This kindness will never be forgotten.
After various tryings on, Jamie and I seem to have figured out that we are quite happy to share the load as much as possible — if only, on some days, because it is the only way we can mangage. He once said ‘if I don’t do it, that means you will’. So true! The dishes and laundry don’t do themselves and if both of us work on it… But that’s the day to day grind…what about the REAL stuff? The parenting stuff?
We share that, too. Now that I have gone back to work full time, I spend less time with bub than I did. I get to be home with him one day during the week, Jamie is home with him two days a week and we both are off on the weekends. Fortunately, here in Oz, it’s not exactly the “norm”, but it’s not the most unusual thing to see dads and bubs hanging around during the day, during the week. I feel like he probably gets a little more flack about it than he lets on, but he seems so happy to be home with bub and I am in love with that and with the two of them together!
Each and every day we are learning new ways to live our new life together as parents and each day I am humbled by the amazing opportunity that bub presents us with — an opportunity to love, grow, and be amazed at all the little things in life. I had forgotten much of that in my mad rush to get the laundry done or to get my life back. It took learning from another mother’s tragic loss of her own bub that has really put life and my priorities in perspective. This is life and being a mum is amazing, once I learned to just roll with it.