Reflections on the First Month of Parenthood

02 October 2011
So BabyG is now one month old. It's been the longest and the quickest month of my life, quite startlingly unlike anything I could have imagined.

I thought I knew crazy hanging around engineering students, but I'd never had someone throw up on my breasts before. I thought I knew frustrating dealing with advertising clients who insisted on using seven different fonts in one ad, but I hadn't yet had to change nappies three times in ten minutes - or seven times in two hours. I coped well as a youth worker with several teenagers, but discovered it's different with a newborn - your shift doesn't end. And there are the days when you realise it's 1pm, I'm still in my pajamas, and I've just eaten a cornetto, because it is full of sugar and can be eaten with one hand. How did it come to this?

For all that though, it's really not as bad as I was expecting. At the end of the book Up The Duff, the character whose imaginary pregnancy diary we've been following reflects on early parenthood. She makes it seem a horror show of epic proportions - not knowing if it's day or night, no sleep whatsoever, being unable to shower or eat or do anything much at all except sob and wait for your kid to start school. It hasn't been like that for me. The first few weeks were bloody tough it's true, but that was more about my physical state after the c-section and broken rib, rather than the baby. When other mothers speak of how little sleep they're getting, I only smile and remain silent, knowing that if I confessed how much sleep BabyG gets, they'd beat me to death with bottles of frozen EBM. The house hasn't gotten particularly messy. There are no piles of laundry. I fear we're doing it wrong.

I've learned not to turn to books for guidance. Parenting books are, well, rather bossy. There's two opposing schools of thought - the first that you must have your baby adhering to a strict routine or the manipulative little mite will have you getting up at night to them in high school; the other that you must not let your baby cry unattended at any time or they will grow up to suffer major depression, always get picked last for sports teams and never find true love. The verbal sparring between the adherents of each philosophy will, I fear, form the storyline for a series of Underbelly in years to come.

We've decided to go with a see-what-happens-and-go-with-the-flow approach. The days have formed their own sort of routine. We do get out a bit, but it's easier just to stay home a lot of the time when you have a baby who still breastfeeds for hours on end (that said, my first public breastfeed was in the pub - go hard or go home I say). I've had my run ins with Foxtel, but they've been a lifesaver in recent weeks. I've read a lot of forums but haven't touched most of the parenting books. Maybe I should write one of my own, but I don't know how I ended up with a newborn who sleeps through at night. Pure bloody luck. I couldn't write a book any time soon. Sleep aside, I still have pretty shocking baby brain and it's taken ages to write this post. Parenting always changes though, I've learned that already, so maybe in a year or two, I'll be ready to scribe all this. Just one problem - DH is already saying he wants another one.


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