I have a confession. I did not like the baby stage of motherhood. It's taken me a while to be able to say that comfortably. I had my babies when I was, comparatively speaking, quite young. I was not well prepared. Of all my friends, I pioneered the way, being the first. At the age of 26 when I had my daughter, I don't think I had ever changed a nappy or really even cared for a young baby. Yet there I was, discharged from hospital with this tiny bundle.
At that time my husband had taken a new job as an Executive Assistant or 'EA' - in corporate speak this is the guy who is assigned to an Executive to basically be there every minute of the day, learning the ropes, preparing presentations, meeting the right people. A 'bag carrier' if you will. This meant almost constant presence required in the office, which incidentally was located about 50 miles from where we lived. Let's just say he wasn't home as much as he'd have liked.
I was blue. Soon after the joyousness of having a newborn wore off, and everyone returned to their lives, I was there with a new baby, very few friends in the same position, no sleep and in a state of some anxiety. I marvel at how some new mothers sail through this time. For me it was like being on the choppiest of seas; I was no longer comfortable in my own skin, or in my own presence. Everything I ever knew was turned on its head. It's amazing how such a little addition can change so much. Some say that your relationship with your first-born child is the most complex, as that child is the one who changes you. For me and Boo - this might just be true.
Over time I found my feet, but the blue feeling persisted, as all of the hurdles of new motherhood crept up on me. Breastfeeding a disaster. Sleep-pattern non existent. In fact sleep was non-existent. Meeting like-minded mothers...a gradual, awkward, pain-staking process. Completely absorbing and heavy reliance on the medical profession/self-help books for 'how to do it'. Zero self-assurance. Limited instincts that it was all going to be OK. I think I genuinely felt that those early months would define my life forever. I had no concept that it would get easier.
Of course it did...but the experience did mean that it was four years until I had another child. Having your second child is a whole different ball game, and I knew what to expect when Boo 2 came along. Nevertheless, those blues did make an appearance and I got through it, surrounding myself with strong and patient support.
I now see as we emerge completely - all that remains is an attic full of redundant car seats and baby clothes I can't bear to part with - that the baby stage is just a drop in the ocean of motherhood. It's just one little part of a much, much bigger picture. Looking after and nurturing my children is the most wondrous thing I have ever done and will ever do. I love them all the way to the moon and back. Would never change it. But my goodness those baby days were hard for me. And finally now I see, that's OK. I forgive myself.