Initially this blog post had the opening sentence “Scarlett is six months old today.” But due delays in the proceedings let’s change that…
Scarlett is 6mths old now. She arrived in this world half a year ago. It really does feel like she’s been here forever and yet it’s gone so so fast. I can honestly say it has been the most amazingly exhausting, most anxiously thrilling and most eye opening six months of my life. I’ve have never cried so much, laughed so much, loved so much or exposed my boobs so much!
I naively thought I’d be able to blog loads when she was tiny. I was told these months are the easiest to get things done!!! This doesn’t bode well for the future… as you can see I’ve not been able to post all that much due to having a baby who doesn’t like daytime sleeping, but I couldn’t let this milestone pass without sharing a few thoughts.
Thought no.1: tiredness
I’m not nearly as tired as I expected to be. I’m mentally exhausted but not sleepy tired. I did wonder before I had Scarlett if I would cope better with the tiredness because I’ve spent years feeling tired due to my fibromyalgia. I mentioned it to a couple of friends a few years ago and they laughed and said “you wait” but neither of these people have experienced chronic illness and one did say “maybe we didn’t know what tired really was before” and I think this is true. I’m not taking away from how tired people are and I have been very lucky that Scarlett sleeps well at nights (Mostly! Let’s not talk about last night!) but I am so used to being physically tired that I’ve coped really well. This has been a massive relief as I was worried about whether I’d cope with this aspect of motherhood, in fact it was what I was most anxious about.
Being mentally exhausted is something different though. You don’t switch off as a mummy and that can take its toll at times. And Scarlett is a baby who needs constant entertaining, don’t get me wrong I love that she’s so into everything and has such an inquisitive mind but it’s non stop, especially without day time sleeps. I’ve managed to establish good, relaxed morning routines to allow myself to function for the rest of the day! That and lucozade helps!
Thought no.2: Breastfeeding
I have now reached the 1% of women in the uk who exclusively breastfeed until 6mths. This statistic still shocks me. But breastfeeding is not how I expected it to be. I was naive and a bit blinkered before I had Scarlett and used to get cross at what I felt was so much negativity around how hard breastfeeding is. I felt like people were scaremongering and expecting to fail. But OMG it is so much harder than I ever imagined. We struggled a lot to start with, the pain was unbearable even though Scarlett appeared to have a good latch. By day 4 I was using nipple shields which I carried on using until she was 7wks. She had a slight tongue tie and once that was sorted it improved. Scarlett feeds a lot. She snacks during the day and then feeds for a long time before bed. Now she is 6mths this rarely lasts more than 1.5hrs but when she was tiny it would start at 7pm and sometimes not stop until 2am.
However, it was never an option to stop breastfeeding and I am so proud that every ounce of Scarlett has been grown by me. Breastfeeding is amazing, our bodies have the ability to give life and nourishment to our children. It still hurts when she feeds on the right side but I’ve got used to that. It’s still uncomfortable to find the right position with my pain. There are times when I don’t enjoy it, when I’m being pinched and kicked and she faffs for England. But there are times when she places her podgy little hand on me, looks up with those bright blue eyes and gives me a cheeky grin mid suck they make me cherish it. I truly hope to be able to say I’m still breastfeeding her when I post about her first birthday.
I also never expected to be quite so relaxed about whipping my boobs out whenever she needs me too and not being overly fussed about covering up!
Thought no.3: eating
The thing I would say I’ve found hardest about being a single mummy is eating! I did not expect this at all!! Scarlett does not like letting me have a hot meal! I think I’ve survived the last 6 months on bread and butter and chocolate digestives!! We will have phases where it works well, for example at around 4mths she loved watching musicals so I could pop one on the telly and I’d be able to eat. At the moment she’s happy in the jumperoo or sat beside me in her high chair. People promised me meals when I was pregnant. I’ve not had many!! If you see me, I ask you – please feed me!!
Thought no4: perfectionism
My biggest observation is that I’m not the type of mummy I thought I’d be. This does upset me but I am coming to terms with it. I’ve been told by so many people that I’m only going to get it right half the time and no one can be perfect. But this is a concept I’ve always struggled with. If I do something I like to do it well and be the best at it. Anything less doesn’t sit well with me. But I am not the perfect mummy. I get frustrated, I get cross and snap, I want her to stop clawing at me, I don’t like her whingey noise and sometimes I would just love her to watch the telly for a bit so I can play on my phone!! The midwife spotted my perfectionist tendencies early on and told me I was my harshest critic. She said I needed to cut myself some slack and take a step back to see what a good job I’m doing. My health visitor has told me I’m doing a better job than a lot of 2 parent families. To Scarlett I am everything, and through her eyes I am perfect because I’m her mummy. But being her everything makes me feel more pressure to be perfect. However, I don’t want Scarlett to feel this constant need to be the best so I hope we can learn together that it’s ok to make mistakes. She is fed, she is clean, she is warm (or cool this week!), she is entertained and stimulated, she is socialised and she could not be more loved. Maybe I’ve got this after all.
Thought no.5: friendship
I’ve made some amazing friends over the last 18 months. Firstly, online through solo mum Facebook groups, on Instagram and the amazing community of fertility treatment Twitter! Then after that came my nct and new mummy friends. We’ve all navigated this journey together and turned to each other for support and solidarity. The lovely Hana Manthorpe of The Mental Movement (www.thementalmovement.com) wrote a blog about her first six months as mummy to the scrummy Herbert recently and one sentence particularly resonated “It turns out, for me, this wasn’t plan B. It was plan A* all along.”
Hana, I wholeheartedly agree! This is no back up plan, I’ve not ‘had’ to do things this way. This is how it was always meant to be. Just me and my girl.