Around the Bend in Eighty Days

*coughs* *blows dust off blogging seat*

So. Been a while, right? It feels like forever since I’ve swept my way around Clockwatching… towers, but it’s only been a couple of months (not quite the eighty days of the title, but c’mon. It was too good not to use). Thanks to you all for sticking with me (my stats have been booming, guys! Love to all y’all) and for being interested in what I’m doing and how things have been for me and my little family.

Well. In short, things have been great.

And terrible.

Great and terrible. I think anyone with a new baby can relate. We’ve had nights of relentless screaming, and we’ve had moments of pure panic, and we’ve had instances of utter and complete raglessness (as a friend put it, very aptly) when I’ve managed to lose my head completely. I’ve been down the road of Post-Natal Depression, and I’ve realised that I’m not as strong nor as naturally maternal as I always assumed, and I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with admitting that things are getting overwhelming  and you need help. I was terrible at accepting help before the baby came along. Sometimes, though, you just need to let someone else do your dishes or sweep your floor, no matter how much it pains you.

I’m very lucky to have had immense amounts of help from family and friends, and to have years’ worth of wisdom to draw on from people who have been here before me. So thank you to everyone. There are a couple of friends (no names, but they know who they are) who’ve been particularly amazing. So cheers to them both. Neither me nor baby would be in quite such good shape without my little backing crew – and boy do I know it!

 

elvis

Everyone needs their backing crew – even the King. Photo Credit: Lawrence Chard via Compfight cc

But things have begun to get back to normal. Baby is getting older, and more settled, and we are all getting used to one another. Routines are being established. Smiling has started happening – and not just the sort of smiling one gets from a baby with a full stomach, but the sort that says ‘I see you. I know you. You’re my family.’ Any amount of sleepless worry is worth that tiny flicker of love. We’ve bought a baby sling – a cloth carrier – which Junior seems to enjoy (fingers crossed) and we’re experimenting with cloth nappies, which hasn’t been going so well.

But enough about that.

I’ve been learning lots of new skills, too (as well as not forgetting my old ones; I was terrified I’d have forgotten how to type, or spell, or think – but luckily all seems intact!) and discovering that having a baby really prepares you for so many different sorts of career paths. If the writing thing goes belly-up, I feel vastly qualified already to do any of the following:

Mind reader: Because when you spend most of your time interacting with a person who is non-verbal and whose idea of a good conversation involves screaming, flailing, dribbling, fixing you with a series of intense stares, and fairly random body convulsions, you get good at interpreting thought patterns. (Or just making use of guesswork. Who knows?)

Interpretive dancer/mime artist: Until you’ve caught yourself dancing round your kitchen to ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’, making gooey faces and accompanying your vocal performance with limb twitching, you haven’t lived.

Animal wrangler: Babies eat. A lot. All the time. Around the clock. This means they need to be fed at night. My baby does not like waking up at night to feed. It happens, however, despite Junior’s best intentions, and after hours of moaning and groaning and snuffling and whuffling and kicking off of blankets, eventually baby comes to and instantly – instantly – the wailing for milk will begin. Now. Trying to balance a scarily strong infant on one knee while warming up a bottle (which involves dealing with boiling water in the dark, which is always fun) and attempting to get the milk down said infant’s neck without scalding someone and/or the infant back-flipping out the bedroom window is a true skill. I feel fully prepared to take up a job as a weasel wrestler any day now.

CIA operative: Admittedly my knowledge of what CIA operatives do is largely based on watching ‘Homeland’, but it seems to involve withstanding torture a lot of the time. Listening to a colicky baby screaming for hours on end will prepare anyone for that. Believe me.

Land speed record holder: For when you’re downstairs and the baby monitor informs you of disaster unfolding upstairs, or you’re in another room (taking a Xanax, perhaps) and you hear the air-raid siren warming up in its bassinet, you run. You run. And after a while you get pretty fast.

Lip reader: When you’re silly enough to try to watch TV with a baby, you need to be able to lip read. Go figure.

Statistician: Anyone who has ever spoken to a new parent will agree on one thing: they talk about poop. A lot. How often the baby goes. How long it takes. What colour it is. What consistency it is. The sheer power of its aroma, based on how similar it smells to the Bog of Eternal Stench. And so on. We’ve taken to keeping a poop log (no sniggering down the back) where we record times of poops and what sort they are. We also have a feeding log. We like to map the data. In graph form. Don’t judge us, for we are nerds.

Somnambulist: Not that this is a job, per se. But it’s definitely a skill. I walked up and down the stairs without opening my eyes once, and didn’t realise I’d done it until I was back in the baby’s room. Sort of scary, but a bit impressive too.

Anyway. One thing you’ll note is, of course, that having a baby doesn’t exactly lend itself to writing. I haven’t written anything longer than a Tweet for many many moons. My WordPress back-end has changed beyond recognition, and I’m feeling at sea even on this blog, my safe place. However – there is light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps I speak too soon, but – here it is, whisper it – I’m getting the hang of this parenting lark.

So. Before too long I hope to be back to a semi-regular schedule. I hope to get back to work. I have ideas still pinging into my dried up little brain – not so many, and not all good, but they’re coming – and so I hope to have time, and something to write about, as the new year rises.

Until then, wish me luck. And thank you for still being here. It does this tired mama’s heart good to see it. Adios, till next time!

 

17 thoughts on “Around the Bend in Eighty Days

  1. Maurice A. Barry

    Nice to see you back. Your lovely post brought back some memories 🙂 In my case many of those things were quite far in the past (a quarter century in the case of eldest) but still oh, so vivid! It’s unimaginable just how profoundly a child affects our existence, isn’t it? Hard, but in the end, good. I used to joke that my life began again with the birth of my first son. These days I realize it was no joke.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks, Maurice! Feels good to be back. Though perhaps I shouldn’t get too comfy – this road is ever about taking two steps back for every step forward! But we’ll get there. Glad you enjoyed the post. Life has changed utterly for me, but – as you say – it’s all good. Love to you and the family. x

      Reply
  2. Gretta

    Welcome back. This blog should be compulsory reading for all new mothers. Most, if not all, mothers new and old will identify with your journey. Well done.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you! I think new mothers should be compelled to know a lot of home truths – life would be a lot easier for them if they did. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. xx

      Reply
  3. highinbrixham

    I’ve missed you! Glad all is going well. I had the same experience 35 years ago. Babies are strange little aliens for those first few months, and I decided I didn’t have a maternal cell in my body. A few months pass, and then they become really interesting little friends.
    The same thing has now happened to me, second generation – our granddaughter was born 7 months ago, and since then I’ve hardly written a thing. My brain seems to have turned to mush! And that’s just being a GRANDparent! It’s a totally wonderful experience, though; I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you! And congratulations on your own granddaughter. We are slowly getting used to one another and baby is getting used to being in the world, and hopefully we’ll all muddle through! But it is such a huge learning curve. I lived all my life convinced I would be a ‘natural’ mother to whom everything would come effortlessly; nothing could have been further from the truth. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but hopefully also the most rewarding.

      Reply
  4. Kieran

    Nice to see you back. Really enjoyed this post. Your lip-reading paragraph reminded me that we used the subtitles feature for months when we had a small baby. I remember watching an entire James Bond film walking up to the TV and then away from the TV carrying a baby. So I watched 10 seconds, missed ten seconds, watched ten seconds etc. Interesting way to watch (half) a movie. Only other job I’d add to the list is ninja (surprise, surprise!) but you get very good a stealth – sneaking across creaking floor-boards while a baby is asleep!

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Ha! I forgot ninja! How could I. Though a friend described the inventor of Tai Chi as the parent of a small baby, creeping away from the crib, and I think it describes the movements perfectly. 🙂 The subtitles thing is ace: we will try that!

      Reply
  5. Jan Hawke

    The person who invents volume control for infants will be Monarch of the World – until then lip reading will be mandatory…
    Glad you’re still Clockwatching (with extra reasons like the poop log) – don’t obsess about when ‘next time’ will be, just make good use of the down-time when parenting can take a well-earned nap 😉

    Reply
  6. mediocremeg14

    All true! My favourite “interpretive dance” moment was when I suddenly realised I was dancing the Charleston on the middle of a crowded train platform to keep my bored toddler from trying to get out of her pram. I think that was the first moment I really truly felt like a “Mum”.

    Also, babywearing is THE BEST thing you can do. Find a local sling meet to try out different carriers and work out the most comfortable fit. So much easier than a pram when they aren’t mobile yet – and a godsend when they’re grizzly and unsettled and refusing to let you put them down.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks! Yep, we had our first long outing yesterday (to do some Christmas shopping) and I wore junior in my brand new Girasol MySol and it was great. I admit I was a little smug, sneaking in and out of shops like a sylph while others with prams battered the ankles off innocent bystanders. And baba enjoyed it too, once the initial ‘aaagh scream what is this newness I hate it!’ wore off. *sigh* 🙂

      Reply

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