It’s been almost 6 months since our little pudding joined the world and it still baffles and bemuses me to comprehend that she is here, that she is ours and that she exists because of us. Nothing could have prepared me for the way I have felt in these past 6 months. It has by no means been plain sailing, but on the flip-side we haven’t had any major dramas either – just the usual rollercoaster that is raising a baby. In the past 6 months, I have been pushed to my limits of almost every emotion. And it’s still been worth every single second.
Here’s a few of my humble observations of the first six months as a first-time mum…
Not having a clue what you’re doing…
For us, the first couple of months we were completely winging it (and to be honest, we kind of still are because she is constantly changing and every month and every development presents a new range of challenges.) Month one in particular, was simply a ‘firefighting’ exercise…our little girl would cry and we would have a list of solutions to work through.
Tired? No, just had a nap
Hungry? No, just had a bottle
Windy? Maybe, just had a bottle… burp burp. Still crying…
Nappy change? Don’t know – let’s go see. Ok, nappy changed. Still crying…
What else, what else?
Cold? Oooo maybe. Extra layer. Ssshhhh. I think that might have done it…
Perhaps somewhat selfishly, I found those first few months really difficult. You’re doing everything you can to keep this little person as happy and comfortable as possible, and to be honest, you’re not really getting much back. Every day resets itself – so what worked today might not work tomorrow and probably didn’t work yesterday.
Lack of sleep, hormones all over the place, body conscious issues, and the constant feeling that you’re an utter failure and your baby doesn’t like you can all lead to tension, heightened emotions and a difficult learning curve that can put unwanted strain on your marriage.
But the epic meltdowns are made up for ten-fold by the slightest of little neck nuzzles and soft contented little sighs during one of those magical new born cuddles. We must be doing something right…
Three (months) is the magic number.
The first smile came, somewhat concerningly, on Halloween! One month after she was born. And little by little her interaction grew over the next couple of months until we noticed a big change around Christmas. Now she could track you with her eyes, look right at you and giggle at your silly faces. A noise that absolutely makes my heart sing. There is no other way to describe it!
It was also around month 3 when she settled into something of a feed, sleep, play routine. Finally we were able to (sort of) predict what was coming and work our days around naps and feeds. Life as we knew it could kind of resume. If we timed it right we could visit family, get a spot of lunch, visit a museum, and even indulge in a pre-Christmas trip away.
My own days now took some kind of shape as I was able to time household chores around her new predictable routine. The only downside is that now I am accustomed to such a regimented week, I find it a lot more difficult to deal with it when it all goes out the window!
A few factors that have so far thrown my perfectly timetabled week into disarray have been teething (this is the work of the devil I’m sure!), wonder weeks (thank goodness someone has made some kind of sense out of these on cue meltdowns), and vaccinations (oh my days, vaccinations! Yeh… I’m still scarred from the fallout of the last batch!)
But although we still have (really) rough days, life overall is getting easier. Even if it’s just because now she can smile at me that perfect little smile and the trauma of the past 12 hours melts away with the tiny pieces of my heart that she has simultaneously stolen.
Routine is no longer a bad word
As well as her new found routine (which we must now live by to the letter or else deal with the epic consequences later…), Andrew and I have also fallen into a new kind of routine of our own. I’ve always been so fixated on not wanting to become a cliché and end up in a routine of crashing out on the sofa at the end of the day, but in actual fact, that’s exactly how life is panning out at the minute. And you know what… it’s not the end of the world.
Sure sometimes I long for those spontaneous trips to cocktail bars and a night of fine dining, but a cheeky take away, a cuddle on the couch and another 3 episodes of whatever Netflix series we’re currently obsessed with is the only thing I want to do! It’s my simple pleasure to know that Andrew, and the couch, will be waiting to greet my weary bones at the end of the day when the house finally drifts into a temporary calm.
Finding time for our marriage
One of my biggest fears whilst we were pregnant was the impact a new baby would have on our marriage. I’ve touched on the strain in those early weeks and the stress of the situation really can put any relationship to the test. But we worked through it. I’m not sure at what point the tension eased, but somewhere in the past few months we both found our way as parents. We allowed each other time out to collect ourselves when it’s all become too much. We’ve come to respect each others’ parenting style. We’ve grown closer as we’ve learned more about our daughter and what is best for her, and us as a family.
So far we have managed two date nights out… and we’re fast requiring a third. As difficult as it is to leave our little girl with anybody else (although she is always of course in the safest possible hands with family), it has been really important for the two of us to have time out together. Yes, again as the old cliché goes, we did spend much of our time talking about the baby, but she is everything to both of us, so why wouldn’t we?!
Even when we don’t have date nights out, we do try to make the effort to spend time together and as bedtimes became more predictable (again around 3 months) we’ve been able to reclaim our evenings – enjoying some fun DIY date nights at home…
Time passes by so quickly
Even now as I write I cannot believe that she is almost 6 months old. My tiny little new born is growing up wayyyyy to fast (another cliché that is absolutely true!). She is learning new skills every day. She is growing every day. Her face changes every day. And pretty soon she will be off to nursery and I will be back at work after what has felt like a blink of an eye.
I have never noticed the passage of time so much as I have since she was born, and it frightens me to think that every experience is just on borrowed time. One day (one day not too far away) she will be all grown up, moving on with her own life. This is one of the reasons why I obsess so much over taking photographs and writing in her baby book. I want to cherish every moment, every single memory, because in an instant this happy little family life will have evolved and she will be off creating her own memories with her own family.
A thought which fills me with such happiness and such sadness all at the same time…
A family life for me
I always knew having a family was going to be super important to me, but I never knew exactly how fulfilled it would make me feel to become a mother. I really have found my purpose. Or at least one of them!
As I watch our daughter grow I am excited to think of the memories we will make together as a family. I am excited to wonder at how big our family might grow. Even now, I feel as though someone (or ones..) is missing. Not that Robyn isn’t everything. But there is part of me that just ‘knows’ our family isn’t yet complete. There’s another little boy or girl waiting in the wings for his or her time to come, and I am excited of the possibilities they will bring with them.
I feel as though it has taken me up until now to fully process my new role as wife and mother, and I am stunned at how naturally our little family has slotted into place.
All in all, these past 6 months have changed me completely. Yes, I am still the same woman I was before but my whole mind has changed. I have new priorities, new concerns, new highs and new lows. I have a whole new life to lead, and I’m loving every single second of it.
How did you find those first few months as new parents? Any hints and tips on how to keep your marriage strong? Join the conversation on Twitter @LoveinMindBlog or leave us a comment below.