My friend had her baby a couple of days ago. As she messaged me updates from the hospital and throughout her first night with her newborn, it took me back to the day almost four months ago when Sam and I are going through the same thing. With a little bit of distance now from that craziness it really struck me that, more than anything else people experience, the birth of your first child is really the day when your entire world changes forever, in my opinion.
Of course life changing events happen to us all throughout our lives. But the sudden realisation that the tiny little helpless human in front of you is absolutely and completely your responsibility is huge . That responsibility feels even more so as a mother if you are breastfeeding because you are the sole source of food for your baby, whatever you may be doing and whatever time of day it is!
I occasionally think back to the day H was born and it induces a real mix of emotions. I still remember the pain and the exhaustion although those feelings are beginning to fade now (as the human brain does what it does well and makes you forget the bad bits). I also remember lying on the bed in the ward after Sam had gone home, looking at our little daughter sleeping and being both in awe and afraid at the same time. The realisation that if she needed anything when she woke it would be all on me seemed pretty strange. Surely I needed to get permission from the midwife first?!
Then there were those nights during the early weeks which are just a blur to me. The unrelenting crying (sometimes the baby, sometimes me, sometimes both!) and feeding whilst I was struggling to stay awake or to eat anything to keep up my energy. I don’t think I have found anything so tough in my life! Normally when things get difficult you can rely on losing yourself in sleep, but not with a baby.
Then of course there is the fact that you go from being a couple to being a family. Never again can we just go out for dinner on a whim. Never again will be go out for dinner without a little part of our mind and heart being left at home (under the care of someone we trust!).
It amazes me how the body and mind adapt though. After 16 weeks, night feeds seem normal to me and I’m used to the broken sleep. Of course I miss sleeping through but nowadays if I get 3-4 how in a row (which I did last night!) then I’m a happy bunny. Also the little smiling face I occasionally get in the middle of the night makes it worth it. After all, it’s not forever!