Those first 6 weeks of Joshi’s life? They were the hardest. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the incredible sleep deprivation of those weeks. I was sooooooooooooo tired. I’m not sure what was disappearing faster – my stash of prana or the very thin line between night and day. I spent the time breastfeeding Joshi, burping Joshi, passing out, waking up, breastfeeding Joshi while passed out, burping Joshi, toilet-training Joshi (yes, we started this early. It’s called EC’ing, which stands for Elimination Communication). You get the picture.
Actually I didn’t even know what it meant to ‘burp’ a baby until I had one of my own. (Incase any of you are as unfamiliar with this term as I was, ‘burping’ them means gently rubbing or patting your baby’s back until they burp. So that they don’t have to put up with the incredible discomfort of having air stuck in their little body).
I was feeding Joshi almost every hour. He was pretty hungry. And a feed would last anywhere between 10 minutes and 1 hour. Then I’d burp him. And somehow I had it in my head that I had to burp him for 20 minutes. Hello! Not sure where I got that one from. Anyway, so there I was, every hour through the day and night, completely zombified, gently rubbing his back for 20 minutes after every feed. (I’ve since found out you only need to burp them for about 2 minutes, or until they burp!)
Then I’d EC him (hold him over the potty and make the sound of a wee), put a clean nappy on and collapse into bed. Because we were using cloth nappies he would want a nappy change as soon as he’d weed or pooed, so within no time I’d be up for another nappy change and then a feed … and on it went.
One day Simon (hubby) came home to find me and Joshi crying on the couch, in the dark. It was one of the hardest days of my life. I was sleep deprived and in so much pain. I had these sharp burning sensations piercing through my breasts and had been crying every time Joshi fed. Simon said I should call our midwife but I just didn’t have the energy to pick up the phone, let alone talk to anyone. Eventually I did. She suggested I might have nipple thrush. What!? I did. Then my back went. It was agony. I could hardly pick Joshi up. And being a mum is very much about picking them up!
A few days later we decided to take Joshi to the ocean for a full moon walk. To get some fresh air. Get out the house. I was so tired I don’t know how I managed to walk. When we got home I slammed my thumb in the car door. Auuoooooow. I ran upstairs and lent over the kitchen sink, my thumb under the water. I don’t know what was running more – the tap or my tears. That’s when we called Jacs (my mother-in-law). She’s in the UK. And said, “can you come over? NOW!”
So how did I survive those first weeks of mammahood? Firstly, with the help of our friends. In those first 6 weeks it was near impossible to make myself a cup of tea or have a shower. I’d usually get the chance to have my morning shower at about 6pm when Simon got home. What made the world of difference were our friends. They were (still are) great. I mean really great. They’d come round and cook for us. They’d cook lunch, dinner, bring food over, stack the dishwasher, unpack the dishwasher, watch Joshi while I had a shower, etc.
And secondly, with the help of my mother-in-law. It made all the difference in the world having someone in our home 24/7. Not just someone, but Jacs. She took the word ‘help’ to a new level. She hung up the laundry, brought it in dry, ironed Simon’s shirts, cooked dinner, took out the compost, went to the shops to replenish supplies, and did it all with so much love.
Looking back I simply don’t know what I’d have done without them. Thanks guys. And thanks Jacs. We love you so much.