It probably all looks so lovely and cute to any unsuspecting outsider who’s never taken care of a newborn baby of their own, but the truth is – taking care of and responding to the needs of your little darling in those first 6 weeks may be one of the most stressful things you ever do. It was for me.
Now that Joshi is 11 months old things are so much easier. Not only have we had some practice at being parents, he’s also much easier to take care of. So yes, it does all change, but boy were those first six weeks challenging. During that time I was absolutely exhausted, ridiculously sleep deprived, (yes, there’s good reason why sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture) and often quite teary. Some of the biggest cries I’ve ever had in my life happened during that time. Despite all the wonderful, loved-up, incredibly precious moments that kept occurring, adapting to life with this new little was challenging and at times very overwhelming.
During those first 6 weeks Joshi didn’t do many car journeys, but there were some. I remember one of the first and hardest car trips I ever made with him. He was no more than six weeks old. It was crazy hard just getting to the point where we were ready to leave the apartment. It took forever. You see, with a newborn, you don’t just ‘pop out.’ Well, you could if you were just wrapping them in the baby carrier and going for a walk round the block, but not for a car journey. Larger journeys need to be prepared for with military precision. Simultaneously, while preparing to leave, you need to keep taking care of your baby’s moment-to-moment needs as well as any very basic needs of your own. And then you need to make sure you take with you whatever you might need. The contents in my ‘going out with a baby bag’ have changed since then, but when he was around 6 weeks old this it what I needed:
- something to clean him with incase he went while I was driving – I had a small squirty bottle of water and cotton wool balls,
- a change of clothes or two in case of a huge squirty poo which goes everywhere,
- a small changing mat to protect the car seat from baby poo,
- a plastic bag to put dirty nappies in,
- nappy rash cream of some sort (I hardly ever needed this because we were EC’ing Joshi, but I used the black tube of pawpaw appointment because it’s petroleum free, unlike the one in the red one),
- a bunny rug or blanket incase he got cold,
- a couple of vomit rags to wipe off any milky spews,
- a large bottle of water to keep myself hydrated,
- a few snacks to satisfy those outrageously strong and unavoidable breast-feeding hunger pangs.
- And, of course, something to carry him in once we reach our destination – ergo baby carrier. Thank God we had a baby carrier. It made life so much easier. I tried lifting and mantling a pram a few times – it was outright pesty.
Once I’d got all of the above together we’d eventually managed to leave the apartment. But then came the dreaded car drive. I know it might sound ridiculous to you, but there were times when a three-minute car drive felt like eternity. At that stage driving anywhere with Joshi in the car was incredibly stressful. It was like the ultimate test for me of how centred I was (or wasn’t). He would cry and cry and cry as though being strapped into that rear facing baby car seat was just the most awful thing in the whole wide world. Those ear-piercing, heart wrenching cries would go right through me. Not so great for your nervous system – being stuck in traffic and unable to pull over while your baby is clearly in a lot of distress. Of course coping with that crying when you’re well-rested and feeling good is one thing; handling it when you’re knackered is something else. I was knackered.
I did heaps of singing and chanting in the car. Humming sometimes worked a treat. But often nothing I did or said would help. So I’d end up pulling over, taking him out, checking to see if he was wet or needed EC’ing, comforting him, maybe feeding or just holding him and then when he was settled, Id strap him back in again and off we’d go. There was never a guarantee that he wouldn’t be crying full tilt again within the next minute, but how often can you pull over! (Often). I totally gave up being in hurry to get places. I had to. It was a great lesson in letting go. I’d always let people know that I’d be arriving anytime between a certain hour and the next one or two. And when I was smart I’d allow at least a couple of hours for getting ready and reaching our destination. Thank God that phase is over.
When Joshi was 6 months old, it occurred to me how much easier things had become since he was born. Suddenly Joshi was quite happy in the car seat, entertaining himself with the new sounds he could make, looking here and there. Basically chilled out. And I wasn’t sleep deprived. I may not have been entirely rested, but put it this way – I wasn’t utterly knackered. I think by then my body had learnt how to manage sleep deprivation and I was also practicing kriya and mediation almost every day, which helped enormously.
Now, 11 months later, so much has changed. I can’t believe he’s almost a year old! Of course challenges still come and go, but now things are easier with moments of challenge rather than challenging with moments of ease. I’ve noticed that with parenting, just when you think you’ve nailed handling certain challenges they change and disappear and new ones come up. Before you realise it, the challenges you once had, which felt as though they’d last forever, become a distant memory. No wonder mammas keep having more babies!