What do you see when you look at this photo? Or this one?
Some photos of a newborn with its mama? Well yes, that’s what the photo is of. But it’s not what I see. I see fear. Worry. Anxiety. There is nothing quite as wobble inducing as having a baby.
As rose tinted as my glasses may become, I don’t know that I will ever forget that fear.
There is no other job on Earth that you could be so woefully underprepared for. Whether you read 100 books (hi, Gina Ford) or none, there is nothing quite like the actual emotion of holding this tiny vulnerable newborn and thinking
“Right…so what now?”
There is no manual (though Amazon will disagree) but there is well-meaning advice from family, friends and strangers. However this advice is like treacle. Sifting through it with baby brain and post-partum hormones is easier said than done.
I felt guilt at not automatically discerning one squawk from another initially. I felt fear at every turn and my Google search history could probably get me committed. In fact I will be doing a blog post on insane googling tomorrow. She would cry and I would Google.
I had heard a lot about mother’s instinct and felt under pressure to decipher everything or be labelled a failure. I was worried I’d be outed as a fraud. Quick. This woman is not fit to MOTHER.
There was a period at the beginning where I dreaded it getting dark (Matilda was born in February so sundown was horrifically early) as night time waking filled me with dread.
Oh but. I get a pang of nostalgia when I look at the the above photos. I am brutally aware of how critical I was of myself. But I can’t help feeling sad at how quickly the newborn stage passed.
My friend Chloe (and the muse for this blog) came over today with her new baby boy Gus. He’s 18 days old. So cuddly and curly and sleepy. My ovaries ached.
The only advice I could offer is “it’s normal to cry” and “it’s normal to google” and “how weird is it to own a human”. I remember how scary it was. I can share that I was scared too. And hope she doesn’t feel alone or abnormal.
It’s the steepest learning curve I’ve ever encountered.
This brute looked enormous next to Gus. It’s such a cliché to say “where has the time gone?” But really, wow.