4 am. The house is eerily quiet except for the gentle sound of my newborn’s light breathing as she nestles in my chest.
The sky is still dark. The walls are starting to move. The shadows in the corners start to take shape. I’m thirsty, but I don’t move. I remain in my chair, rocking the baby, hoping she stays asleep longer than 20 minutes this time around.
In two hours the older two kids will be up. In four hours I will need to ship them off to school. Should I attempt to put the baby down? Start on the lunches now? Shower? Or just sit here, holding her, watching the night escape me, watching the sunrise again.
This is what life with a new baby is…
Sleepless nights. Shadows. Sunrises. This is what new motherhood is all about. In truth, it’s incredible, but, wow, it’s exhausting.
6 am comes and goes. Did I sleep? Or did I just think about sleep?
The other kids arise from their beds, bright eyes, smiling faces. “Mummy, why are you still rocking the baby? Did you even go to bed? Mummy, we’re hungry.”
7 am. Breakfasts, lunches, school uniforms on, tie shoelaces, brush teeth, put hair in a ponytail. “Do it again mummy, the ponytail is not high enough.”
Baby wakes. Hungry. Everything stops (except time) while she feeds. Time keeps ticking on, reminding me we’re late for school. Again.
8 am. School drop-off. I think I hear my name being called but it could be in my head. Did someone just ask me a question? Are they waiting for a response? Are they looking at me or the baby in my arms?
Return to the car, confused. Strap baby back in. Try not to hit anything. Was that a stop sign? Should I stop now or keep going? Bugger it.
9 am. More feeds, more cuddles, more silence
We cuddle in our chair. I debrief in my mind after a big morning. I stare out the window, I stare at her. God, she’s perfect. It’s just the two of us now and it’s peaceful and calm and cozy.
But I need to eat something. What’s allowed? What’s off-limits? What makes baby windy again? Best be safe and just have toast.
10 am. Baby wakes, screaming, farting, big poop. Holy hell. Should it look like that? Google it. Call 13 health. Head to the child health clinic. Be told the exact opposite to what I was told at the last appointment. Return home. Confused.
Noon. She’s back to sleep. Do I try to sleep? I lie down and shut my eyes. Did she just move? Eyes wide open. Pat pat pat. Repeat. More pats. Baby awake. Oh well. Try again next nap.
1.00 pm. Visitors come. Coffee made. Sweatpants off. Make-up on. Talk about the birth, talk about the baby. Thank them for the gift. Add them to the list of Thank-you cards to send out.
2.30 pm. Baby asleep but it’s school pick up time. Gotta wake her, hope she stays asleep when I transfer her. Nope. Eyes open, face red, an empty tummy. But can’t be late for the kids. Can we make it?
No. Baby howling, singing doesn’t help, shushing doesn’t help. Pull the car over. Feed in the front seat. Late again. Always late. Kids are the last ones at the stop, drop and go zone. New mum guilt sinks in. So much guilt.
4 pm. Need sleep. But it’s too late now. The kids want to go to the park. So out comes the carrier and off we go. Kids play. Baby sleeps. Return to make dinner, set table, prepare for what’s to come.
5 pm Arsenic hour. Feed, burp, bounce, walk. Feed, burp, bounce, walk. Again and again and again.
Watch the kids eat dinner from my chair. Watch hubby cut my meal up and feed it to me. One day we’ll eat a meal together again. And I can use both hands.
7 pm. Wander around the house jiggling the baby, nagging everyone to do things. “Did you brush your teeth? Have you finished your homework? Can you put your dirty clothes in the laundry bin?”
8 pm. All three children are asleep. Husband wants to chat, have a drink, hang out. I don’t. I
want need sleep. I’m all touched out. Go to bed feeling guilty, again, but the tiredness finally beats me.
11 pm. Still so tired. But the baby’s not. She’s hungry. And wet. She needs comfort. Mummy’s here. Mummy’s always here. I hold her close, staring at her, studying her face, her toes, her nails. I really need to clip her nails. Add it to the list of things to do tomorrow.
Smell her. Kiss her as she sleeps. Walk her around the house as the clock changes from 11.13 to 11.23 to 11.33. Always 3. Put her down. Check on the other kids. The house is quiet again. Finally, it’s time to sleep.
Body tired. Mind wired. Did I feed the cat? Did I feed the dog? I should really get out of the house, schedule some me-time. I miss me-time. But I’ll also miss her.
Shut up brain. Go the f to sleep.
2 am now. Yet another feed, another change, another cuddle.
Remind myself it’s going to be okay. Things always seem harder at night. In the morning things will be better.
It’s 4 am again. Back in my chair. Head sore, body tired, eyes filled with tears. New mum zombie level: advanced.
Look down at the baby. She’s awake. She’s staring up at me in the dark of the night. Those big eyes taking in my double chin and tired eyes.
She smiles, just a little bit. It’s probably wind, but it’s exactly what I need to see right now, to remind myself that it’s going to be okay.
Feeding her, comforting her, pacing the house at midnight, breastfeeding her in the back of the car on the side of the road, this is exactly what I’m meant to be doing.
Yes, it’s f-ing hard. But, as they say, this too shall pass. One day I won’t be a new mum anymore. One day I’ll sleep longer than two hours, and eat with two hands and make it to the school on time. But, not today. Today I will sit. And rock. And dream of sleep. Because, right now, that’s what she needs me to do.
Being a new mum sure is tough. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do so go easy on yourself. You’re doing good. And in the meantime, here’s a light-hearted look at some common mummy dilemmas: