Not the post I was going to post
I had another piece that I was going to post today (or three days ago, actually) about how wonderful I think it is that Instagram is trialling the hiding of ‘likes’. I had a whole spiel ready to publish but now, it all seems irrelevant. What I am about to type is something that I would normally keep private; something that I would normally keep tucked away within the pages of my notebook but this morning I thought fuck it.
About three weeks ago, Hunter was in a pretty good sleeping routine (and I say routine very lightly as anyone with a kid knows that there is no such thing as routine, really). He was getting a solid five hours straight up, waking up for a feed around midnight, then waking again at around 2am and then awake and ready to start the day at about 5am (which I realise seems early for most but considering he was waking up at 4am for a while, 5am is a sleep in for me). We were going great!
These last few days have been really difficult. I am going to do my best not to sound whingey, or martyr-ish or negative, instead I am going to simply relay facts and express all the feels. The day Pete went away, Hunter got a really bad cold. He was snotty and blocked and teething and constipated and feverish. It was a lot of fun for both of us. When I put him down as I normally do, he was that blocked that he started choking on phlegm. I became worried that during the night he would stop breathing, which I realise sounds extreme but he was so blocked and struggling to breathe. I brought him into bed with me because Pete was away and he slept through the night. THROUGH. THE. NIGHT.
He is on the mend now, but because of that interruption to his regular routine and also because I couldn’t let him self-settle due to the fact that whenever he cried, he got more blocked, so then he cried more and then – well, you see what I am getting at – he now has no idea what the fuck to do with himself to get himself to sleep. For the last few days NOTHING I have done makes him happy. He has grizzled his way through three days and almost all of my sanity. I pick him up, he cries. I lie him down, he cries. I sit him up, he cries. I put him in the pram, he cries. I hold him in my arms, he cries. I read to him, he cries. I take him on walks, I take him to the park, I feed him. Nothing. It’s been exhausting. He is still getting over his cold, his two front teeth are mere moments away from cutting through his gums and his belly is still getting used to solid food – so I get that there is a lot going on for our little man, but FUCK ME it’s exhausting.
Last night he went down at a quarter past six. Woke up screaming at eight so I went in and fed him. He slept until midnight. Then, he decided that he was awake. He was talking and giggling. He stayed awake from midnight until 2am when I took him out to the lounge. He then started thrashing his head around, trying to shove his hand into his mouth to help ease the pain of his gums so I gave him some panadol and we slept on the lounge until 6.15am.
You know when kids first start drawing and it’s just one big scribble that takes up the whole page? Well, that is what my fucking spine feels like from sleeping on the lounge. A scribble.
I can’t help but automatically think that I am doing something wrong. Why has he been so off for the last three days? Am I not stimulating him enough? Should I be doing more with him? Should I be taking him out even more than I do now? And then, thanks to a scribble back and exhaustion my thoughts then morph into: why can he not sit up fully yet? Why can’t he roll over yet? Should he be able to do more than he can do? And it snowballs and snowballs until my brain is an avalanche and I just want to bury myself in it.
I have also fallen into the trap of comparing myself, my skills as a mother, my mothering style and my child to other mums and babies. Which you know, really helps.. At 1.30am this morning when Hunter was awake, all that I could think of was, “I bet other babies are sleeping through right now.” Which, although true, is not helpful to me to think of. Because those babies are not my concern, right? Hunter is. Fuck, there were some nights before I fell pregnant that I struggled to fall asleep and stay asleep all through the night, whose to say that it isn’t that simple for Hunter as well. And I can’t imagine that cutting teeth is all that fun either. It really is difficult though, in those harder moments to simply be with the toughness of it all and try and have some hindsight in the moment.
I came to the cafe today to see my mum and all but collapsed at her feet. “What am I doing wrong?” I asked her, “What should I do?” In that moment, I realised exactly what I had to do. I had to write this post and stop asking what is wrong with me and what MORE I should be doing. My whole world revolves around my little dude and there is nothing else that I could be doing for him than I am already doing. The natural thing to do when met with a ‘problem’ is to seek the help and advice of those closest to you, and while that is all well and good, this morning I realised that I have stopped listening to my own maternal instincts. I have been so caught up in what I should be doing and what other mums are doing and what my mum did all those years ago when I was a newborn.
I also haven’t been writing – not on here or in my notebook. I haven’t written anything for about a month and I hadn’t realised how detrimental that is for me. I am a writer. I need to write. For me, writing isn’t wholly recreational, it is a need. I need to write to clear my head, to see things as they actually are as opposed to what my mind creates them to be. When I don’t write, I’m not my best self.
So that’s what I had to say today. Hunter is asleep in the pram next to me. I am sitting outside at the cafe with a blanket over my lap and a gas heater blaring next to me. As hard as last night was, nothing compares to the joy that Hunter brings to my life. I’m not me without him.