Reality’s kicked in, you’re out of that first week haze and you’re trying (trying being the operative word here) to get some kind of structure back in your life. After all the fluffy pillows, clouds and love hearts of the first two weeks now’s the time where the sleep deprivation side effects have well and truly kicked in. Who knew one little person could take up so much of your time too? There are a few things I’ve come to learn are pretty normal (I say lightly) in the first six weeks. And I wish someone had told us what to expect so we could prepare.
I love my husband, I really do. But I never knew how much lack of sleep could affect us. It’s not the kind of tiredness where you can have a cat nap and all will be fine. It’s a new state of mind; the limited sleep paired with a new lifestyle. A lifestyle where you don’t stop moving. Life is a carousel of nappy changes, burping, feeding, picking up things, sterilising bottles, playing with the jungle gym, on repeat from 7am until 12am. So naturally you’ll feel irritable. You’ll need help.
With my family being in Wales and Dan on 3 months paternity leave, I’ve relied on him more than I ever expected. I get jealous if he sleeps, annoyed if I feel he’s not doing enough. I get cabin fever not leaving the house. But after the fourth time you’ve screamed the D word (divorce) in the heat of the moment (true story), you come to learn that you need a ‘reset’ button. A word said so that both can take a pause and calm down, forget what the argument was about and realise there’s this amazing gift who’s sensitive to surroundings and her parent’s mood. It’s so easy to get caught up in things!
I wasn’t going to say anything about this on the blog but I want to be real with mums. Do your kegal exercises whilst pregnant and post baby! Recently if I sneeze or laugh too hard, I wee myself a little. Even 6 weeks on. True story. Mia came using forceps and a ventouse as well as an episiotomy. After a visit to the GP I was told that by isn’t that common six weeks after giving birth. So I’ve been told to up the amount of exercises (squeeze and drop) and have been referred to a physiotherapist who deals with that kind of thing. Ladies if you’re experiencing this 6 weeks later, it’s worth mentioning to your doctor.
Your New Fringe
I’d been thinking about having the front of hair cut for such a long time. As I washed my face, bleary eyed and a little pale I noticed the new shorter bits peeking out of my pony tail. But hold on, I don’t recall booking the hair appointment or even visiting the salon? Nope, this new look is thanks to post pregnancy breakage. Throughout pregnancy my hair grew like wildfire, super thick and long. I knew some people have a brief period where the hair thins after having a baby but that didn’t happen to me. Instead the front of my hair has snapped and is still breaking in random lengths. It’s due to hormones and the reduction in estrogen levels.
I said in my last post how difficult I’ve found breastfeeding to be. I believe there’s an unnecessary amount of pressure put on women by hospitals, society and even some friends and family to breastfeed. Each time I couldn’t satisfy Mia with enough milk and it got too painful I’d feel so awful about feeding her a bottle of formula. Which is stupid. It’s not like you’re giving the baby a McDonald’s every time you feed them. It suited me more to combine feed, so expressing breastmilk and offering formula. As time went on she’s now exclusively bottle fed. And I’m so happy we’ve finally found a way to please us both. Happy mum, happy baby! By the way, breastmilk is super easy to store in the fridge just make sure you don’t almost pour it all over your morning cereal as I almost did in a 1 hour sleep haze.
As each day goes by the love for Mia grows stronger and stronger. Is it possible to love her more tomorrow than I do today? At 6-7 weeks babies are more responsive and start to show signs of knowing your voice and seeing shapes. I love lying her on the mat and leaning over to talk to her. The smallest of things become the biggest deal. The moment they lock your eyes, the minute they start watching you move from side to side, even that first time they sleep for 5 hours straight. This magnificent creature is so worth it.
At six weeks Mia is now more alert, aware of her surroundings and our voices. While I was pregnant bath time was one of those things that I absolutely couldn’t wait to take Mia through! So now we enjoy lots of baths with super gentle baby shampoo/body wash from Kit and Kin and try to capture as many videos of her bath time smiles as possible. There’s lots to be said about skin on skin contact so don’t be afraid to take baby in the bath with you!
Babies look alike. Fact. And it’s often hard to distinguish the sex of a baby especially when they’re dressed in gender neutral baby grows. Mia’s wardrobe boasts 50 shades of pink, grey and cream so it’s not difficult to identify her as a lady. But you will get some people who ask “how old is he?” As my friend Leala suggested when a lady asked of (pink baby grow clad) Mia “what’s his name?, we should reply “his name is Dave”. It’s important to not take it personally when people get confused. It happens to everyone. Mia couldn’t look anymore feminine if she tried (beautiful girl). Just don’t confuse from the get go like I did when I said “good boy” when she burped (again, the sleep deprivation!).
I made no secret of the fact I put on almost 4 stone when pregnant. I really embraced pregnancy (the takeaways, the binges, the four meals a day…) But even though I really want to get back into shape I know it’ll take time. I was surprised to discover I’ve already lost some weight (Mia was a heavy baby and all that water) and a lot of that is down to running around looking after a baby too. And of course the irregular ‘eat when you can’ meal times. I’m not going to beat myself up over a Cadbury’s flake for breakfast but now coming up to a month and a half after giving birth it’s important to focus on healthy eating and nutrition. After all our babies expect a happy, healthy mum with a long life expectancy.
6 weeks post baby you’ll also notice a change in your body. Your stomach has started to shrink (although still a way to go) and in my case boobs and bum may go South. Of course that can be easily fixed with gym visits but it’s essential to give yourself this time to enjoy your baby and be kind to yourself. Those gym classes can wait a while. Make sure you’ve had your 6 week check with the GP before signing up too.
Essential Mum Shop
I’ve never paid particular attention to other people’s shopping baskets in the supermarket. Well, unless I was single and saw someone I liked. But as I walk around Waitrose and spot other mums I notice there’s a common trolley. White wine, baby milk, nappies, deli food (probably for lunch) and oven meals (for dinner). Am I bad for wanting white wine on a Thursday night while baby sleeps? No. Hmm, how about Tuesday night?
During weeks 6-7 it’s normal for babies to develop a new style of crying. Shrieking in fact. Whether it’s problems with wind, with digestion or nappies it’s often hard to distinguish what’s wrong. You try everything and eventually find something that does work magic. For us? Once we’ve gone through the rigmarole, it’s singing James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” on repeat for 5 minutes. It (usually) stops her crying and she’ll stare into our eyes and follow our face. Dan’s also mastered the art of swinging her gently from side to side so that she falls asleep. Mia isn’t too keen on the Welsh National Anthem being sang full pelt though.