I had expected having a new born in my life to be relentlessly hard; I had expected to feel completely sleep deprived and exhausted. And that was where my expectations had ended.
I was terrified that I couldn't predict how I was going to cope, I questioned whether I would actually like my baby, I couldn't envisage my routine, I was frustrated that I couldn't commit to a plan.
But really I think the mere fact I held back on scheduling my upcoming newborn days was what made the sleep deprived, hormone flooded, completely clueless days a little easier because I just did what Bambina, Mister O and I needed and wanted. There were no shoulds, woulds or coulds clouding my days, the days just were; some were slow and some were fast, some were tearful and monotonous and others were simply the best of my life.
After a couple of weeks I did have a plan, a schedule, a structure to my day and I believe it saved me and pulled me through the first 4 months of Bambina - it pushed a little pre-Mama SJ back to the surface.
The key to my plan was there was no timing assigned and no order for the list to be completed. It was just a list I had in my head and most days it was easily completed.
So here it is:
1) Sleep - I stayed in bed until 11am if I could. Yes Bambina was waking every 30mins-1hr throughout the night past the first 8 weeks, but she would also do this for at least a 14 hour period. So I stayed in bed, falling in and out of sleep until Bambina was awake awake or I needed lunch. (Brekki was stored in my bedside table for munching during feeds). I actually remember thinking Wow I am getting about 5 hours sleep (in total) - which is totally an achievement!!
2) Shower - I showered daily. Not because I felt dirty but because it was time for me and my body (which had just earned some serious self-respect). Sometimes I would shower at night, sometimes before Bambina woke up, sometimes with her in her bouncer watching me through the glass and sometimes through her tears from her cot. My shower was my time for my body and my mind. It was also when I could cry, let loose and rebuild.
3) Hair - Some days this was just sorting my eyebrows - preventing the 101 Bambina and Mama selfies having the 90's plucking phenomenon bared for all to see. Others it was mum-bun held together by grease and grips. Weekends it could even mean shampoo and a razor - not together and not on the same body part.
4) House clothes - I wore house clothes. Crap, loose clothes that were comfortable, could take some leaks and spillages without me worrying, and would reduce the washing pile growing as I would wear them for days at a time, just swapping the undies.
5) TV - Netflix, News, Music videos, Series - All of it. And none of it was Cbeebies for at least 5 weeks.
6) Blogs and Forums - Reading that I am not the only one thinking the things I was thinking be it: 'Is this colic?', 'How long might the mongolian blue spot be there?' or 'Why are there seeds in my baby's poo?' was massively comforting.
7) Guidance and Leaps - Reading up on them but then using them as guides and not as rules. The Mister and I decided that we should only have to agree with each other on how to parent; opinions, ticklists, charts and guidance was nice to have but we also readily discarded it when it didn't seem right for us and Bambina. We moved Bambina into her own room at 4 months, we started to wean her on to food at 14 weeks, we never went to additional health visitor weigh ins, because for us the guidance didn't fit as rule for these things.
8) Biscuits and wine - I had a glass of vino (or a hot choc loaded with full fat cream) and I yammed a load of biscuits. This was not the time to crack down on my body - it deserved a break - the kit-kat variety.
9) Help - especially from the Mister - I vowed that I would not push him out and try to do it all on my own. I'm not going to lie at times this one has been hard. But asking for a cuppa or a shoulder massage is help too right?
10) Make touch with the world - Whether it be Instagram, Facebook, Messaging, Email or a phonecall - I would make touch with the outside world and pre-mama me at least once a day. Even if that was just stalking a friends profile during the 4am feed...
That's my list.
How did you handle your newborn days? Any tips you would put out there?
This article was originally posted at www.themamacave.com