Back to working from home, 6 weeks after giving birth
OK, so, first up: I’m typing this post with one hand, while the other arm clutches a sleeping baby. I would apologise for the inevitable typos this is going to lead to, but I suspect typos are just going to be a way of life from now on, so…
Secondly, if you’re currently pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, my top tip of the day is that it’s never too soon to start learning to do things with just one hand: it’s possibly the most useful skill you can have as a parent, seriously.
(It’s also never too soon to get used to drinking cold coffee, btw: mine has been microwaved twice already this morning, and it’s cold again, so it looks like cold coffee will ALSO be a way of life now. New tagline – “FOREVER AMBER: cold coffee and typos.” Yup, sounds about right…)
(I actually kind of hate myself right now, because I feel like I’m starting to sound like a fully paid-up member of the JUST YOU WAIT Brigade, and you know how much I HATE that, don’t you? I’ll stop now.)
(I also hate myself for all of the parentheses, but here’s a final one just to say that yes, I do know I could use a thermos for my coffee and put the baby in a sling, and all of my troubles would be over. You always think of these things once the baby’s already sound asleep, and the sling is on the highest, least accessible, shelf of the closet, though, don’t you? And by “you”, I obviously mean “me”…)
OK, I’ve put him in his crib. Let’s start this one again, shall we? LOOK, A CUTE BABY:
(Little knitted onesie from Tu at Sainsbury’s, who do the BEST baby clothes, not even joking. Especially little knitted ones, that I will never, ever be able to throw away, and will have to keep forever once he outgrows them…)
So! Since Max arrived, it’s been even more important to me to try to keep documenting our lives, so he can one day look back and see what it was like when he was a tiny baby, and also how many sets of parentheses his mother could put into the start of a blog post, without ever getting to the actual point. Well, the actual point of this post is that, so far, most of that documenting has had to take the form of grainy iPhone photos (See above, for evidence), because it turns out that new babies are pretty all-consuming, really, and you can’t just say to them, “Look, dude, I know you’re hungry and all, but mummy has an important blog post to write, so pipe down for now, OK?”
This week, though, the stock of posts that I’d written in and advance and scheduled to go live during my maternity leave finally ran dry, so I’ve been back to “work” (Inverted commas there, not because I don’t think blogging is “work”, but because I’m doing the absolute minimum I can to get by and keep paying the bills right now…), which will hopefully include regular diary posts again.
Luckily, my return to “live” blogging has coincided with Terry and I finally managing to get into some kind of a routine that allows us both to get a reasonable amount of sleep, and even to leave the house occasionally. We’re still mostly just fire-fighting, obviously, but we’re slowly starting to emerge from the fog of the newborn days, and, I mean, who really cares that I just had to microwave my coffee for the third time this morning? Exactly.
So, our “routine” at the moment is a tag-teaming kind of arrangement: basically I go to bed early, and then get up early with Max (And by “early” I mean “anything from 04:30am on…”); Terry, meanwhile, stays up late to do the final night feed, and then sleeps late in the morning, while I’m up writing blog posts and mainlining caffeine, in between feeding and entertaining our small overlord. It’s not ideal, obviously, but it works for now, and it means that we’re both feeling a little more in control than we were a few weeks ago, when it wasn’t remotely unusual for Terry to walk into the nursery and find me sobbing into a soiled sleepsuit, while saying, “But I JUUUUUST put it on hiiiimmmmm!”
(There are still quite a few tears, though, not gonna lie. And not all of them are Max’s, either…)
We’ve also been managing to get out of the house a bit more this week, too. Like many babies, Max instantly falls asleep in the car, and is kept asleep by the white noise of coffee shops and the like, so we’ve been finding it easier to go out to meet people, rather than having them come to the house, and risk arriving in the middle of a meltdown. (And, again, I’m not necessarily referring to the baby here, either…)
(This morning I actually got Alexa to play him “coffee shop” white noise sounds, but he seems to be the only baby in the world who doesn’t give a crap about white noise recordings, so I guess we’ll just have to stick to ACTUAL coffee shops, then…)
So, this week we’ve been out to lunch twice, have gone shopping once (albeit very briefly), and even risked taking him out to a restaurant, for dinner with Terry’s family. (Who were here for his mum’s funeral, at the weekend. I’m not going to say too much about that, other than that it was absolutely heartbreaking, as you would imagine, but it was also heart-warming to see the massive turnout of friends and family, all there to pay their respects. I cried all day, and found the finality of it all incredibly hard to deal with, but we took a lot of comfort in the presence of our friends and family, and I know Terry’s mum would have been so proud of her amazing family. I, meanwhile, am just glad to know that Max will grow up as part of such a close family, although I can’t help wishing his lovely nana could have been part of it too, for even just a little longer. )
So far, Max has slept through all of these events, which makes it a whole lot easier to get out of the house with him: I know that won’t last forever (“JUST YOU WAIT!”) but for now it’s really helping to be able to do some “normal” things like going out for lunch, or even just coffee. I’ve been self-employed for over a decade now, so I’m very used to being at home all day, and don’t normally mind it, but I’ve had a serious case of cabin fever lately, which hasn’t been helped by the constant snow we’ve been having – spring really can’t come soon enough for me, seriously.
(Surviving the newborn stage, one Jellycat plushie at a time…)
(Oh, and my parents also babysat Max on their own for the first time this week, which let Terry and I get out for a couple of hours. And, OK, we just went to the hospital for my final counselling appointment, but even so, we left the house without having to take approximately 17 spare nappies with us, so at least that’s something, huh?)
As for Max himself, meanwhile, he was 7 weeks old on Friday, and is becoming much more alert and aware of himself/his surroundings, which is fun to see. He’s absolutely FASCINATED by the clock on the living room wall (Seriously, if he’s crying or fussing, all we have to do is take him over to it, and he immediately stops crying, and just stares at it, all google-eyed, like, WTF EVEN IS THAT?), and by the black and white prints above his changing mat in the nursery. This has been a big help to us, because it means that, rather than freaking out and wanting to fight to the death every time we dare to remove his clothes, he now just lies there quite happily, watching Batman and Geoffrey the Giraffe. And, OK, he does still try to pee in my face every time I change his nappy, but at least he’s not crying when he does it now, you know?
The main change this week, though, is that we’ve started to get a few little smiles and giggles out of him. I’m sure some are still reflex smiles, but some definitely seem to be in response to us (Or, more often, to the mobile above his cot. Because, sure, it’s nice to have two parents who adore you, but it’s even better to have three brightly coloured pieces of fabric revolving around your head to the sound of Brahms Lullaby, amiright, Max?), which is just heart-meltingly cute, and makes me want to punch the air and shout, “IT WAS ALL WORTH IT! Also, someone call the Guinness Book of Records and tell them we’ve got the cutest baby in the world over here! Then alert the news stations!”
(“Finally, in other news, a baby in Central Scotland smiled today, leading his proud mother to comment that it was, ‘Worth every second of being sliced open with a sharp knife!’ We’ll have more on this story at the top of the hour…”)
(And, I mean, it’s the SAME THREE pieces of fabric, over and over again. NEVER GETS OLD, though. I guess every time is like the first time when you’re 6 weeks old, huh?)
In less fun news, meanwhile, he’s still having a bit of reflux, which has been pretty challenging, to say the least. We think we’ve exhausted all of the non-prescription options so far, and the solutions that stop the reflux just make him constipated, which is obviously horrible for him, poor little soul. We have a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning, though (It should be his 6-week check, but he’s having his at 7 weeks, because that was the soonest they could see us, apparently), so hopefully he’ll be able to give us something to help. If nothing else, my laundry basket would be very grateful, because the constant spitting-up means we’re going through clothes (both ours and his) and burp cloths almost faster than I can clean them.
Speaking of baby clothes, Max has now grown enough that I’ve already had to get rid of some of the little newborn-sized sleepsuits he wore for the first few weeks, and it pretty much broke me, seriously. In fact, I actually put a couple of them aside, for his baby box, because even although they’d all been through the wash so many times they were totally worn out, as well as being too small (See: REFLUX, GOD.), they were still the clothes my precious boy wore when we brought him home, and the fact that he’s ALREADY outgrown them makes me worry that I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and discover he’s, like, 33 or something.
It goes so fast. Seriously, everyone tells you that, but it really does go SO. FAST. Which is one of the things I keep telling myself on the not-so-good days: it would be so easy to wish this time away, because it’s harder than I would ever have believed possible, but one day I really AM going to wake up and realise my little baby is a grown man, and those tiny sleepsuits he used to wear will seem even more comically – and heartbreakingly – small than they do right now. So I’m trying my best not to wish it away: some days I manage that better than others, but every day I at least TRY, and that’s probably the most I can hope for right now.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a mug of coffee to microwave…