Second Place

19122013

aand e copy*my two  boys in A&E, taken on my terrible camera phone

Over the last 24 hours I feel like we have been crawling out of a sinkhole.  In the first moment of quietness after what seems like days and days of noise and mess, I finally have got a moment to sit down and collect my thoughts about the last few days. Its been a really challenging few days weeks here in our little house. I don’t want this to be a long list of woes but the cliff notes appear to read redundancy, broncilitis, A&E, burst ear drum. Its funny how just when you think you are starting to get to grips with motherhood, something happens which takes you right back to the beginning- in our case, one very poorly baby and too utterly exhausted parents.

This all started last Saturday when we took the very rare decision to go out to a friend’s holiday party. We had discussed the practicalities of this in real detail, weighed up the pros and cons of dragging the baby to this party and disrupting his normal routine. We have never been ones to be totally governed by a fixed routine and having not seen the majority of our friends for nearly a year, we decided it was probably worth the risk. So we went, we tried and we failed. Forrest ended up in what we now know was the early stages of bronchitis. It was noisy, hot and disorientating for us and certainly for him. We arrived early and all our friends arrived late, just at the point when I was stressed out of my mind with a very irritable child.
We are in a somewhat unique position where none of our friends have children. Forrest is very much the first of our group and that perhaps is what made it all so difficult. I have been to countless parties like this before but never as a mother. I felt like I spent the whole evening desperately and pointlessly trying to clutch at the person I used to be whilst deep down knowing that things were different and perhaps these events are now beyond me. I am not sad about this in the slightest. I’ve never been much of a partier or drinker but I hold my friendships very dear and value conversation above most things. I suppose that is a reflection of spending my days with a baby! So there I was, trying to catch up with people, trying to enjoy myself, trying to be the same friend I would have been a year ago and it was horrible. I hated every minute of it. You have these images of going to these holiday parties (thanks internet) where you are just going to be yourself, but a bit more sparkly, with a well behaved baby balanced neatly on your hip. It doesn’t exist and that weekend not only taught me that now obvious fact but the more real truth that  I have changed. I cannot be my old self that just comes with a baby. Nor am I a completely different person. I am a newer version of myself. My responsibilities are radically different and I now know how very very different my life is from my friends. I wasn’t upset about leaving the party in the slightest or that it hadn’t worked out. I am glad we tried, even if it was to learn that Forrest (and possibly we) were not ready. I was just sad that for a moment, we had perhaps put our own needs above his. I was very sad and sorry about that.
Over the next week, Forrest got very poorly. Then we got poorly too. I make no secret of the fact that our baby is a terrible sleeper, but over the last week he has woken up virtually every hour, sick, cross, confused and desperate to feed despite not being able to breathe through his nose. I have been vomited on more times this week than in my entire lifetime and our mattress has certainly seen better days. Trying to feed your baby when you are sick yourself is one of most challenging experiences I have had in raising Forrest. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself but of course his needs are so much bigger and greater than mine. Putting Forrest first on a daily basis normally involves how I spend my time and how our day is shaped. This was the first time I had to put his physical well being above my own; battling with my own body in order to be present and nurturing for his. It was tough but the reality check I needed after Saturday’s meltdown. I felt that in feeding him, holding him while he slept and slowly nursing him back to help that I was somehow making it up to him. It made me feel better about myself in any case.
He did eventually get better and I am slowly getting my strength back. Then he decided to catapult himself off our bed and whack his head on the way down. So the week of doom ended with a cab ride to A&E and four glorious hours of observation, during which he mainly wanted to crawl around and eat the equipment. He is absolutely fine. Maybe it was the last straw but it sort of pulled us out of our slump. Seeing your baby ill is awful, but seeing them in hospital is quite simply something else.
I feel like the last few days (and weeks) have taught me a lot about myself and my place in the world. Losing my job and confusing my priorities has made me really question where I belong in the world right now. I think every new mum maybe goes through this but it seems that I was quite happily riding on the coat tales of maternity leave and now I have some decisions to make. For now, I am staying and home and loving my son and I could not be happier that I get these days with him. Motherhood is filling the gap where my job and my friendships once were but I imagine at some point, I will need to reclaim a tiny part of that space back for myself.
Billy and I made an agreement early on that we should never be apologetic for the decisions we make when in comes to Forrest. We know that mistakes will happen (all the time) and then we will often make bad decisions or have poor judgement. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad that my baby was poorly, stressed and sad. It just means I accept that parenting is difficult and a learning experience.
So thats it. A marathon week in the wolf-haus. As a mum, I will always come second (and as a wife, sometimes third) and this week I learnt that I am more than happy with that. Roll on the holidays now please.

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