Monday, 9 March 2015

So you want to learn a new language, why not have a baby?

Yesterday I found myself driving the North Shore motorways of Auckland, not an unusual activity really. In the backseat (in her big girl chair!) I had my baby and there was one purpose to this drive - her need to sleep. Once again, this is not too unusual, plenty of parents resort to destinationless (yes I think I made up a word) trips all in the aid of baby sleep. The unusual thing, however, was that I was actually 'at a baby shower' at the time. I had been at the baby shower, my little one needed a sleep and so to remain at the baby shower, I first needed to leave, drive around until she'd had a nap, and then return to the baby shower. So this is exactly what I did and thankfully it was successful. (For those who are wondering why I didn't just put her down there, well yes I could have attempted this but to be honest, the drive was the less painful option for us all, except the wallet of course but there is no price on sleep!)

On another topic, this morning, while perusing Facebook, I saw some wedding photos. I love wedding photos! Whether I know the people in them or not is generally irrelevant but on this occasion, I did actually know these people so it was even better. The photo I loved most was one in which the groom gazed adoringly at his new wife, completely love struck. It made me smile. It made me think back to our own wedding, to the excited young couple we were, starting out on this new journey of marriage. I'm pretty sure we have a similar photo. How long ago it all seems now, even though it was just under 4 years ago. This weekend I actually came across a photo of hubby and I taken just before our wedding and showed it to him. "We look so young," was his comment, and we did.

How we have changed! How life has changed!

Gone are the days when attending any event was only a matter of remembering the date and time; when meeting up with friends for a coffee was a relaxing activity; when going to the beach meant being able to lie for hours reading, swimming and sleeping; when leaving the house only required a handbag; when a good night's sleep was a realistic possibility; when clothes shopping could include hours of trying on different clothes in search of the best deal.

Yip, gone are those days...and I didn't even say goodbye! How I took them for granted...

Now our attendance at any event is arranged around nap times; a coffee date leaves me exhausted as bubs is not of the opinion that hanging out with adults in a cafe is a fun activity; a trip to the beach includes a quick swim and then home again (or if we dare go for longer, includes me pushing the pram up and down the beach to get bubs to sleep); leaving the house for any length of time requires a huge amount of baby stuff; more than 4 hours sleep in a row is amazing; clothes shopping is a rare occurrence that might, if I'm lucky, include trying on clothes but only until the baby playing on the floor begins to whimper and that quickly signals the end of the trip, regardless of how many clothes remain untouched.

Conversations have changed too, particularly with people who don't have children. I find it difficult these days when people ask me what I have been up to since I last saw them. Before bubs I would have something to say about work, outings or things hubby and I had been up to. Now...well my days are taken up with feeding, nappy changes, baby entertaining, baby naps, coffee group or attending some sort of baby event. If a fellow mother asks me what I've been up to, I might tell her. If it's anyone else, well I am pretty certain that they are not interested in the mundane details, even though these are what now make up my life, so I simply find myself responding, "not much."

Another question I now struggle with, similar to the last but not quite the same, is 'how are things going?'

If I were to answer honestly about the past week, it might sound something like this: Well my week has been tough. My daughter disappeared. Not physically thank goodness, but the happy, chilled out baby that I take for granted was replaced by a tired, grizzly, moody, clingy, unpredictable baby and it left me exhausted. Suddenly I went from having to get up once a night to feed to now getting up once a night and then somewhere between 5-5.30am again. I've been tired and she's been tired. We barely made it through swimming lessons which she normally absolutely loves. To be honest, we didn't make it through, we got out of the pool early because she started losing it. I even called Health Line and took her to the doctor on Friday because I was so concerned. I imagined the worst, especially when she started touching her head (did she have internal bleeding???). Of course it turned out to be nothing, well nothing physically wrong with her anyway. I'm pretty sure it's all due to developmental things. On a positive note, she furthered her rolling ability and can now roll both ways (although this now poses challenges for sleep!) and I have discovered she loves carrots.

Once again, unless talking to another parent, this is a question where I doubt people really want to know the real answer so I simply respond that things are fine. That's okay. I don't hold it again anyone without children. After all I was there not too long ago. Things change, that's all.

While some conversations have become difficult, others have become easy. I have basically learnt a whole new language...the language of babies. I am so grateful for all the parents around me, especially my coffee group. As a mum, you need to talk about baby stuff, well I do anyway. I need to know if what my baby is doing is 'normal'. I need to talk about how she is sleeping, or not sleeping at night. I need to find out what food people are feeding their babies. I need to know that despite being told that my baby should be sleeping through by 6 months, in fact, most of the babies in my coffee group are also not sleeping through. As someone said the other day, it makes such a difference when you know that you're not the only one. Just as teachers talk school when they get together, parents talk babies. Of course this doesn't mean it is the only topic of conversation, and the best times I have are when I escape baby talk for a while, but baby talk is an an important part of this new life.

The thing is, yes I have changed and yes life has changed...a lot...and it continues to change everyday as my baby changes and I find myself trying to keep up with all her changes. Yet despite all this change, I am still the person I was before I had a baby. Well I'm the same, but different.  Now I'm responsible for someone else, a little human being, and that means that everything else gets reprioritized.

It doesn't mean that my friend's aren't important.
It doesn't mean that all I want to talk about is babies.
It doesn't mean that I have lost a whole chunk of my personality.

It just means I am still me, but part of me is a currently buried under the rubble that comes with learning this whole parental gig thing.
It means I still want to catch up for coffee but I will have to work it around nap times and cafes that have space for a pram because my little girl will not be held for long.
It means that I still want to catch up with friends but I can't do dinner...not until she's weaned off breastfeeding.
It means that when you ask me how I am, I probably won't go into details unless you are a mother, simply to spare you details that you won't find particularly interesting or be able to relate to.

Like I said, I'm still me, but different. I'm so grateful to my friends without children who have made the effort to keep in contact during the past few months because honestly, if they hadn't made that effort, I'm unlikely to have seen them, not because I didn't want, just because it's how life is at the moment.

So yes life has changed. Not that I resent the changes. I might not completely welcome them with open arms but really, when I stop and think about it all, the sacrifices are worth it and I'm incredibly grateful that I have a happy, healthy baby (or hopefully will once these developmental changes have passed). Life will continue to change, I will continue to change, my baby will continue to change.

That's a whole lot of change!

Sometimes it's good to just stop and appreciate the changes...

What about you, what big changes have you had in the past year or so? Or any big changes you're looking forward to in the next year?

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