No Mommy Power Here

After coming over all “mommy power” last time round, today is one of those days I really need people to not gloat over because there is no mommy power here.

I feel sick to my stomach from lack of sleep as my beautiful baby has cut her first two teeth – shouldn’t she sleep better after they cut?!

I swear she has been more miserable and unhappy since the second one came through yesterday. And she woke up at 5:15am today – which is a million percent unmanageable after all night whimpering and feeding and snuggling – and did I mention – I HATE SUMMER. Ironically, as I sit here in a puddle of sweat with my 10.5kg baby asleep on me hating every second of the heat I got a Timehop notification that this time last year I posted this.

Put her down once she’s asleep? Really? You think I haven’t tried that? When I got her down at 7:45 I waited 20 minutes until she was heavily asleep and gently transferred her to her cot (as I do throughout the night with not a second of issue) and her eyes popped open like one of those creepy baby dolls. As I wept in exhausted frustration, I tried to get her back down in every possible way until at 9:10 she finally fell asleep on the boob. My mom arrived shortly after that and so we decided I would gently transfer her to my mom’s arms and she could sleep there so I could close my eyes for an hour or so, which might let me get some semblance of work done. Guess what? Yep, creepy baby doll eye popping, this time accompanied by frustrated wailing and an agony of guilt for me for being so selfish and not just letting her sleep in my arms.

Since she was awake, my mom took her to play in her room and for a walk round the complex so I could once again try to sleep. 20 minutes and then I woke up from the crazy nausea of sleep deprivation – seriously. More ugly crying as I lay swamped by a hangover I never had the satisfaction of inducing, a headache, aching eyes, guilt over Charly not getting enough sleep and stress of work that needs doing ASAP.

And all of this beneath a now constantly hovering desperation to do something for me. I wrote a whole blog post of eloquently researched disagreement over a post and article published by a talented blogger last week on why we shouldn’t put our children above all else. I disagree with that, and I might publish my reasoning at some point, BUT I do think we should find a way to create lives for ourselves alongside our children. Because, although I disagree with the conclusion, the torrent of nostalgia and longing for “me” time has not left me for a second since I read that post.

Did you know, pre-Charly Mandy was a person who had quite a busy, exciting, spoilt life on many levels? She was a sought-after, recently head-hunted B2B PR person, who loved her job and the media and her clients and her colleagues; she loved working in stylish offices in Searle Street, and she loved getting her cappuccino from Vida every day.

She wore an array of stylish clothing on her perfectly nice figure with a variety of beautiful heeled shoes. She had her hair washed, blowdried and straightened every second week, she got treatments once a month and she had highlights. She had her eyebrows and lashes tinted and shaped every 3 weeks; she had manis and pedis once a month and she topped up her “tan” in a sunbed every other week (the sun turns me lobster, so no I don’t care that my light gold colour was dangerously acquired). In the 2 months leading up to her wedding in May 2013, she went for a 2 hour full body massage every Sunday.

She and her fiancé went to dinner once a week at least and lunch every weekend, where they would talk for hours about technology and telecoms and business management (her work and his), their jobs, their cats, their friends, their plans, current affairs, books they wanted to read, movies or series they wanted to see, where they would take their next holiday and occasionally how their lives might look with the addition of a smaller family member. On weekends they often slept until 11 and spent the days lazing around watching shows or movies, playing games, reading books or napping. They loved to shop and buy each other lovely little gifts from sweets to fluffy toys to items of clothing. They went on a big holiday every 2 years, Plett, Sun City, Vic Falls, even almost Egypt before they went to war; and they took long weekends away at least twice a year.

She did weekly dinners or lunches with friends, spent special time with her family, especially her sister and her niece, and had big birthday parties that were extra special “me” days. She read a book every 3 days, bought endlessly from lovely quiet musty second hand bookstores where she could spend hours at a time.

 

 

 

New York City

 

Victoria Falls, Zambia

 

Plettenberg Bay

 

I feel like that girl died, or at the very least is locked in a very deep basement with some very heavy duty furniture piled on top of the trapdoor.

Of COURSE I want some of that back! I miss my husband; I miss our spontaneous dinner dates and planning elaborate holidays and surprising him with a weekend lounging around on deck chairs watching whales in the sun in silence. I miss my 3 hour hair appointments and couples massages and idling away an entire day lying in a sun puddle with a book, occasionally dozing off. I miss having pretty nails and a body I could get into floaty beautiful clothing. I miss shopping! Browsing around and spending hours trying on clothes and shoes. I miss talking to my friends endlessly about nothing and everything.

I was never planning on being this mommy. This mommy who can’t be away from her child for more than 2 hours without panicking that she might starve. This mommy who is never ever away from her child for more than 10 minutes when she sleeps. This mommy who has no nails (for the first time in my life). This mommy who’s hair gets washed in the bath once a week and then only every other week gets to brush the dreadlocks out that form when your hair stays in a mommy bun 24/7. This mommy who feels guilt over needing to sleep so bad that I put my child in her cot in daylight.

I have made an effort from the day she was born to take her out, to have TVs on loud in the house, to continue conversations while she slept, to have people over often, and somehow I’ve still ended up with a baby who won’t sleep anywhere but in my room in my arms. I put up with endless screaming when she was tiny ensuring she didn’t feed to sleep, and yet now she does 90% of the time. I suffered through excruciating pain to keep breastfeeding til 6 months and now 1 year, and there are some days now I would sell my soul to have introduced a bottle to her so that I could have just a few hours out of the house without worrying that she might need a feed when I’m not there.

I know that these are superficial things. I know without hesitation that I wouldn’t trade the time with my daughter for any of them. But some days are SO hard. And something as silly and frivolous as having my hair done might make dealing with another week of no sleep and constantly being covered in vomit and other bodily fluids and trying to meet deadlines more do-able. A massage to ease the constant pain and aching in my body from too little sleep over too many months and carrying my baby and feeding my baby and the constant mommy guilt that causes every muscle in me to tense up a hundred times a day. I guess I could do a “half” massage; the hair will have to wait a lot longer since it is to my waist and takes well over 2 hours to tame.

I don’t miss that Mandy, and I love being a mommy, even that kind of mommy. And I know that when Charly is a little bit bigger, when naps are further apart or she is sleeping longer at night, when she doesn’t need my body to feed her every 3 hours, I’ll get some of it back. And when she’s a little bigger than that I will take her with me to wander through old musty bookstores and to have our hair and nails done and the shopping!! And in a heartbeat after that I will be heartbroken because she wants to do ALL of these things, but not with me. Which is why, even on days like today when I ache for just a tiny little spoil just for me, I will shake it off and be the best mommy I can be.

I am working on the little things until the bigger things become possible. On Thursday I will sneak away while she plays with granny, to meet my husband for a quick lunch at an overcrowded shopping centre close to his office. Next week I will take a book and go sit and read at a coffeeshop for an hour and a half, no blogging or Tweeting or Facebooking, “just me” time. Maybe the week after, I will try that massage.

FINALLY, the heat of the day is beginning to ease a little and the air is moving again. I am most definitely a Winter girl. As the air cools I can feel some of the heavier emotions begin to drift a little too.

 

Comments

  1. Nic says

    Mandy I’m so glad you wrote this post, I’m feeling exactly the same way and find it hard to talk to people about it because I’m scared they’d think I’m ungrateful our a moan. Being a mum is HARD in so many ways and the giving up the old you part is the hardest, I know people say we’ll get it back and I’m know we will. But right now that seems like forever away. I love being a mum and i adorable my little guy more than words can say and I wouldn’t change a thing, but it certainly hasn’t been easy. Thinking of you my comrade in sleepless nights and messy nappies etc etc. x x

    • says

      Sending love my friend. Some days are just impossibly hard and not having an identity of your own at the moment really doesn’t help. It drives me mad that anybody would think that just because it’s hard you’d wish away your kid; anything worth having is worth fighting for. We will survive this and so much more over the coming years, and although I don’t think we’ll ever get totally back to who we were, we will become better and stronger versions of ourselves – who do have time to do some things just for us. I must tell you my friend, you are one of those mommies who online make mommyhood look effortless. Thinking of you and sending strength xxx

  2. says

    I wish more of us would be honest about the hard days. It is easy to paint our lives as “sunshine and roses” all the time but give me someone who says everyday is perfect and I will give you a liar. While our babies are little we do lose ourselves for that time (especially with your first child). I remember crying desperately as my mom took Kade out for a few hours that she was punishing me for wanting sleep more than him (this after 7 years of infertility and FINALLY becoming a mom and I was SO UNGRATEFUL and only wanted some sleep!!)

    Sleep deprivation is HARSH.

    I love that you are starting small. Maybe pump some milk before you go out and have it on standby for your mom to give Charly on the small chance she niggles for it….

    You WILL find yourself (or a new self) soon.

    xxx

  3. says

    You are not alone friend. I don’t know when last I’ve been out at night. But it will get better. And you’re right, soon you’ll be able to do all those fun things together, even when she’s a teen! I still spend shopping and spa days with my mom.

    • admin says

      Thanks Z. My mom and I did that stuff too until miss muffet arrived and I’m sure we will again. Maybe one day it will be all 3 of us :) x

  4. says

    I have a friend going through this exact same thing. She is busy with sleep training because she was really not coping at all and she has another child so that made it a little worse for her.

    You know we had issues with Emma, last night wasn’t particularly fun, but we had to change the way things were. I have 3 other kids, I work from home and more importantly my relationship with her was affected so we had to make the change.

    It does get easier. Take the moments where you can! Those will save your life!

    • admin says

      Hi Lau
      I saw your tweets about your poor friend and that has remained the caveat under which CIO might become a thing I’d probably consider – and that is having a second child. Which I must admit is something I feel is both a definite and an impossibility depending on the time of day. You mommy’s with multiple kiddies are true super heroes in my book and if you need to save the world with one baby tied to the top of a car roof I would totally consider that heroic too.
      Thanks as always for the feedback xxx

  5. says

    Sending hugs. I know the feeling. At least my sleep deprivation is slowly getting better now, we went through a bad patch when I moved him to his room, now he is in his room mostly with me. I never had all those treatments you speak of, and I’ve wanted a child for the longest time so I don’t “miss” the freedom, I miss having time to myself but it is definitely getting a lot better. So have hope – as they get older you do get more time to yourself.

    • admin says

      Thanks so much hun. ALWAYS helps to know there is just that little bit of wriggle room for some down time at some point. On the bad days it just feels like it might never come. xx

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