I was incredibly naive about babies. I figured they ate and slept and pooped a lot. That was all there was to it. I was going to spend my maternity leave finishing off War and Peace and then embark on the brothers Romanov. While pregnant, I happily made my delusional plans while studying the Contented Little Baby Book by Miss Gina Ford.
It assured me that within a few days, my baby would be eating eight times a day and sleeping through the night. Two weeks into motherhood, after I had been breastfeeding for what felt like the 5th hour straight, I was forced to confront the fact that my idealized image of Motherhood was fatally flawed. Ten months later, I still feel thoroughly deceived. The victim of the great motherhood conspiracy propagated by women everywhere and here is why:
Eating: As per Miss Ford’s standard operating procedure a baby should eat and by eating I mean breastfeed, wait 3 hours then politely indicate that he would appreciate another feed. Spoiler alert. My baby still does not feed every three hours even at 10 months – more like every three minutes. Imagine my shock and consternation at week 3 when I had just fed my baby for what felt like 4 hours straight only to put him down and he directly cried for a feed. So you know I fed him…for another hour.
I have since discovered in the real world babies are attached to mummy’s nipples almost permanently for the first 6 months. Three if you have a well adjusted kid (#youaresoblessed). Nutrition is not the only reason for the booby love. Comfort, self-soothing, fighting off infections are all valid reasons for mealtime in baby world.
So yeah, rather than delve into classical Russian literature I was soon performing all bodily functions with a baby attached to my nipple. And by all I do mean ALL …except the shower thing. Both the baby and I mutually agreed showering was a superfluous part of our daily regimen especially when it interfered with more important activities. See breastfeeding above. Priorities people!
Sleeping: Whoever invented the phrase sleeping like a baby should be drawn and quartered for deliberately and maliciously misleading the entire human race because news flash – babies do not sleep for durations longer than 20 minutes without human body pillows aka mummy’s boobs to prop them. So again, whereas I thought naptime would be an opportunity to meditate on the agricultural land tenure structure of pre-Soviet Russia as I baked something off Pinterest, I found that my baby had decided my arms would be better employed in rocking him to sleep.
Well, you may think that even though my arms were engaged with my bundle of needs at least I had the headspace for higher thoughts. Trumped again. My baby was such a light sleeper that if I even breathed on him wrong or altered the cadence of The Rock he would wake up, unhappy. Mommas everywhere know an ‘unhappy baby’ is a euphemism for purple faced cry-until-I-puke bawling.
So now, “naptime” was spent rocking dear child to sleep while willing the neighbours’ barking dog dead and contemplating strangling anyone who dared ring the doorbell. Yes. Fun times. Night sleep though, was so much better. Ha! It just did not happen at all.*
Pooping: I am happy to report this is the only part of motherhood that met my expectations. The baby did poop incessantly. I am sufficiently bitter about my experiences that I will be hunting down every copy of Miss Gina Ford’s books and hoarding them for a Guinness worthy book burning. This will be step one of my new career …educating non-mothers on motherhood minus the rose-colored blinkers. Stay tuned for my sporadic dispensations from the honest mommy diaries.
*see this post for the various stages of sleep deprivation