Over the last few weeks a number of blog posts have been getting my attention. I've noticed a theme and I wanted to blog about it. It started off with a series of posts from Jasmin of Knitmore Girls fame over at Better than Yarn. Her return to herself has been lovingly documented after her first year as a mother. I nodded along, relieved at the honesty in her words.
I also love this post from Creative Mama. Why? Not because she turned chaos into creativity (although that is cool). It's because she said what I have increasingly started to feel as someone who used to blog and podcast regularly: it's all smoke and mirrors and when you're a mum, it's exhausting to keep that up.
When I found out I was expecting I had A PLAN of how to carry on. It went a bit squiffy when Playful Babe decided to try her best to come early. It was ok, I revised the plan with a NEW PLAN. I then exhausted myself upon her arrival trying to keep up with THE PLAN. I would be the all singing all dancing blogger and podcaster and a wonderful mother, fabulous partner and reliable friend. I had seen it on the interwebs, represented in perfectly shot pictures and beautifully written prose. Everyone else was apparently doing it so why couldn't I?
Around Christmas I stopped coping. I just about existed as it became increasingly clear that all was not well with Playful Baby. She didn't settle, she screamed when nursing, she never (ever, ever) wanted to be anywhere other than my arms. In moments of calm she giggled and explored but there was always a wariness as if something was about to spoil her moment.
In January she began nursing strike. For those who don't know this is when a baby refuses to feed. Not only can this have immediate dire effects for the baby but it also means the body stops producing as much milk as it no longer has the feedback to do so.
My life became a ticking clock: how long can we go on? Can I get her to feed? For how many minutes? And seconds? How long before my body just stops providing the milk she needs?
I knew a bottle wasn't the answer. She clung to me for comfort and in the small hours of morning would wake to nurse beautifully, calmly and returned to sleep with a contented snore. I'd lie with her in my arms, stroking her hair and be thankful that I didn't give up.
We have now confirmed silent reflux, a venomous product of an immature digestive system burning stomach acid back up the throat. We've done everything: positioning, careful nursing, medicines, osteo, massage. I worked hard to keep my milk supply up, myself sane and hoped against hope I wouldn't lose those beautiful calm feeds. Slowly her weight has picked up and she's feeding better about half of the time. The reason I was reluctant to switch her feeds to a bottle were confirmed: the gush of milk was hurting her which was why at night when she suckled sleepily, it hurt less. A bottle would hurt her tummy.
We have a long way to go and reading these two honest bloggers has encouraged me to say that my life is not always playful. I will dance and sing whenever I can but life is damn hard when you have a teeny baby and the seeming perfection being floated around on the inter ether is not helping women like me cut themselves some slack when things are far from perfect.
It's ok to look at tough times as well as perfect photo opportunities. It's ok to admit that while you want desperately to do it all, you can't. It is ok to say life will see me getting me back to the all singing all dancing podcaster.
Just not yet. I'm staying right in this moment with her.