Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The unbearable richness of being

Never ever let your baby hear you say that things are going well. They will make you pay for it. Wow did that last post come back to bite me.

I don't know what the hell happened....a cold, a new developmental stage, an interrupted routine because we went away, divine retribution for my sounding perilously close to blasé about everything....whatever it was, it broke the baby.

At one point a couple of weeks ago I was facing a nightly torture session of 20-minute sleep intervals with a little girl who needed her cheek in constant contact with my cheek on penalty of ear splitting shrieks. Sleep deprivation of this extreme is just awful. I was awash with mouth ulcers, cold sores and head aches. I was an emotional wreck, finding it impossible to look forward to anything, feeling my face too physically heavy to be able to muster any smiles for my three year old. I was falling apart. And it helped not at all that running through all the exhaustion and frustration was a continuous thread of anxiety about getting my course preparation done for next term that was keeping me awake even when Fiamma wasn't. Exhaustion I can cope with. Stress I can get through. But the two together are a killer.

Things are looking a little brighter again this week. I think (whisper it) I've persuaded Fia that I'm not her personal dummy and we've had two nights in a row of only waking once. The recovery of my mental health is so immediate its astonishing. It wakes me wonder how many cases of postnatal depression would be solved with a bit of sleep (assuming anyone knew how to procure it!)

We've managed to rid our plate of a couple of stressful tasks - finding a new house and new preschool in Leeds. And I've got a few mornings of childcare for my girl so I can write some lectures. I'm still finding everything I read goes in one ear and out the other. and I'm still worried that this new job is a bit of a car crash waiting to happen........why oh why didn't i choose a career that didn't require me to be able to think?!

People always tell new parents that it gets easier as time goes on. It's a bare-faced lie, and I know it this time around. Babies don't get easier. The  first three months can be easy ish if you're lucky. It starts with gentle bleating and constant naps. Then sleep regressions happen. Then teething happens. Then anxiety separation happens. It's all downhill until they're about two. And then tantrums happen. I haven't found out what fresh terrors await the parent of a four year old, yet.

Yet, and yet.....it doesn't take much to remind myself of other times when my 'problems' have consisted in a lack of things in my life, rather than this current overabundance. I guess i tend to ricochet between worrying about i haven't got and worrying about what i have got....how stupid. But I know which one i'd rather worry about.

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