Raising Mabel – Let’s just call it ‘adjusting’

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Labour really hurts. I just thought I’d get that down. A hard copy. Just in case I inevitably forget how horrendous it was and decide I’m hard enough to go through it again at some point. In a word: grueling. That said, finally meeting the tiny person you’ve been growing inside you for the last 9 months, is probably the most incredible experience one can ever hope to have. My husband describes it with a likeness to Russian dolls. I’m not sure that properly conveys the pain involved but I have to admit, she is GREAT.

Since then, life has been a little hazy. It is unbelievable just how much work 7 pounds of flesh can create. To be honest, perhaps we could have made life easier for ourselves. It’s fair to say that on the back of sleep deprivation and in the midst of about 75 billion visitors all looking for a serene, cry-free cuddle, we have probably tried to do far too much, resulting in that familiar feeling of ‘losing the plot’. We’ve decided to tactfully call it ‘adjusting’. Yes, it’s just the ‘adjustment’ that is causing that vacant, glazed stare into the middle distance, the ability to cry at any and every opportunity and the desire to eat pretty much anything that isn’t toxic within a 5 mile radius. Indeed, it is just the ‘adjusting’ that frequently finds me reaching for a glass of anything cold, wet and at least 12% at around 5pm most days. And it is certainly the struggle to ‘adjust’ that has resulted in me rocking my child incessantly in my arms outside many a venue at the Edinburgh Fringe, desperate to prove that my life hasn’t changed that much. Denial. Yes, I very much look forward to when we have ‘adjusted’, though by the frantic looks on the faces of many other mothers I know who have been at this game far longer, my worst fear is that this time may not be nearing.

And the oddest part of it all? There’s no way I’d change it now. Nope. The main problem being that she is just far too cute. I know everyone likes to think their baby is a looker, but I’m pretty sure mine is objectively beautiful. And the amazing generosity of friends, family and a surprising number of people I have never met before in my life (the deluge of cards and presents is such that we shall probably writing thank yous from now until Christmas), is testament to the fact that babies just make people happy. They’re special. And it’s not because they can give you anything back (though I do like to cheer her on for a good burp), in fact for these first weeks, she can’t even raise a smile to say thanks for the fact I’ve have been up all night, cleaned her bottom more times in a 24 hour period than I thought possible and have now taken up occupation as a permanent (leaky) milk machine. No, right now, it’s just love in it’s purest form.

I have many stories like this from the last few weeks. Yesterday, I had been desperate to make it out of the house in the morning to see friends. I’m learning now that what was once just as case of hopping in the car is now a full-scale operation and frustratingly there is no way of ensuring that any single element of that operation goes to plan. After 3 unexpected dirty nappies (including one ‘al fresco’ number) and 2 full-scale baby-grow changes due to inexplicable escapee wee, we finally made it to the front door when she barfed literally the whole way down my new jumper; the jumper I had bought to cheer me up and help me feel pretty and less huge when attending said event. In the end, after fighting back the tears, we turned up on the late side, her in a baby-grow 3 sizes too big and probably better suited to a boy as nothing else was clean, and I looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge and smelling of sour milk. Sheer glamour.

But of course, after all that no one batted an eye-lid – they all coooed and aaahhed, and I felt incredibly proud of my little bundle. She is my greatest achievement. And once they had exhausted their baby chat and had a wee cuddle, we sat and chatted like nothing had changed and I realised again the blessing of great friends and the joy of being known. It’s good to have a few folk you can laugh in the face of adversity with – that’s right, I’m at the point when more than one projectile vomit a day legitimately equates to ‘adversity’. Don’t try and challenge me on that.

Right now, as I fumble through my ‘adjustment’ with unbrushed hair, mascara only on one eye (that genuinely happened last week – a low point) and a streak of yellow poo across my forehead (a badge of respect in some cultures, I’m sure), though it may be a little messy in every sense of the word, I know that me and my new family are venturing into unchartered territory, starting a new chapter of life, a new adventure and it feels like the biggest and best of life so far.