James is 5 months old and he is the cutest baby on earth.
This is his mum speaking, of course.
In Italy, we have this saying that “every cockroach is beautiful to its mum” but seriously James is special. He is my first child and I am already wondering if I will be as enchanted when I have another.
My pregnancy wasn’t very easy, not in the sense that it was complicated; I was lucky and everything went well. The problem was that I had to spend most of it alone, as my husband was already working in the US (where we live now), while I was in Ireland.
Living alone in Ireland and continuing working until the end was quite stressful. Despite this, what kept me going was the living dream of the moment my husband, James and I could live happily ever after. Once I arrived in the US and finally could hold my baby in my arms, nothing was as I dreamed. I felt insecure and weak.
During prenatal classes, breastfeeding was described as the most natural thing in the world. It is true, in part. The part they don’t tell you is that it can be frustrating for you and your baby. So, there I was, crying at night with my baby trying to latch onto me on one side and my husband snoring on the other.
It took us weeks before everything started to work out but eventually it did. I had to supplement him with formula to integrate because he was not gaining enough weight. I have to say that my boy has a distinctive appetite that he has inherited from his father’s side of the family since, according to my mum, during my own infancy I was pretty fussy, and didn’t take all my milk.
It may happen at times that you realize your baby is not growing and you feel guilty and you feel completely responsible. You’re the mum; it’s up to you to be feeding your baby. All eyes are on you and what you are doing. Are you being a good mum? Can we really answer this question when we are new mothers? Or perhaps the world should give us a break? Anyway, being able to breastfeed your baby is wonderful, but it is also true that the social pressure around this is enormous. Everyone is involuntarily making you feel bad if you don’t breastfeed and I think this is pretty unfair especially towards new and inexperienced mums. It is also true that you feel guilty anyway… It is hard to understand why but that’s the reality.
The first weeks are a whirlwind of feelings; your baby cries you cry, your baby is cranky, you are cranky…To top things off, you have to deal with a storm of hormones. I was feeling blue because of the recent move to the US and because of the absence of my family and friends to comfort me.
Fortunately, this didn’t last long, and within 2 months of James’ birth, my mum came to help me out. Little by little, my baby and I got to know each other. Needless to say, we are now inseparable.
I still look at the mirror and see another person. Before motherhood, I wouldn’t dare make it through a day without putting mascara on; nowadays I really don’t care, as long as James is smiling and having fun. I guess every mum feels like this. Priorities have changed.
Now that I have stopped worrying if James is eating enough, new concerns have sprouted. I am starting to worry if he’s too cold, too hot, too bored, you name it! Mummies never stop worrying. That’s basically what I’ve learned so far. At the same time, a smile or a laugh is enough to change your day; to make you feel at your best. The thought that nobody will love you more than him, that you are so important to someone, who fulfills your life, this must be what they mean when they say “unconditional love”. It is pure joy.
There are also some very funny aspects about motherhood. Like when you watch your man making faces or voices to entertain your baby and you think: who is this guy? Or when you are going into your bedroom with a plastic bottle of water and your husband is looking at you like you are doing the craziest thing ever: The baby is sleeping! The noise will wake him up! Are you really so thirsty?. When the first song you hear in the morning is “Le tagliatelle di Nonna Pina”. When your husband reads a story to your 4-month old son, and then asks him if he has any questions. When you are a super multitasking mum: tapping away on the laptop while pushing the swing with one foot and singing. When you have been arguing for 3 months with a customer service agent for a refund and then realize that they gave it back in first place but you’ve been checking the wrong bank account. When you phone a call center and furiously demand the email they promised to send, then feel stupid because you gave them a totally made up one on the last call!
Ok, so those last two examples are of course due to sleep deprivation… but are we, new moms, really sleeping?
A couple of days ago I was watching this video about the fact that new moms are not deep asleep even when they think they are sleeping. They were basically saying that we are in a constant hyper tension state so our sleep is similar to that of soldiers at war. I totally feel this is happening to me. Sometimes I think I only sleep with one eye closed, the other scanning the crib surface… “Where the hell did the pacifier go?”
The conclusion that I can offer my darling new “mammine” is that we can all agree that it is tough but it is also more than worth it. When you feel blue, when you feel worthless, remember that your baby doesn’t see that. He/she only smells your skin, hears your heartbeat and feels your love. You are doing great. Nobody knows your baby better than you.
Lift up your head, stand tall and be proud… your baby is the cutest little being on earth!