Becoming a mum didn’t feel real to me until the first time I was left alone with my baby. For me this was in a hospital, in a ward with a handful of other mums and babies.
These other babies seemed to have established a rota to ensure there was no time during the night that at least one baby wasn’t crying. I sat staring at my bundle of joy for the longest time and felt the most overwhelming feelings of love for her. I also felt completely out of my depth!
The first week, once you’re out of hospital, everything takes place in that strange half world between sleeping and waking. You’re not going to feel fully awake at all during the first week. “Sleep when your baby sleeps”, everyone says but how can you sleep when there’s a gorgeous new baby there? Personally when she slept I just spent the time either looking at her or trying to make the house look vaguely less like a bombsite. When I did sleep, it was inevitable that the moment I chose to sleep was precisely the moment when the midwife or health visitor (you will receive a plethora of guests during that first week!) decided to turn up to weigh the baby or make their routine checks.
I managed to get a little sleep in week two, but only enough to stave off the hallucinations which had set in following the lack of sleep in week one. I still saw a zombie looking out of the mirror at me every morning, but I didn’t care; I was feeding and taking care of my baby and that was all that mattered.
By week three my husband was back at work and the visits had tailed off, so I wasn’t so bothered about the house looking presentable and I was able to get into a routine. Taking my baby out each day was a wonderful way to spend the time, and ensured I had a reason to get dressed in the mornings. My baby was gaining weight by this time, so the initial challenges and worries of “am I breastfeeding correctly?” were beginning to fade as well, and I think this helped my confidence greatly.
By four weeks old my baby had got into a much better pattern and was still feeding well. I am breastfeeding on demand so my life revolves around her. It’s hard to commit to meet friends at particular times because you never know if you’ll really be ready when you think you will, and so I found you either have to arrive for something stupidly early or risk being delayed.
Overall I’d say my first four weeks as a mum were a massive learning curve; I found out a lot about my baby, and a lot about myself, and I must say, despite the challenges and the lack of sleep, I’m loving being a mum!