When her eyes opened, I feared for my life
The first 6 months of motherhood. It’s no secret amongst my family, friends, and anyone following on my social media, that my daughter has severe FOMO, hitting her milestones like an over-achiever, and curious as hell. While I playfully boomeranged her frowning face or used the big mouth filter on snapchat to compliment her piercing scream, there was more to it than just your daily dose of birth control.
To find the right words to convey my experience of the first 6 months of motherhood is something many likely share but never speak of. The truth is, each milestone is met with a series of transitions that I felt I was completely unprepared for. There were moments when I questioned why I became a mom at all, times when the cries affected no one more than me, weeks of constantly checking if she was breathing, then wondering if I was doing enough or doing it right at all.
The Forth Trimester Struggle is Read
Motherhood had heightened every possible insecurity. Those first few months I compared every baby to my own wondering if other moms faced the same struggles I had. Why wasn’t my baby sleeping? Should she be feeding throughout the night? How do I get her to not scream in the car? Can I have coffee? Is it the coffee? When did I become such an active feminist?
When my daughter didn’t fit the mold of a ‘typical’ newborn my wing it approach to motherhood was quickly met with self doubt and hate. I read very few books during pregnancy. The fact is, I was clueless and no amount of research could have prepared for me what I was about to embark on. When I birthed this 2.5 kilo little person I was a fish out of water feeling completely out of depth in my new reality. Not only was I suffering from serious baby blues but my whole life had been thrown upside down.
Real-life motherhood VS instagram
My own struggles with postpartum only intensified Kirras already demanding behaviour. My daughter came abruptly into the world screaming and didn’t stop until her eyes shut and even that was a rarity. It seemed even the most basic tasks such as taking a walk in the pram, driving in the car, plopping her down on the boppy, or even baby wearing was met with tears and shrieks. I no longer looked forward to the moment her eyes would flicker open and instead carefully calculated the exact time her awake window would end. Even so, each nap became a battle in itself lasting no longer than 20 minutes. Basically, I was one Adele song away from a meltdown.
Learn to Filter
The thing is you don’t gradually transition into motherhood, it’s sudden, and after months of sleepless nights and constant screaming I reached out for help. A midwife came for weekly home visits, child heath services checked growth and development, I completed a half day stay at the parenting support centre, and met with a lactation consultant, an occupational therapist and multiple paediatricians. The diagnosis’ that came flooding in were even more conflicting than I imagined. From tongue tied, starvation, hyper-active baby, overstimulation, a dairy allergy, purple crying, silent reflux, and at one point I was told “it was her personality.” I subsequently learned Kirra was going through a standard process of elimination practitioners commonly use as if my daughter were a textbook case study.
It really does take a village
The conflicting professional opinions I sought only worsened matters and soon became nothing but noise. I began to rely heavily on the village of support surrounding me and quickly learned Kirra’s inability to self-settle and dairy intolerance was more common than I thought. By adapting a new routine, eat-awake-sleep-you time (E.A.S.Y) there was no longer a dependance on feeding to transition between sleep cycles. While digging deep into the pits of instagram I then found Cara, a self proclaimed sleep expert. Through the help of Cara’s C.R.I.E.S method, naps and night time sleep improved significantly. There were still sleep regressions but even the smallest taste of a victory was enough.
The Good News Is, It Does Get Better
Month five and six was a lesson in growth, embracing change, and perspective — essentially a total game changer. No longer needing to be swaddled we transitioned Kirra out of the bassinet and into her own room. Her ultrasonic hearing no longer picked up the littlest of sound. Before I knew it, Kirra was barrel rolling, sitting up, crawling, and babbling away. I went from having an unhappy stationary baby to a very happy on-the-move baby. All of a sudden I had the luxuries my pre-baby self took for granted — food, clean clothes, and bathroom breaks. It may not have gotten easier, but it was getting better.
Im not going to lie, the first six months of motherhood is hard. I was winging it on my first day and here I am today, still winging it. Telling other parents how easy your baby is does no good for the ones that struggle. On the other hand, if you have a tough baby, talk about it. That is the only way to get the support you need. When you pass each milestone — which you will, you might just find it exhausting, gut-wrenching, exhilarating, and blissful.