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Thursday 10 November 2016

Becoming mums: Ramblings of the sleep-deprived

Posted in: True Stories
By Jacqui Stanford - 17th November 2015

There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of your newborn baby on your chest. The first time they are placed there you get hit by a bolt of lightning that shocks some entirely new emotion into life.

Day three ...
It's motherly love I suppose. But those simple words seem too gentle for the near-animalistic, protective fire that suddenly runs through your veins. I’m jotting down notes for this piece one-handed, with my beautiful boy asleep on my chest. I should be sleeping too – the ‘sleep when they sleep’ rule really does save your sanity, but it’s hard to stick to ...

... sometimes you just have to stop and breathe and take everything in.

And there is a lot to take in.

It’s been more than three weeks since our little Oscar arrived on a sunny, shattering morning at Waitakere Hospital. He is a generally placid, sometimes grouchy, always hilarious, mostly milk-drunk dope - and we are completely in love.

Our life is basically ‘feed, sleep, eat, repeat’ - punctuated with projectile poopscapades, swooning visitors, complete lost wonderment, sleep where you dream of sleep, exhausted tears and heady giggles.

It’s an emotional time, and the tiredness lends a softer edge to everything. For me, it’s all been exacerbated by the renewed rawness of having lost my own mum when I was a baby. My sense of loss has been felt more keenly, and yet, something also feels fixed when I hold him in my arms.

We are just so enraptured with him. It hits in tender waves as we stalk his every move - from the adorable snuffling and squeaking noises and squishy sleeping facials, to the way he responds to the sound of my voice from across the room, the pure marvel in his eyes as he gazes into mine, and the way I can inexplicably calm him with just one touch.

Don’t even get me started on all the feels which hit when I watch him and my wife together. I am slayed with love. Moments after he was born he wrapped his hand firmly around one of her fingers and their connection has only tightened since.

Ah, my wife. I don’t know what I would do without her. She is my rock – and has the patience of one! Other titles include reigning household nappy changing master, personal chef, and magician at calming our boy – especially when my eyeballs fall to 500 metres below sea level and I can’t stay awake for another second.

When I got pregnant and set out to write about this whole experience motherhood for I expected to be reflecting on the ‘differences’ of becoming a mum and being in a same-sex couple. To be honest, it’s not even something I have thought about in weeks. We’re just two parents figuring out things like how to fit a carseat, remember to eat properly, and not kill each other when we hit the wall of tiredness.

We haven’t been treated any different either. From all the kind and caring professionals we have dealt with, and the awesome people in our pre-natal class coffee group, to random strangers who hunt down parents of babies in public so they can go all gaga, we’ve just felt like everyone else. The lesbian tag I feel like I wear around my neck sometimes, well, ‘mother’ seems to have overtaken it.

The only people that seem to be decades behind in this area are the marketers of the world, with their smiling straight family stock images, gaudy ‘I heart my mum’ and ‘I heart my dad’ two piece sets … and, god, don’t even get me started on why on earth baby wipes would need to come in pink and blue.

But that moan aside, I need to wrap this up and get back to my new job. I was going to continue adding to the annoying cycle of advice in this piece by coming up with a few things I have learned along the way, but it has already taken a former speed-writer a week to pen what I have so far and my brain is fading.

Instead I will leave you with what I think is the most important thing if you’re becoming a mum: find an awesome midwife, who you click with, and can build a relationship with to the point where you trust them completely. Alongside your partner or support person, they are absolutely crucial. Ours has been an absolute champion, and it would be impossible to list the ways she’s made the anxiety of a labour which (typically) didn’t go to the hoped plan, and the realities of coping with a newborn, infinitely easier. But having met about 900 midwives in the past few weeks I can only imagine it isn’t hard to find great ones – it seems clear it’s far more than a job to them, rather something they launch into with their entire heart. Like motherhood really.

And on that note, I have to go feed this ravenous baby – or, as my smart-arse wife puts it - "the tuck shop is open".

And here we go: Feed, sleep, eat, repeat … feed, sleep …

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Jacqui Stanford - 17th November 2015