Eight months ago our little pal came into this world, and although I have been posting a lot on Instagram about motherhood, I did not take the time to get into detail a little deeper, except here and here. So, now is the time for a little recap on the past eight months.
Being a mum for eight months – in our case – means the biggest love of my life and it seems to be getting bigger every day, means that I haven’t slept for more than 3 or 4 (often just 2) hours in a row, it means eight months of challenges, insecurities and self-doubt, and it means eight months of finding our roles as a family of three.
To come straight to the point: I did not expect motherhood to be this challenging. I wouldn’t have thought that my baby would not lie or sit in her stroller, would not have thought that our nights would turn out to be that restless over such a long period, and, most of all, I would not have thought that “Muttergefühle” (maternal feelings), the connection between my baby and I and, generally, love can become so big that I can never, never, not even for an hour at the gym, switch off my head.
I believe that we had and are having to face pretty much any challenges one can have with a baby, a healthy one that is (obviously, our “problems” are nothing compared to those parents and families with ill or disabled children have). Maybe that’s because our daughter already crawled at the age of just five months and because she generally is a very active, ambitious one. You better not try to slow her down, she starts screaming at anyone who is trying to stop her or hold her still. She wants to explore, move, crawl, stand the whole day; except when she’s tired, then she needs all the physical contact she can get. Thus, she sleeps in a sling during the day, any attempts to lay her down into her bed end up with her crying and us “fighting” for around 45 minutes, until I give up, often crying with her, because my nerves cannot handle the situation.
So, I carry my baby during the day through her naps, in the beginning she did four, now three a day. At nighttime she protests against her baby cot, although it is placed right next to our bed. I therefore “give in” at some point during the night and put her to sleep between us. There is a part in me who would like her to sleep in her own bed in her own room, however, I do love to sleep so close to her, holding hands, foreheads touching. It makes me a little emotional often during the night, when I am so tired anyway, that sometimes I can’t help but start crying because I somehow never want her to grow up. She’s so tiny still, so helpless, so sweet and so perfect.
I can’t describe the love I feel for my baby girl and how proud she makes me every single day. Whenever I see pictures of myself being pregnant, I still don’t understand that this was her inside of me! It is crazy.
Ignoring the nights, she has been absolutely happy for the past few weeks. Smiles at me, smiles at her dad, “talks” the whole day in her baby language, crawls around through our apartment, high speed mode on, and always looks back at us as if she’s checking that we still pay attention to her. Whenever our eyes meet then, she starts laughing with a funny noise, and I often can’t help walking towards her, hugging her and telling her for the 100th time that there are no words which can describe how much I love her.
She does make me go crazy though. We had multiple nights in which I thought: I can’t do this, I simply can’t. Her play instinct at nighttime is driving me mad, every night is starting to become restless as of 2am. We are often up from 2 to 3am as well as from 4 to 6am or 5 to 7am. Once she’s up, she’s up. There is no way I can get her back to sleep, whenever I am trying to rock her back to sleep, she will start a screaming tantrum. She wants to crawl, play, stand up, sit up – in the middle of every night, for an hour at least. I did in fact ask for professional help from a “Schlafberaterin” (“sleep consultant”), we tried to discuss ways I could try to make her sleep better, both during the day and at nighttime. There was no exact tipp or help given yet, so: We are up. Every night. In the morning, I wake my boyfriend around 6 or 7am, so that I get two to three hours of sleep then.
I am finding that a nightmare, it is beyond anything I had imagined motherhood to be. How do other mums have two, three, four children, I often wonder!?
On the other hand: The love for my baby is immense. I do want more children, too.
What I miss is time for myself. I miss my work. I miss time and head space to be creative, to work on projects and time for my hobbies, time to cook and bake and to take pictures. A friend of mine recently said that perhaps I am trying a little too hard to continue living the life I did before I became a mum. That’s probably true, but it’s nothing I am afraid to say: Yes, I did love the life I lived before becoming a mum, and I will do my best to somehow keep doing things for myself.
While I am trying to take as much time for myself as possible, there is very little time left for my relationship. I recently said to my boyfriend that we should take a weekend “off”, just the two of us, as soon as our daughter is one year old and can stay with her grandma for a weekend. The idea of a spa weekend with lots of sleep, food and sauna seems like a dream come true to me, I do admit, I am somehow working towards that “goal”.
I am sometimes unhappy and often feel lethargic, feel slowed down by my baby, am so tired that my eyes hurt. I also feel left alone by my boyfriend who is working way too much, am unfair to any person who is (apparently) criticizing me or whose babies are “easier” than mine is. I don’t like myself very much these days, and I blame mostly the lack of sleep for it.
I know that the main reason for my imbalance is my ambition to do a thousand things at once, and to be good at all of them. Having a baby sometimes is all one can handle – I am sure other mums will agree here–, yet I am always also trying to keep the house perfectly clean, do the laundry as often as necessary, eat fruits and vegetables and homemade meals every day. Lowering demands and standards would probably help everyone in our family, not just me, but also our little rocket baby who is also called “Turbo-Toni”.
To slowly come to an end: I believe the future is bright for us. We now have a baby sitter who comes to help twice a week, which gives me time to work, exercise, or simply go outside by myself, or sleep. I am very grateful for her, yet is it difficult for me to accept her help and “let go” of my baby. Also, my boyfriend will be on paternal leave for three months, which is an absolute light at the end of the tunnel: I so look forward to the three of us spending time together. Every moment that the two of us share with our baby feels like an absolute blessing, together, the three of us, we have so much joy.
I do not want to miss a single day with our little sunshine; however, and that is the ironic part about it, I do in fact sometimes miss my „previous“ life, mainly the nights in which I just slept through the night. I cannot imagine life without my baby girl, however, she is the most challenging and often frustrating and overwhelming “project” I ever had.
I hope that other mums will understand my (paradoxic, I admit) thoughts and feelings. I often receive messages via Instagram from mothers who tell me they absolutely relate to my honest words, apparently not man people talk about it though. For me it feels just natural, and I would love to hear from you if you are feeling the same (as well as, obviously, different!).
The photos are by my friend and wonderful photographer Claudia Simchen, taken at the newly opened hotel Lindley Lindenberg.
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