Yesterday morning I followed Joel around the house as he was getting ready for work half-jokingly, half-EXTREMELY SERIOUSLY begging him not to go. Please stay, I begged. Please help me.
You see, that morning I was hit by a bus. Not literally, of course, but the feeling was so close to the real deal that I questioned if I had actually sleep-walked right out into the middle of a busy intersection at the exact moment a mean, crazy, bad-mooded man had hijacked the biggest bus he could find and ran it straight over me. Just for fun.
Let me set the scene.
We had just returned from a weekend away. We started the trip just as light was beginning to appear at the end of a very dark tunnel; I had spent the previous two days getting hammered by the nastiest flu known to mankind which left me pinned to the bed, sweating and delirious. This coincided with me having to look after a small baby all day and all night, one who had suddenly decided that night-time was not for sleeping so woke at 12:30 am, 2:30 am, 3:30 am, 5:30 am, etc etc and me tending to her because Joel was also getting hammered, although not by the flu – by work.
So, the weekend began with me having no more than three hours of broken sleep three nights in a row, and the horrible weak feeling you get post-sickness. But still I remained positive. It’s fine, I said to myself. Everything will be fine. Once we get there, we can relax. We can take it easy. Everything will be better once we get away.
Well, everything was NOT fine, friends. Everything was NOT better once we got away.
Because a sleep deprived baby and an even more sleep deprived mother is a sure recipe for disaster, especially when the sleep-deprived baby does not like to sleep anywhere except her own bed. Quite an unfortunate realization given we were miles from her bed and would not be returning to it for two days.
To cut a long story short, it ended in tears. And what made it worse is that we were holidaying with another couple, who were childless. They had one cooking, at least, but still were a long way from experiencing the world-changing experience having a baby rockets you into. So I felt bad for them. They were thrown into the insides of a relationship under serious pressure. A relationship where I was breaking down and taking out all my exhaustion and frustration on Joel – his freedom, his casualness, his naivety on what Life With A Baby really entails.
To Joel’s credit, he’s an incredibly supportive partner. He’s very sensitive to my needs, he always offers to help, he tries very, very hard. But the difference is, my every waking thought revolves around Ella and every activity we embark on needs to be assessed – when she’s going to need to be fed, when she’s likely to start getting tired, how to time a trip out anywhere based on her needs, how to stop her taking little naps so she can rather have big, solid sleeps, how to minimize the damage caused by her being over-tired, what to bring on a car trip to distract her from crying, what she’ll need to be dressed in given the weather, etc, etc. The list is long and very boring.
And I’ve come to the belief that these thoughts are those of a mother’s only. Maybe I am stereotyping, but it just seems to be how we are programmed.
Because what happens when I don’t have these thoughts, and just go with the flow, like dads often do, is that I end up dealing with a thrashing, screaming, over-tired, unhappy baby in my arms who just gets worse and worse as the days goes on. It’s horrible and it’s a scene I try to avoid at all costs.
However, on the weekend, this scene did play out. I was pacing the hot, windy beach with a SCREAMING baby in my arms while Joel was out surfing with his friend.
The girls on the beach with baby. The boys out surfing.
I did not one little bit like this picture.
To be fair, when Joel left, we were all as happy as can be. My little beach girl was enjoying her holiday.
However, she very quickly turned and I was too sick and tired to cope with it.
This friend, who was pacing the beach right alongside me, was a God-send. I had only met her for the first time the day before. But she was there, bearing the full brunt of my frustration and I did what I swore I would never do to an expectant mother: I offloaded my experience of Motherhood onto her as if it was gospel.
And solely the negative side of it.
In an over-tired rant-like fashion.
My GOD it’s hard. It’s BLOODY hard and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. And these men! They traipse around like nothing changes but EVERYTHING ABSOLUTELY CHANGES. But who does it change for? US! It bloody well ONLY CHANGES FOR US WOMEN!
*More crying from Ella. My voice adjusts so my new friend can hear me over the howling*
CAN I JUST SAY, ENJOY IT NOW, THESE LAST MONTHS OF FREEDOM. BECAUSE THESE BABIES, THEY REQUIRE EVERYTHING OF YOU. Like, your SOUL. And they don’t care if you don’t have no soul left to give. You just have to suck it up and give some more. More, more, more. GIVE, GIVE, GIVE. JUST KEEP IT COMING.
By God, Joel is going to get it when he gets out of that water. I am officially wrecking his weekend. No more nice Rachel. No siree. HE IS GOING DOWN.
And this poor friend scurried along beside me, trying as best she could to help. And to understand.
The scene was not pretty when Joel did, indeed, get out of the water. And once it was over, I looked at my new friend and apologized to her for having to witness it. She just looked at Ella and smiled.
“So little, but so big”, she said. And I smiled back. “Yes, exactly”, I said. “That’s exactly it”.
We all returned home, battered and bruised, but alive.
Hit by buses, but still breathing.
And now I need a little rest.
So little but so big.