Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bye Bye Baby-moon

September's baby
Today marks a new beginning for all of us here in the Holly Cottage. And no, it's not just that the spuds have gone in. It's not just that the pea and bean seeds for 2014 are cosied up in their seed trays. It's not that the first daffodil has unfurled its golden locks for us in the front garden. No, none of that - though in any other year these events would be (and still are to a certain degree) the most telling and most significant way marks in the years as they unravel before us here in the Holly Cottage. No. It's the silence in the house that gives the game away. No hushed tones as the smallest of us sleeps. No banging out of baa baa black sheep on the 'play-station'. No audible, infant testing of sounds or screams from the play mat. No Alannah. The little boss has left the building. 

Six months have disappeared in the blink of bleary eyes. Somehow last September we managed to steer our way through the 'baby arrivals area' - bedazzled as we were by that new world of nappies, sleepless nights and squirrel-sized sleep suits. I fumbled through the bewilderment and completely unfathomable nature of the breastfeeding non-schedule. We marvelled at the changes and growth from week to week. We were spellbound by smiles and the new sounds that still come daily. And that first time that she pushed herself up on her  own two tiny arms on the changing table - well, it was just another one of those things that you never thought could be so important as you watched friends and families reacting to their own children's milestones. 

It's a fantastic and wonderfully fulfilling journey experiencing everything for the first time through her eyes, through her senses, through her infant perspective. And it's exhausting too. And challenging, and intense, and isolating, and frightening and the whole array of other emotions that you could easily go through in the space of an hour in the shoes a freshly born mother's/parent's life. it certainly ranks up there with the experiences that you thought you'd never be able for. But before you knew it you were immersed in it and somehow from that bottomless pit of primeval humanness, you were doing it. 

And when it comes to babies, you can certainly forget about self. Being the primary caregiver is a great leveller in that sense as you must (there is no choice) forego all those essential habits and routines that you thought were instrumental to your day. Like getting a full night's sleep. Like having more that two hours unbroken sleep. Like relaxing through your cup of favoured beverage undisturbed - it might happen but it's certainly not guaranteed ;) Like going for a run at the drop of a hat. Like wearing a clean top for more that five minutes.  Like your time being your own to do with as you so please. Like getting your pelvic floor muscles back in shape in an instant - the ladies will understand this one ;)

This morning I dropped Alannah Marie to her childminder. Just for a play date mind. Better to call it that instead of the dreaded first day at the childminder's. Not for her benefit of course, more for the benefit of the distraught mother that left her behind and that never really thought that this day would come. And the silence is deafening. And sure, I got to get those things done that had been screaming at me for an age but I physically couldn't get to because she was wanting or needing me. But it's not the same. Her chair is empty and there isn't even the need to tiptoe for fear of her waking. She'll be back in an hour so there's no need to panic or stress. But the question keeps popping into my head as I prepare to return to the old world that came before - what did we do before her

March's infant.. "lemme at 'em.."
Anyway. We'll be okay. We'll all adjust. Mammy must go back to being an ecologist and championing the plight of habitats that need to be restored and plants and animals that need to be given the freedom to live in sustainable populations. And that's important enough for me to want to go back to work, to make it feel necessary for me to hand over our tiny little baby bear to someone else to care for. And the 'childminder' is a not just a thing - she is a mother and has been there before herself with twins so she is doubly experienced ;) It doesn't make it easy though. And as I look out into a world and a business community that is largely the construct of men, for men and dominated by men, I don't have to wonder why the men wonder why so few women can join them. Not as I have to acknowledge the wrench that is of leaving your beloved offspring behind you. That unnatural feeling of leaving the ones that rely on you, the small people that trust you completely, with another - and usually another woman. It's a tough one. And one that feels more than slightly off balance. One that needs to evolve, along with all the other imbalances in our social and natural world. 

In the meantime...it's bye bye baby-moon here. Onward and upward, no looking back. Except of course to linger on the precious memories of my six months spent solely caring for the needs of our beautiful Alannah Marie. She will remain central of course, but now comes the task of piling back on the layers and layers of responsibilities that were put on hold as I focused on her for the last six months. I wonder how will all those layers sit on top of this new building frame? Interesting times ahead. 

One thing's for sure - there will be plenty of change and plenty of growth and  plenty of new experiences and ample amounts of heartache and exhaustion mixed with immeasurable quantities of joy. Sounds like just another day at the office ;) 


  1. Such honesty...thanks for sharing. You write beautifully, good luck with the return to work.