it’s still hard

its still hard - keri bainborough

its still hard - keri bainboroughHappy MonYAY! Cos when you’re a new mom there ain’t no difference between Friday and Monday, so lets just make them all Yays.

I’ve just put Imogen down for a nap and so I’m quickly going to try and post something here before she wakes up. Nothing like limited time to make you bang out an (im)perfect blog post. On Saturday my husband called in for a mobile massage – we live at the guesthouse we manage, and so we have these kind of connections, yo. I haven’t had a massage since halfway through my pregnancy and for someone who used to make regular massages a priority, that is a long time. He could see I was tired and frustrated and my body was aching from rocking Imogen to sleep all week, and so the man did what was good for him and the next thing I knew little Elmarie as Andrew looked after Immy during suicide hour – shame! I was thankfully in a room far away from the dogs barking and the baby crying/laughing as any sound she makes, causes my ears to prick and I can’t relax.  As soon as Elmarie put her strong hands on my legs, tears began to fall from my house. Thank god she was playing music and my face was stuck in the massage bed hole, because I had to take some deep breaths.

It felt so good to be touched with care that every cell in my body sighed in relief and melted into little puddles that escaped from my eyeballs. In the past year my body has done the most awesome, amazing, superhuman things – from going a tiny universe in my belly to pushing it out and then nourishing it – all by its lonesome. My body has been kicked from the inside, split in two, cracked, carried heavy weight, related monotonous movements, and other than a hug now and then from my husband or a friend, very little love has been showered upon my physical self. I’ve barely even taken the time to rub cream onto myself. My elbows are dry and cracked and every time I look in the mirror and decide that I’m still too fleshy and I should go for a run, my ankles or knees ache in protest when I get home. In that moment I realised my body was aching for some love.

Despite the occasional yoga session, hasty journal entry, angel card reading or solo walk, I’ve had to admit:

I have not been kind on my body.

I have not been gentle with myself.

I start off every day promising myself that I will eat healthily – and end off every day with half a slab of Lindt chocolate. In October, I followed the Green Body Challenge with Jess Kolowitz aka The Green Dietitian and it was so great – I felt amazing and I lost a couple of kilograms and felt so energised and revitalised. I don’t know why November has seen me going backwards. It could be Immy’s recent sleep issues, it could be year end stress and financial pressures (not working and not having any of your own money can make one very edgy), it could be the fact that we have no family around and no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of grannies or grandpas coming to visit anytime soon, or it could be that Andrew is working pretty much 24/7 now (season is always hard on our love life) and we don’t have much time for us with work and a baby. It’s probably a combination of all of the above… but yesterday when I was rocking Immy to sleep for the umpteenth time and I started rocking her a little too vigorously that i stopped and thought… “you’re going a little psycho, my love.”

For some reason, I also got a message right then from my earth angel, Colleen van Heerden, and I let it all spill out – that I had had my first massage since my last one with her in February and that I had cried. We got chatting and i came to the realisation that perhaps I am a little anxious, stressed and maybe even depressed. And this is affecting Imogen and, in turn, causing her to not settle as well as she normally does.

It felt so good to acknowledge it. It felt good to finally let down the barrier and allow myself to admit that I’m not ok. That I’m battling. i was talking to a fellow mama friend about it and she pointed out something so true. In the beginning, everyone knows it’s hard. The first twelve weeks are tough and a shock on the system. Everyone comes flying in to help, messages of support and encouragement flood in, and you’re allowed to stay in your pjs all day and forget to eat and skip showers. But by the time baby is five months old, it seems as if you’re expected to have it all down pat. you should be able to cook three healthy meals a day, fit in some gym time, your baby should be having regular day naps and sleeping through the night (mostly), you should be breastfeeding like it’s old hat and, if you haven’t already, you should be ready to maybe start going back to work.

I’m not sure if these are my own expectations or society’s expectations or if i just got the idea somewhere that I’d have it all waxed by now (and I know so many experienced moms are probably laughing inside and with knowing at this right about now), but i’m having to realise and acknowledge that it’s still hard, man. Maybe even harder than newborn life because there’s no help and so many activities to think about now: cooking and preparing her solids, regular naps, crawling, moving, sitting, educational play time, baby hurting herself, grocery shopping, money, exercising, eating right – the list goes on and on. It’s so exhausting. And for fuck’s sake, my elbows need some goddam TLC!

As to how I’m supposed to solve all of the above and give myself more time for massages and body love, I still have to figure out, because to be honest, 2017 has me broke AF and worrying about how much every coffee date is going to cost. But at least I can admit to myself that it’s ok. That I know I need to be more gentle and more kind on myself. I know I need to take time out. I know I need to ask for help.

I’m still in my pyjamas as I write this. It’s 10:29 AM and I have managed to put Immy down for two naps, breastfeed her twice, change two nappies, cook and feed her some stewed pear, make myself a smoothie, jammed her little finger in a storage jar which was heartbreaking and the first time I’ve ever made her cry from physical pain, brushed my teeth, unpacked and repacked the dishwasher, checked my emails and written a blog post. I may not be showered and my roots may be greasy and growing out and my face unmade, but I’m pretty proud. I might even make the shops today. Maybe even cook a healthy meal. Maybe… just maybe…. take a shower. And, for the love of all things good and true, maybe rub some healing balm on my poor little elbows.

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  1. Ah man, I resonate so much with this. Everyone said “it gets easier”, and it does for like a minute. Then it gets harder. Every stage there is more to think, worry and fuss about. Strongs mama!

  2. To be honest, I only felt a real shift towards ‘easier’ at the 2-year mark. But an old lady said to me once that it just gets better and better, and that I’ve found to be true. New challenges arrive but the joy gets more. I think a lot of the pressure comes from the idea that as strong=independent women we should be doing it all, that unpaid work doesn’t count as much as paid work, that disheveled and unkempt and soft and strong and broken and loving and stained is not its own kind of glamorous and sacred. In striding forth and working hard to make sure that women can do whatever they want, and whatever men can do, we forgot to prize the work that women have always done. Oh, and then the bullshit rules that someone made up of what is ‘right’ when it comes to nap times and sleeping and feeding and solids, when actually it’s about you and your kid and your family and peace and love and light and sweetness in your home.

  3. It doesn’t help at all, but if it makes you feel less alone, it’s hard for the first 1-3 years. Especially so if you’ve no support – we didn’t either. At 4 months I was a sleep deprived, depressed, exhausted wreck and I had to go back to work. That was the best and the hardest thing I ever did. Best because my brain needed some stimulation (a tiny baby is cute and demanding, but not good conversation) and the hardest because leaving my baby and functioning on no sleep? That’s hard.
    It’s hard. It’s still hard. It’s really hard.
    But it does get better. My 2.5 year old has just learned to play by himself, is more independent and I only have to contend with 1 nap per day. Yesterday I sat on the couch and read a magazine while he played – for the first time since he was born!!
    It takes a long time, but it does get better. Hang in there. Try to find the time to give yourself some love. I can SO relate to every single word you’ve written here. Good luck, I’ll cross my fingers it gets easier sooner rather than later (and yes, stress definitely transmits to your baby, mine was a nightmare and I had severe PND).

  4. I LOVE YOU. And you are doing an amazing job Keri! I think it’s something that all moms must go through – so you are not alone. If I was nearer, I would pop over and rub some cream on your elbows for you! 🙂
    (IF it’s any consolation – I didn’t shower until 4:30pm yesterday and my hair has been a total greaseball for several days… and i don’t even have a baby as a valid excuse! YOU CAN WORK THAT SHIT!) 🙂

  5. The hard with no one around to help is just so so many things.But I promise you it does start to get easier in degrees. I was home alone with K for 2 years, and when he was 1.5 I got my depression diagnosis. Just like you, no money of my own…and a busy husband. Sharing my bit, so you can see your not alone in this.

    There are small things that you and Andrew can do as a team, and one of them is finding a way to give you that moment you need even with the busy season. I know that you will find a way.

    Remember this for the darkest moments – you are the best mommy for your Imogen. No one could ever be a better mommy for her.

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