the end of the fourth trimester
Percy is 11 weeks today and so begins the transition into the next stage of babyhood. While I don’t remember the details all that well, I do remember that both Che and Poet went through a distinct unsettled stage around this time. There’s generally lots of feeding, lots of waking, not much contented sleeping.
Oh, that’s what’s going on.
Percy has slept really well up until now but lately there’s been a few nights where he has fed two-hourly and had trouble settling back to sleep.* And so begins the sleep deprivation that imbues early parenthood. It’s not as much of a shock third time around but there’s a familiar heaviness in my eyes and a definite lack of patience.
When the newborn bubble bursts there are chipped nails, hair loss (so long, farewell, pregnancy hormones) and, dare I say it, the hard work of life with a baby. Being here now, I am so grateful that I put everything aside to indulge and savour Percy’s first few months. What a precious time it was; peppered with cuddles, deep inhalations of his pure scent, mammoth snooze + feed sessions, tea, banana bread and warm homemade-by-others meals. The house was light-filled as we cocooned inside, watching summer fade to fall. It was as special as it reads.
And now the pace has stepped up a notch. The shift was imminent and I’m ready; let’s go! A beautiful friend of mine, a mother of three, was impeccable with her timing last week when she messaged me to offer some sound “been there, done that” advice. “The physical and emotional work of it (the first year with three children) was enormous,” she wrote. “The relentlessness, the washing, the night-waking, the work of trying to be present and kind to your partner (let alone shag them as well!)…” She’s witty and hilarious, that one. But yes, I agreed with her! And as I said to Daniel yesterday: “I’m busy, I’m really busy, and I’m not glorifying it, or trying to sound important. The fact of the matter is, there is always a lot to do and it’s never going to get done, not all of it, anyway.”
And I know, in my heart, that therein lies the key to happy motherhood.
Che was raking the leaves on Saturday afternoon and he swept them into piles before we went out for a drive. “But what if it gets windy and all the leaves blow away again?” “Well, if that happens, you’ll probably understand my relationship with the washing,” I said. “I wash the clothes, dry the clothes, fold the clothes (rarely put the clothes away) and then I wash the clothes, dry the clothes…” It was the perfect time to share Buddha’s analogy: “Before enlightenment: chop wood. After enlightenment: chop wood.”
This coming year may/will be my busiest to date. But I venture into it knowing that at the end of every day, there will still be chores to do, stories to write and clothes to fold. I can make a decision in that moment to either keep working or get some sleep.
Tonight, if the stars align, I choose sleep.
*for the last two nights Percy has worn a Swaddle Up from Love to Dream and the difference in his sleeping has been phenomenal. I was skeptical at first but I can tell you that it definitely makes for content slumber (many mums agree).