Ok so what the hell do I do now?
This is what I said when I walked through my front door the first day I bought Rae home. But substitute the word hell for a word that rhymes with duck and it’s more accurate (my mum reads this and she tells me off if I swear). I’d been told not to bombard her with visitors in the first week so I was on my own. I told myself I was going to be on my own a lot so just man up and get on with it. I don’t have much memory of the first few weeks, I think I was in a bit of shock and just went on to autopilot. I couldn’t tell you what time she went to bed or woke up but I don’t remember there being any traumatic experiences which I was thankful for. What I do know is that Rae settled extremely well. I’d prepared myself for her getting upset in the night if she woke up not knowing where she was but from day one she slept in her cot as if she’d done it from birth. Rae made my first few weeks of being a mummy very easy (compared to what it could have been like). I tried to keep to the same routine she’d had at the foster parents as much as I could but I had to quickly learn the signs of her being tired for her daytime nap and try and get more of a routine in place for that. Maggie told me it had been difficult because Rae had had to visit her birth parents at a contact centre 5 days a week and the times could vary so there was no set nap time. I soon worked out that after lunch was probably the best time. I was probably a bit too obsessive about my routine at the beginning but I was worried if I went off track it would completely mess her up. Eventually a friend sat me down and told me it was ok if she had lunch at 12 instead of half 11, or went to bed half an hour later than usual, and I realised how regimented I was (and probably annoying too) and I relaxed a bit then.
What I do know about those first few weeks was that I was tired, but not just normal tired, a tired I hadn’t experienced before. I’d gone from just lying on the sofa whenever I wanted to, to basically doing anything but that. My god babies are tiring. At this stage Rae was just sitting up on her own and didn’t move anywhere but I still had to occupy her for the 10 or so hours she was awake each day. It was mentally tiring more than anything else. But again I was lucky I had such a happy baby. She rarely cried and just seemed to be happy with whatever game I played with her. I was also very lucky that she slept so well. To this day she will sleep 12 hours a night if not more. Her personal best is 14 hours straight. I know I am very lucky to have a baby that sleeps so well and do not take it for granted. The foster parents are the ones who got her in to that sleeping routine and for that I will be eternally grateful. I’m not sure how I would have coped in the first few months if I wasn’t getting a good night’s sleep and I take my hat off to the mums and dads who are up every two hours then have to function through the day as well. Gradually I learnt her different moods and feelings and became a lot more relaxed. I found it really difficult to call myself Mummy at first. It sounded alien. I also found it difficult to tell her I loved her until I really felt it. About two months in I remember Rae was in the bath. I can’t remember what I said or did but she looked up at me and smiled and I burst in to tears. I’d just had this rush of love that I’d not felt before and that’s when it started growing. It was still a few months though before I really felt like she was mine. At some point during the first few months I remember face timing my sister about 8am on a Saturday morning. As soon as she answered I just started crying. She panicked asking me what was wrong and was Rae ok. I just said ‘this is so hard’ and couldn’t say anything else. I don’t remember anything in particular happening that made me do this. I think I’d just been bottling it up, putting on this brave face feeling like I had to prove to everyone that of course I was coping. But do you know what I’ve found out? It’s ok to cry, it’s GOOD to cry, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. Every new mum feels like it at some point and on many more than just one occasion. I’m going to go in to this a bit more in another blog because I feel like it’s something that needs to be said that not many people talk about but right now it’s 10pm and I’ve learnt that I love my sleep a lot more than I used to so I’m calling it a night.