On the whole I don’t think it’s productive to dwell on regrets and bad decisions. But there is one thing where I can’t help but shake my head at my former self, and it comes down to those early months with a new baby.
Everyone has a moment that it hits them. When they realise that they are a parent, that someone’s entire life depends on you. Some people get it the first time they hold their baby, for others it can take a lot longer.
For me it was the moment we got home clumsily cradling the precious car seat. I remember lowering myself onto the sofa, exhausted and sore, and a wave of realisation that yes the birth bit was over… but this was the start of the rest of our lives as parents.
It’s easy to laugh about sleepless nights, but parents who have experienced the all-consuming fog of sleep deprivation know it’s a dark hole. My baby did not sleep. She fed and she cried. All. The. Time.
I got to a stage when I could hardly function. I tripped up the stairs when I was holding the baby because I could barely see through my tiredness. Thank goodness my husband was able to drive us to A&E because there is no way I could have driven a car during that period (she was totally fine of course, I was a wreck).
I was so sure that I should have been able to manage, that sleep deprivation is totally normal. That asking for help would have revealed I wasn’t coping. I was wrong and it means that I still don’t really understand it when people talk about ‘the precious newborn stage’ – I was on the brink, I wanted to strangle anyone who told me to “savour every moment”.
Sometimes I imagine a different scenario – one where I managed to get a couple of nights of rest and wonder if I’d have had a happier time.
Unquestionably I would have done.
Bubble now has a service that offers night nannies. To be honest I didn’t even know these wonderful people existed until I had a baby – and then I thought you had to be rich and famous to have one.
Every new mum deserves all the help and support that they can get. It is far more damaging to suffer alone than to raise your hand and ask for help.
I wish I had asked for help.