Eve is 17 days old today, I know this because at my first mother and baby group today people kept on asking and I realised that I was so tired and fraught that I wasn't entirely sure what day it was, let alone how old Eve was.
There is a great conspiracy of silence about motherhood, a myth perpetuated by every "routine led" baby book in the market. The book I have been following suggests that babies should only need feeding every 3 hours and be woken up again and again until they are "full". The dreaded Gina Ford suggests that babies should be able to sleep through the night by week 10. Even the most innocuous of baby books is laden with norms outside of which any normal mother feels guilty.
After another horrible night with Eve, when she screamed and cried and would either not fall asleep or sleep only for half an hour I was at the end of my tether. This isn't supposed to be what she is doing. I have been so good about following the routine prescribed, why is it not working? I felt frustration, guilt, and fear that I can't cope with this. It was all compounded by me only getting a couple of hours sleep myself. That way post natal depression lies so I need to get a grip.
So I headed off to a mother and baby group organised by a local midwife service. The moment I walked in I burst into tears and it all flooded out. The worry about Eve not feeding properly, or sleeping, the two hourly feeds, the crying, my lack of sleep. The instant response of the first midwife was simply, "Of course, that is normal. You have a two week old baby!". The relief I felt was incredible. This is normal? Feeding every 90 minutes is OK? Her not going to sleep and needing to be held is alright?
As more and more mothers of older babies turned up this was repeated time and time again. The tale of an entire dinner party missed because a baby would not go down, feeding for 6 hours when the baby just didn't seem to have enough, the lack of sleep and the tears and the rows with the husbands. It all sounded horribly familiar.
The general message from all the Mums was - it is tough for everyone, it does get better after a few weeks, and not to get too stressed. Ask for help, make sure the husband helps at night - work or no work the next day, and keep some sanity.
The midwife weighed Eve (she is putting on weight like a trouper), checked my feeding technique and suggested an option that might work better, and made a suggestion about how to get Eve to go down in the cot. And told me that I absolutely have to come every week.
I am still tired, a little teary, feel a bit inadequate. However, I am now repeating like a mantra "it will get better, it will get better" and just need to hang onto my sanity until it does.