The best way I can describe month 1 is “surreal”. One of my friends was onto something when she said “Month 1 was like waking up from an accident where you’d got run over by a love lorry; you feel the most love you’ve ever felt before but absolutely dreadful at the same time”
The first thing I was astounded at was that the world was going on in spite of the fact that I had just given birth. I felt like there should at the very least have been a national holiday declared so people would have proper time to reflect on the fact. I was astounded that people close to me were continuing with their lives, putting things on Facebook about Sandwiches and the weather and their journeys to work…
If you are anything like me for the first month you’ll have no idea at all what you’re doing, you go from nappy to feed to wind to change and you repeat, all day and all night, never really feeling like you’re nailing it. You pick up your baby like you’re picking up a large floppy pizza, sliding your hands under it flat and hoping no pepperoni falls off…bits of it flapping here and there.
You’ll do a lot of staring, you’ll probably spend minutes at a time studying every millimetre of this new tiny face, the little downy hairs, intricate little ears, the tiny eyes that tend to look just above your head rather than at your eyes, which you wish they would.
You will never be more obsessed with your boobs and what may or may not be coming out of them. Maybe your first big milestone after the baby coming out is the day your “milk comes in”. It happens a few days after the baby comes out and until then you’ll have been feeding her very little, she and you will be going a little out of your minds as she’s ravenous and you’re exhausted. But one day you’ll wake up with the biggest bazookas you could ever imagine – like someone has put 2 cantaloupes down your pyjama top in the night, big, hard, hot, veiny cantaloupes with milk coming out of them.
And tired…I’m sure this is the fifty millionth time you’re hearing it but you’ll be tired. So tired you could (and will) cry. You’ll get maybe 2 hours sleep at a time and even when you do manage it, you won’t sleep properly because of a weird new phenomenon you’ll come to love and hate in equal measure that I call “baby frequency”. Your ears are now permanently tuned into baby FM. Every little sigh, murmur, breath, hiccup and movement will be audible to you as clear as day whether you’re asleep or not.
You might freak out quite a lot; Is that breathing normal? Is her chest meant to move like that? What’s that noise she’s making? Is she still alive? Why is her breathing so fast? Why is her breathing so slow? Oh my god what was that? That’s the fourth time she’s had hiccups today! Is her face meant to be doing that? What the hell is in that nappy? How many times has she wee’d today? Is her fontanelle meant to be pulsing?! Is she dehydrated? Is she going to be sick? Was that a burp or just a noise? Do you think she can breathe properly in this position? Is she too hot? Is she cold? Was that a sneeze?! Is she walking up? What do you think she wants? Do you think her arm is comfy like this? Support her head! Be careful!…and on and on…
You’ll walk around in a daze for the first month doing things like putting the kettle on 3 times before you actually do anything with the water, picking things up and putting them down again, wandering into a room and forgetting what you are in there for.
You’ll feel like all you do all day long is walk to and from the changing station taking off nappies, cleaning up what looks and smells like liquified alien, and putting on nappies. You might take ages doing this at first as you might have decided to use cotton wool and water rather than wipes. You’ll want to be gentle with your spindly little baby limbs, trying not to hurt them or break them or pull their bird-legs out of their sockets. Pooh will go places you never thought it could, up backs, out of leg holes, across the room at 50mph, on your hands, face, legs, arms, under finger nails, on walls. After 2 or three projectile pooh incidents you’ll quickly master a “minimal nappy-less time” technique, whipping one nappy off with another already in place to save you from spurting yellow pooh or rogue wee fountains.
You will, at some point in the first month, probably at 3am, damn to the seventh circle of hell, the person who invented fastening poppers. You’ll definitely fasten a babygrow and be left with one popper without a partner and just leave it like that because the thought of opening it all back up and re-doing it makes you want to boil your own head. You’ll wonder who in their right mind would invent a bottom-only opening babygrow for teeny bobble-headed newborns. You’ll pick up a back fastening babygrow that someone (without kids) bought you as a gift and laugh at the very thought of it.
You’ll have moments where all you want to hear in the universe is a burp.
You’ll have moments where you’ll wake up and bargain with God, Allah, the spirits or the universe to not let that be your baby be crying because you are about to fall asleep on your feet.
You will probably fall asleep feeding your baby and freak the heck out. A few times.
You’ll go out of the house for the first time and it’ll feel like walking into a zombie apocalypse, everything is a threat. Every road user is a depraved maniac who, at any moment could mount the pavement/cross over into your lane and run your child down. Seagulls and pigeons may as well be pterodactyls. Someone will smoke a cigarette near you in the street and you will want to decapitate them.
You’ll realise why people bought you so many muslins, you’ll realise you don’t have nearly enough babygrows, you’ll do a shed load of laundry, you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time getting your petal-delicate baby dressed only for it to pooh, vomit, wee all over itself and you’ll wonder if you can just “wipe it off” so as not to have to do the whole rigmarole again.
You will spend 99% of the first month with 2 or more of the following somewhere on your clothes and hair: Pooh, vomit, wee, drool, your own tears.
You’ll wonder why you never realised that babies fart, both loudly and plentifully.
At some point, someone will ask you to perform the equivalent of balancing a quadratic equation (entering your pin number, stating your date of birth or middle name, writing your postcode or worse, mobile phone number).
There’s no advice that can prepare you for that first month, it’ll definitely be better than you are imagining, you’ll definitely cope better than you thought you would and you’ll very quickly get used to the tiredness. By week 3 you won’t even feel tired anymore. You accept that you exist in a world without sleep now, you are a sleepless superhero, saving the world, one sh*tty nappy at a time, from now on you are The Amazing Awake-Woman.