When Squidge was about four weeks old this came through my letter box.
At this point I was hugely sleep deprived as Squidge was waking anything up to six times in the night and was really difficult to get back to sleep. It was taking over two hours to get him to bed at night even with a lavender bath, a story, cuddles, the lights turned low and soothing music. It didn’t seem to matter if we put him to bed early, late or somewhere in between as he would still fuss and cry whether we stayed with him or not.
Being unable to get my baby to sleep without hours of shrieking and tears (both his and mine) was not exactly helping me feel like the best mummy, especially as during the day I was so tired all I wanted to do was snuggle up on the sofa.
To top it all off Squidge was also abysmal at napping and even though I watched him for the smallest signs that he was sleepy he’d still get completely over tired and then wouldn’t settle unless I cuddled him and let him sleep on me. This completely put paid to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ as he would wake up as soon as I tried to put him down and I was too scared to co-sleep in case I squashed him.
So when that leaflet came through the door I could have cried.
But I didn’t.
I laughed at the comedy timing, giggled at the irony and kept it to show the Northern One.
Looking back I think that was when depression started to loosen its hold on me. If the leaflet had arrived a few weeks earlier I would probably either have burst into tears or have ripped it to shreds and thrown it in the bin. I might also have stamped on it for good measure depending on how my back was holding up that day.
I was so convinced that life after Squidge arrived would be so different and difficult that I just wouldn’t cope and I would have viewed the leaflet as the universe continuing to conspire against me. This started after the emergency contraceptive pill failed even though I had taken it within half an hour, read the information booklet from cover to cover and done everything I was supposed to.
Clearly (or so I thought) the universe had decided that not only did I deserve to become accidentally pregnant but that I also deserved to have my career put back by a couple of years, the fledgling friendships that I was beginning to form ruined and that being pregnant should be the most difficult and frightening experience of my life.
It may sound daft but I was absolutely convinced that various things hated me and were out to get me.
Early on in the pregnancy so many different smells in the kitchen made me feel sick that I was sure my own house was trying to make life horrible because I was a bad person for not wanting this baby. My mind twisted even the smallest things to convince me that I was disgusting, ungrateful, an abomination. If I’d had any sort of control over my thoughts logic would have told me that this couldn’t possibly be the case but instead I remained certain that my own house hated me.
But when the leaflet arrived I didn’t think that the universe was working against me or laughing at me; if anything it was laughing with me.
Realising that was such an enormous step although I didn’t see it at the time.
In a few weeks my thoughts had turned from those of paranoia and persecution that I felt I completely deserved to being able to find humour in things even though I was exhausted and sometimes frankly overwhelmed by my new role and responsibility of being a mummy.
For the past nine months I’d been unable to cope with the simplest of tasks without dissolving into panic and yet here I was rising to the challenging of caring for and raising a tiny, helpless human and not only was I managing but I was able to laugh about it.
Squidge will be one in March; a beautiful, smiling, friendly little hurricane of mess and destruction and I still have that leaflet pinned to the notice board at my desk where I write. It reminds me of how far I came in those four weeks and how far I’ve come since. Squidge sleeps much better now, both during naps and during the night although in the last couple of days he seems to have decided that naps are evil and should be avoided at all costs.
But just like the early days of having a baby, these difficulties too will pass.
And if the universe wants to send me any more jokes via the post I’ll make sure I find the time to read them and laugh.
Unless they’re really awful.
Then I’ll just send them to my Dad.