I cried. That’s what I remember. When they handed me my daughter Ava for the first time I remember looking into her pink, scrunched up, anguished face – her beautiful, beautiful face – and I cried. Cried because I was flooded with happiness and it couldn’t help but leak from my eyes and splash down my cheeks as I stared in wonder at this divine little creature who was mine. It was the happiest I had ever been. That’s what I remember.
Fastforward six weeks and I was crying again. But this time it wasn’t quite such a tender scene. For starters, we were in Coles. In the cereal aisle. Or was it the baby aisle? It’s a blur to me, even now.
Wherever I was in Coles that day, I had a wailing baby strapped to my chest in a sling and we were both crying big heavy tears because neither of us had slept. For weeks. My beautiful baby girl had reflux – not that I knew it then. All I knew was that I had a baby who wailed day. And night. All night. And it was slowly killing me. At least that’s what it felt like.
And there you have it. The yin and the yang. The bitter and the sweet of motherhood.
This video on what mothers wish they’d known earlier is one of the most watched Mamamia videos of all time.
I cry every single time I watch it. The line, “Millions of parents survive sleep deprivation” always gets me. Because, Lord knows when you’re up at 1am and 2.17am and again at 2.48am — it feels like it will kill you. The darkness of night stretches on forever. Whether your baby is eight weeks, eight months or eighteen months, it’s a very, very lonely time and you often feel like you’re the only mother in the world who has a baby who just won’t sleep.
But knowing that sleep deprivation happens to millions of parents (and that you WILL survive it!) is just one of the things I wish I’d known earlier. Here are some of the other things I wish I’d known …