Post Natal Depression was a concern of mine, pre-Leila. I felt I’d be susceptible to it thanks to my past form, and the sadness of the loss of my sister, that was bound to stain the happy experience of having a baby.
But in fact (as you may have gathered) I’ve felt so on top of the world that I’ve wondered if there’s another sort of PND – Post Natal Delirium. Some days I feel the pram, the baby and I are floating rather than plodding along the streets of Manchester, and I almost expect to see a menagerie of cartoon bluebirds and woodlands animals circling us.
The sadness is there, of course- and that’s another blog post. But I’ve found that the heart grows to accomodate breathtaking joy alongside breathtaking sorrow. Seems I spend much of my time breathless these days.
When Leila was tiny I wrote that it was hard work but wonderful, then a few posts later was to be found flinging my metaphorical hat in the air and clicking my postpartum heels (taking care to watch that pelvic floor) at the discovery that it gets easier. So so much easier. But that’s not the whole story, of course. Five months into our extended babymoon, it’s not all somersaulting heartflips and woozy sighs. Some if it is still a slog. A fun slog. Like a marathon, perhaps.
A friend- another new mum- wrote to us when Leila was born. With the uphill grind of the first few weeks fresh in her mind, she assured us that “even the hardest days have magic moments”. This is true. But it also works the other way round: even the most magical days have hard moments. Hard because a baby has no understanding that you’re trying to take a shower, that you were just about to eat your lunch, that if she doesn’t nap now she’ll be burrowing her tiny fists into her eye sockets hours before bedtime. Because leaving the house takes five times as long. Because just when you think you’ve got it made, a curveball flies out of nowhere: she won’t feed properly, she turns over in her sleep and can’t turn back, the blasted four month sleep regression hits. You’re enjoying a relaxing evening when the baby-who-never-wakes-in-the-evening, well, wakes in the evening (this just happened, moments ago). 3am starts to feel like a time of night you’d rather not be familiar with on such a regular basis. You realise you haven’t been alone, or kept your bosoms in your bra, for longer than a few hours since February.
Leila (who now, following a lovely ceremony this weekend, has a Buddhist name- the very apt Punyabha, meaning “Light of Blessings”) is the smiliest, jolliest little beast I can imagine. She’s one of those “easy babies”. But even the easiest babies have their hard moments. And strange to tell, unlike every other hard thing I can think of, I don’t mind these moments a jot. Because the next minute this will happen, and the bluebirds circle my head once again: