SIX MONTHS AND TWO TEETH LATER...
Updated: Jan 28
I can't believe that it has already been six months since I gave birth to a new life, my daughter's life. Once a small shrimp, she is a now a blue-eyed rose-cheeked beautiful girl with 2 teeth. She is fun, active, gay, she has a loud ringing voice and she goes from groaning to laughing (and back) in a second. We have learnt to understand her while raising her because when we raise a baby we raise ourselves.
In six months Anna has turned from a "fetus outside" to a lively and curious baby. She weighs 7.2 kgs, measures 70 cms and has a very big and almost bold head (we shove her at 4 months as she only had one small patch of hair left). She has learnt to turn from the belly to the back and back. She is very strong and active and always tries to stand up on her straight legs once she is supported by the hands. By 6 months she has travelled by car, by train and by plane. She loves any kind of movement and quickly gets bored without it. She has seen almost all her parents' friends and the full family from both sides. She is very social, likes to stay in the arms of any stranger and gives a lot of charming smiles. She giggles and laughs out loud when surprised by a sudden sound like clapping hands.
She started sleeping through a short night (from 12 am to 6 am) at 2 months old and through a full night (9 pm - 8 am although sometimes she wakes up at 6 am to eat ) at 5 months old. We teach her to sleep everywhere and take her with us when we get invited to our friends' places. In her short life she has slept in 7 houses. When we are at home, since she was 3 weeks old, she has been sleeping in her own room. Not that I particularly enjoy jogging at night from our bedroom to the nursery, but to be honest, I sleep much better when I don't have to listen to her grunting and smacking close to me. I also believe that by letting her sleep alone, I give her the freedom of learning to manage her sleep troubles by herself without disturbing her. To put her to sleep, we just need to put her on a flat surface with a pacifier in her mouth and a "doudou" (a comforter in French, but so much cuter as a name) in her hands. She falls asleep herself most of the times.
I had only breast fed her for 1 month before for some reason I ran out of milk, maybe because I did something wrong or because she was premature, but either way the source dried. She has recently started eating hard food and so far she has liked everything we have given to her: carrots, potatoes (otherwise she would not be Russian), butternut, apples, bananas and pears. She also holds her bottle herself.
We talk to her in two languages - me in Russian and the Chef - in French. She reacts to her international name (Slatki is her nickname which means "Sweetie" in Russian) and my heart fills with joy. I am such a proud mother!
Growing into motherhood
I knew absolutely nothing about parenting before Slatki was born. I had never changed a nappy, preferred to stay with a dozen of grown-up children than one crying baby and considered my only babysitting experience as a nearly psychological trauma (the girl was 3 years old). But I was ready to LEARN all that and to GROW into a mother. Many people say you can never be fully prepared to parenting and in some extend it is true, but you can definitely get to a mature age when the lack of going out would not be a huge loss (writing this makes me feel very old!). Moreover, at this "mature" age you are usually surrounded by other parents who willingly share their experiences and you can also easily find lots of literature on the subject.
However much you read though, the encounter with the first difficulties is tough. I remember my first night after giving birth. Slatki had just been released from her cables in the neonatal unit and could finally sleep with me in the same room. Before I got the chance to spend the first night with my baby, the nurse called me and asked, "Do you prefer that we call you in the room every three hours or will you set an alarm clock yourself?" "Thank you... but what for?", I asked hesitantly, ashamed of my ignorance. "To feed your baby, of course! She needs to be breast-fed every 3 hours, so at 9 pm, 3 am, 6am and again at 9 am. And yes, because you don't really have milk yet, you need to pump your breasts to get as much as you can". Every feeding during these first few days of Slatki's life lasted for 1 hour... I remember myself, exhausted by the labour, thinking before answering - maybe I should just let her sleep in the neonatal unit for another night until I have at least one night to recover? But my motherly instinct won over my fatigue... I don't want it to sound like the beginning of the end of your life, but you need to know that motherhood is not all snuggles on the sofa and walks in the park.
Happy Mother - Happy Baby
My point here though is different. What I got to know is that your parenting experience depends largely on your own perception. If you tell yourself that as a mother you have to perform feats, abandon your career, social and love life in favour of your baby, this will unlikely make you happy and when the mother feels miserable, she can't give her best to her child. My credo in this short period of motherhood has always been - do whatever makes you feel good.
I'm far from being an expert in parenting and I regularly have my moments of despair and fatigue as all mothers do, but I feel happy about being a mother. I have never had baby blues or any regrets, despite not having had much help until now (no nanny or maids and our families living far). I have an impression of leading a full life (apart from the fact that I don't have a job yet), which became even richer with the arrival of the baby. It is easy to say perhaps when you only have 1 baby, and a relatively good one, as well as the means to support the family, but I believe it also comes from inside, from your moral tonus as a mother.
In my next article I will share with you a list with my own findings of what helped me not only to survive through these first 6 months, but also to live them happily.