Mothering a tot who will just not keep time

A young mother shaking raffle for a baby while talking on phone.

What you need to know:

  • Last two days I have gone to bed feeling low and abandoned and without bearing.
  • Anyway I am keen on getting Njeeh to sleep through the night because the night wakings are frustrating me.

Tuesday September 8, 2020. 11.15pm.

Today is officially day four of maternity leave. Baby Njeeh is four days old. I think he still thinks he’s in my belly. He must look at us staring and think, Who are you people? We are your family, kiddo. Your rides or die.

GB sees me perambulating the digs with Njeeh in my arms or watching Netflix while pumping, or napping in the late afternoons, and he assumes I’m on holiday. Or on a break from life. Having it easy. I’m not.

What he doesn’t understand – or what anyone who has never had a newborn would – is that there is always something to do. Some mothering. It’s a never-exhausted to-do list. The only time I have nothing to do is the small window between him going to sleep and me in bed. About 15 minutes before I shut down as well.

Fifteen minutes, that’s all I get to myself. Know what I’ll do with my 15 minutes? I’ll write. Journal. Journaling has always centered me. Pressed the reset button. Put things in perspective. And so I will journal. Everyday. As long as I need to. I will journal – on Google Notes – because it’s easy to lose it. It’s easy to lose myself. So damn easy.

Sunday September 13, 2020. 11.27pm

I had the best day today, the best one so far. Njeeh slept in our bed with me – ha-ha - and GB in Muna’s. He suckled himself to sleep. The hours he awoke coincided with my N-REM sleep, so I woke refreshed and energetic. Expressed, ate well, had a shower then took him outside to soak in some sun. His skin is pale and peeling, as wan as spring chicken. And he has never seen sunshine before or felt wind in his face, so it was heartwarming to imagine how it was making him feel. We later napped all afternoon.

On any other Sunday we would be hosting guests. But, you know, 2020, Covid. To be honest, I’m happy about this no-guests rule. I get to have the day to myself and Njeeh and just rest. Rest and bond. Recover. Guests wear me out. They come bearing diapers and words of encouragement and boatloads of wisdom but they also wear me out. Sorry. Rather, I’m sorry for not being sorry.

Last two days I have gone to bed feeling low and abandoned and without bearing. Today, I go feeling full and spongy and sunshiny and that I have tamed this beast called parenting. I am happy in this moment. Content. Thank you, Lord. And thank you for my little growing family.

Wednesday September 30, 2020. 10.23pm.

I am already in bed. Njeeh is snoring in his crib like a gentle giant, which means he's getting quality REM sleep. Yesterday I changed his bedtime routine and it went horribly. Jesus. A book I'm reading – ‘The Happy Sleeper: A Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep’ – says to have him in bed by 7pm. This early bedtime is in line with his circadian system and will have him sleep through the night by three months, it says. So I brought his bath time up from 8.30 to 6.40pm.

Didn't the young man fuss! Jesus. He was waking almost every hour. I even stopped checking the time because it was depressing me. Poor fella didn't rest well. Then it was an unseasonably hot night. His tummy made him colicky. I napped at around 1am, maybe 2, who knows. That's what gave me the strength to push myself until 6am, when he finally dozed off.

Anyway I am keen on getting Njeeh to sleep through the night because the night wakings are frustrating me. Last week Saturday I pinched him in his sides, hissing at him to stop crying.

 It was those wee hours, the hours of thick drug-like sleep. Zombie mode. I was pissed off because he had spent most of the day snoozed out – so why was he bothering us at night? I felt terrible. Gosh. He cried much harder after. Because it was painful. I pinched my three-week old baby, can you believe that? Forgive me, dear son. His skin reddened at that spot, it has only just cleared today. Sigh. I am so sorry.

Friday October 9, 2020. 11.08pm.

I wrote today, for Saturday Nation. And filed the copy. My mind was crisp as I wrote, crisp as a green apple. As an apple cider. It was like I had never left. I feel good. Deliriously good. I feel like myself again. I feel in control. That everything will be OK. I will keep writing and filing copy, just so I can chase this high again. Writing for a living is difficult. But on the days it goes well, on the days you get this high, like today, it’s nothing short of beautiful.

[email protected]; @_craftit.