Having a baby is a weird and wonderful thing, It has been something I have wanted ever since I can remember. and I feel immensely privileged to have been able to have my little tike. So many people don't who long to, not quite sure why it has happened to me, but I am grateful for it everyday. And I can say, a year on, I love being a Mum, I feel like I was born to do it.
In some ways the shock of having a newborn wasn't as much as i thought it would be, I had braced myself for this almighty change that everyone tells you, 'you can't ever prepare yourself for'. I found it just as i thought it would be i think. I was sleep deprived, but deeply satisfied. I'm not sure weather the years of having CFS had prepared me for coping with life being clouded by fatigue, but I seemed to navigate the first few months kind of ok, and definitely better than I had expected. I was fine with spending lots of time in my pyjamas, it was nice to have a reason for it. For once I felt like I wasn't abnormal feeling exhausted and not getting dressed til midday. That's what all first time Mums do isn't it ? Willow fed lots, the nipples cracked ( the people who say breastfeeding only hurst at first if you'r doing it 'wrong' are liars ), Dad retreated to the spare room in a bid for at least one of us to be sleeping, and the lovely visitors arrived with presents ! - I loved the presents :)
Those first few months are so very special, lots of cuddles, I loved the cuddles. Willow spent many hours asleep lying on my chest, I wasn't in too much of a rush to put her in her own bed, I knew this time would be fleeting, the night feeds, cuddles, and shushing, I wanted to treasure it, even if in hinds sight it probably made me unwell. I'd still do it again.
Willow was never really a screamer, if she was being cuddled, she was very content. So I just went with that, and it worked, contrary to popular opinion, she did learn to sleep in her own bed, did sleep through the night ( although she has lately changed that plan), and her Dad is firmly sleeping in our bed again. The luxury of the first baby is you can do all this, not sure how it'll be if another one arrives, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Willow wanted to be close to me, why wouldn't she? she spent 9 months inside me - how weird is that !!?? really really weird. Why wouldn't she want to sleep with her ear on my chest where she could hear the familiar sound of my heart beat, she knew it's sound far better than I have ever heard it.
But the newborn months don't last long, then came weaning. And around this time, about february, lots of things kind of fell apart a bit. The fatigue became debilitating. Life got really really hard. Friends helped, meals were provided, family stepped in and we got through, just about. At times I really did feel like I was going to go a bit mad, I stopped sleeping and the fear of never being able to look after my child as the fatigue overwhelmed me, became unbearable. I'll never know if it was delayed PND, the stress of moving just before giving birth, or just the plain old difficulty of having a baby, breastfeeding and caring for a child when my energy was already a lot lower than 'normal', I'll never know. But true to the cliche, I do feel stronger having lived through that time, and to some extent have come out the other side. Does it make me scared of ever going through that again, that nasty stage where my body cries out in exhuastion that I have created another person, squeezed it out, fed it and tending to it 24/7, yes it does. It really does.
There have been little holidays, her first paddle in a welsh river, a trip to the beach, baths in the paddling pool in the garden. Lots of fun at Nan's house, and trying to eat tadpoles in the pond and my parents. She has had a good first year I think, so many people who love her and want to make her happy.
The best part about her first year, is that I haven't gone through it alone. I, and she, are very fortunate not just to be 2. There are 3 in our immediate family- the family who live in our house. But there are lots more who contribute in love, time and energy.
I loved her first birthday. It was so much better than I had anticipated. My energy is still very limited, so I had prepared myself for it being a bit of a non event. But the sun shone, and the CFS monster allowed me to have a few lovely celebrations. I created her first birthday cake, tesco made the sponge and the icing, i just put it together and made it look pretty, the fun part i guess ! She did get to wear the lovely dress I wanted her to, she attempted to blow out her candle, and when she went to bed that night. I really did feel a sense of achievement.