Picture the scene: It’s three-thirty in the morning and I’m awake, feeding the baby for the fifth time since I went to bed. His eyelids flutter closed and I lower him gently into bed. The moment his back hits the mattress, his eyes open and he starts to cry. Biting back a sob of exhaustion, I pick him up and start the slow trudge back and forth across the bedroom. It’s about now that I truly comprehend the phrase ‘tearing your hair out’. If he doesn’t stay asleep this time, I might actually do that.
If ever there is a time that I question my post-baby sanity, the wee small hours are definitely up there. But it isn’t just the stressful moments which make me wonder if I’m losing the plot; there have been many quiet, thoughtful interludes when I’ve found myself at breaking point for no discernible reason. I cry with very little provocation, and snap at my husband for even less, all the while muttering under my breath like a milk-stained version of Gollum. Sometimes, it’s all I can do to make myself some toast in the morning and stare zombie-like at Homes Under The Hammer. I don’t remember feeling like this with my first baby (although it was a long time ago now – maybe I’ve blocked it out) and I’m starting to wonder – does having a baby send you a little bit crazy?
I’m not talking about the much-discussed, does-it-or-doesn’t-it-exist phenomenon that is Baby Brain (although when I find myself unable to finish a sentence because I can’t remember the word for the wossname, it does drive me mad). And please don’t think I’m describing post-natal depression, because I definitely don’t have anything as soul destroyingly awful as that. I’m just aware of a general, low-level mental imbalance, which means I don’t really feel like me. In my former life, I like to think I was highly organised, independent and ambitious. Now, I’m happy to let my day drift by having achieved nothing more than some cheese on toast and a happy baby.
I’m sure it’s all easily explained by hormones and sleep deprivation but I think it might be all part of Mother Nature’s plan to ensure mothers forget about everything except looking after their baby. My cotton wool brain certainly makes me more inclined to focus on my son and forget about more daunting tasks, like writing novels or brushing my teeth. Maybe, like sleepless nights and round the clock feeds, this feeling of not playing with a full set of stacking cups will pass. I hope so, my precious, I really do. Or I might start to look like Gollum too.