Sunday, 5 July 2015

south bank


When Freddie was three months old I ventured back into the Smoke. I was DESPERATE to go back to London. I was so homesick for it.

We moved out of London just before Freddie was born thinking that it would be a better idea for him to have more space, clean air, schools better yadda yadda yadda. But, in hindsight we should have stayed. At least until we had to start thinking about schools, and even then there is much about how schools in London are improving so much that some are now the best in the country. 

Having my first baby made me feel like I had been run over by a train. It wasn't just the physical - 2l of blood loss, near death experience, anaemia, general what-the-fuckness about giving birth, it was the mental side that punched me harder than Muhammed Ali on steroids.

Sudden loss of freedom and of independence. Huge, huge responsibility for a human being! With no instructions! It's like being made CEO of a Big Deal Company when you have no experience and are still in primary school. I felt completely out of my depth and it was very very frightening.

I couldn't switch off. There was a small person, effectively like a wild animal in my eyes, who I had no idea how to read or look after. I just waited for bated breathe for the next howl, wondering what to do. Many people told me "oh you will know what to do, it will come naturally". It didn't for me. I loved this small person but I was also frightened of him.

In hindsight it is easy to say I shouldn't have worried so much. I should have relaxed more. Everything is just a phase. But instead I turned into a google monster. Googling everything to do with babies and THINGS.THAT.COULD.WRONG. How much should babies cry?Why is he crying so much? Is it normal he cries so much?  What if he had silent reflux? Should I use a dummy? Will his speech be delayed if I use a dummy? How do I use a sling? Which sling should I use? What do I do if my baby hates a sling? I want to be a natural parenting mother but it appears my baby does not like me anyway I try to parent him.

I mourned for my old life. I mourned for routine and sleep and knowing what I was doing. I didn't feel like me anymore. I didn't know who I was. I felt so jealous of my husband whose life had stayed relatively the same. He hadn't given birth and he didn't have to breastfeed and he went back to work as normal.

I felt like I had to learn to do easy things again, like a child would. Going for a walk, entering a shop, driving the car. All these tasks seemed too huge and momentous to do anymore with a baby attached to me. Going for a run was just out of the question. Even having a bath was very difficult to do.

So when I blearily opened my eyes out of the first three months of chaos and felt confident enough to go up to London with Freddie it was a VERY BIG DEAL. It was a huge milestone for me. I felt quite invincible. Look at me managing to travel up to our capital city with a 12 week old! I had mixed feelings about being in London. It felt great on the one hand. Everything was so familiar and exciting. But on the the other hand it felt completely different. I was not the same person that left London four months ago. I had Freddie to think about and it was a bit daunting thinking about where I could feed and change him. It was London through a new pair of glasses.

Handily my train comes into London Bridge, which means it's walkable to the Southbank. The Southbank is great for children. There are lots of family friendly restaurants (Nandos was our choice) and the Tate and Southbank Centre are fab for small people, as is "just" wandering up and down the parade.

I really didn't do much at all on my first visit in, but you forget how tiring it all is (I was also amazed at how busy London felt). I hope to do more things in London as Freddie gets older, and if we have another baby I hope that I would have more confidence to make the most of all the wonderful free things going on, and not worry as much about breastfeeding in public or a crying baby. People love babies. London felt different as a mother, but it also felt much friendlier. People talk to you!

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