Updated: Jun 14, 2019
When I look back at seven years ago, I realize that becoming a Mother was the Big Bang to my own Universe. I had read all the books, I had attended all the antenatal classes, I had successfully breastfed a plastic doll, the nursery was ready and the bags were packed.
I was as prepared as I could ever be… with my picture perfect birth plan.
I remember when labour finished and I held baby#1 (Dragon Ryder) for the first time. It was a sense of pure bliss, when you feel in your skin the power that Nature has given to you. Then the midwife spoke about breastfeeding…
That was IT: the instant when I realized that I had been so worried about surviving labour that I hadn’t thought of the colossal job ahead of me. The Big Bang moment, when reality smashed into my hospital room with an explosion of planets, satellites, asteroids, stars, debris and dust.
I didn’t want to go home. The midwife handed me the tiny and fragile new-born with a sentence I will never forget: “There are 100 ways to raise a child, and only one of them is the wrong way. As long as you keep her safe, you’ll be ok.”
Theories are just words, putting them into practice was not that easy.
Dragon Ryder was what you would call a “difficult” baby, ticking all the boxes of the unsettled child: impossible to feed, impossible to calm down, impossible to get to sleep.
In my first year as a Mom, I learned that sleep deprivation can push your body and your mind to the abyss. I discovered that you can be surrounded by family and friends and feel drowned by loneliness. I understood the relentless nature of motherhood and the true meaning of sacrifice. Yes, I felt blessed to have my baby and at the same time I was an unhappy Mum.
At the end of that first year, Dragon Ryder was not sleeping more than 45 minutes at a time. I remember waking up every morning wanting to throw the towel in, only to realize that this was perhaps the only thing in my life I could not quit. And then, when I was truly at the end of my rope - when I could not possibly be more physically and mentally exhausted, my husband managed to put the baby to sleep… for the first time in 364 days.
What did HE do?
He spent one hour rocking the baby with a vigorous and relentless motion while singing Tom Petty’s lullaby “It’s alright for now” on repeat.
That was IT. That was the moment when I realized that there was a way out of the black hole I had been traveling through. That was the moment when I realized that as parents, my husband and I would find “the system” that would work for us, and only for us. One of the 99 ways the midwife was talking about. That was the moment when I realized that having a baby had been a Big Bang for us, now it was time to clear the debris and the dust and start looking at the millions of stars in front of us.
I can see that my first year of motherhood made me a stronger person. Seven years later “Alright for now” is still our lullaby to put the children to sleep. Not only because it’s one of the most tender songs we’ve ever heard. But also because it reminds me of those times when I felt I couldn’t survive one more day, and I did.
It’s alright for now - Tom Petty
Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love
May God watch over you from above
Tomorrow I'm workin', what would I do?
I'd be lost and lonely if not for you
So close your eyes
We're alright, for now
I've spent my life travelin', spent my life free
I could not repay all you've done for me
So sleep tight baby, unfurrow your brow
And know I love you, we're alright for now
We're alright for now.
Anna is a journalist and a mother of three children under the age of 7, Dragon Ryder, Gecko Princess and Baby Anaconda. She spends most of her week being a stay-out-of-home Mum to tire her three energetic girls while she thinks and writes about the joys and struggles of parenting.