Two days after Adam returned to work, I had the most magical maternity leave day. The kind I’ll always remember.
It was a Friday. The sun was shining. We made it out for a walk before lunch – our first lunch together; just him and I. I grabbed a coffee and a cookie to go from my local bakery. Frida was with us as well. We didn’t have a specific goal in mind; were just meandering. We were a small team, and I was the captain.
We walked up Gammel Kongevej. Stumbled into Lille Stadfeldt, one of my favourite local children’s clothing stores. I bought two little woollen outfits, replied proudly that he was 16 days of age, when the sales assistant asked. I’d never taken him shopping before. It meant something. That he wasn’t just a dream to prepare or hope for. Now, I was shopping for a little human, who was there with me. I had a huge amount of energy; ‘GOOD day to you!’ and yay hurray moving on. Frida, Eddie and myself. And stroller, of course. Without spilling my coffee!
We entered Frederiksberg Have. Started out with a small break on a green bench in the sun under a withered magnolia tree. Oh well, it was just sixteen days after the birth. Everything felt tired. Ate my salted cookie. To gain some energy. Frida was happy. We got up and went around the outermost rim of the labyrinth to start. Circled inwards to the ponds. Crossed bridges. The garden was golden! Mid-October. The leaves were yet to give in – they were still glistening so neatly in the sunlight. I felt so free. I can easily be a mum. And then he was hungry so I sat down on a bench to breastfeed. In the middle of a sunbeam. And Frida hopped up on the bench to join in. Up onto my lap. And then I was sitting there with two lumps of love, and people were smiling at us. ‘How lovely it looks.’ And then we continued for a bit and exited the park and went down Frederiksberg Allé. I was one of them. The ones with a stroller. With a baby. And in Aniel, where I’d never been before, I purchased a maternity present for a friend and a little woollen babygrow. Having kids is just as much of a conversation starter as a pregnant belly. ‘Aaw, how old is he?’ I confidently let him sleep in the stroller outside the shop, but no more than two feet away from me. And then we went home. Told Adam about the entire experience, proud to the bone, when he came home.
I did it all on my own. A three-hour stroll. Walking the dog. Breastfeeding al fresco. The sun had been shining upon us. I had been listening to podcasts, laughing to myself. It was the splitting image I’d had of a day on maternity leave. In my dreams. And I got it. And I will cherish the memory forever. The feeling of having been born to do this. Created to be a mum. I can do anything.
And then there are the more common days. Especially of late. Where I don’t get to brush my teeth until late in the afternoon. Where I only get to take a shower when Adam is home. Or just skip it altogether (once again). Where I’m carrying an unhappy baby in my arms. Shushing, swaddling, bouncing. Putting on some soft piano music or white noise on the app. Where I’m breastfeeding and breastfeeding. Three times an hour. Hour after hour. Where I only get to go to the bathroom when he’s in his wrap. Where I live off Digestives, leftovers or food delivered to the door because I don’t have my hands free to do anything.
I have an unhappy little boy, who is crying most of the time. He is unhappy through and through, and only wants to sleep when he’s sleeping on top of me. And he doesn’t want to sleep for more than twenty minutes at a time. And honestly? I’m relieved when Adam gets home. Because then I can pass him on and have a toilet break. And then I may cry for a bit. Because I’m so tired. And because I have to do it all tomorrow again.
But I also know that all of it has an end. That he will find himself and find peace. That his nervous system will calm down. That he’ll go through his leap. That I’ll once again get to experience a day with confidence and the feeling of freedom. I’m doing all of the right things, but just like I landed in the role as mum on that Friday, he also needs some time to land in this world, in his body and in his little mind. So, I’ll happily do it all over again tomorrow.