Balancing Act

The other day I realised – I mean, properly realised – that I try to do too much. Like most people, I juggle a lot of different things at once, from housekeeping and exercise to working full time and blogging along the way. I’ve always known that I’m like this (mostly because objects go flying across the room as I turn too quickly to get the other thing done), and quite often I’ll burn myself out, ending up very run down and unable to do much – physically or mentally – other than watch Netflix on the sofa for a day or two. I know that many of my friends and colleagues are the same, and they too just keep going until their body tells them enough is enough. The thing is, we don’t learn – the cycle continues and we go round the merry-go-round, answering emails when we should be chatting to our friends.

But a couple of weeks ago I had a bit of a wake up call. It was a moment that showed me that I really do need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I love to multi task – we all gotta get sh*t done – but when you almost drop your eight week old baby, you know all the other stuff isn’t worth it.

I have never considered myself a control freak, nor am I a particularly tidy person, or a cleaning obsessive. But having a baby has made me realise that I actually do like to be in control, even if it’s just managing the laundry or plumping my cushions just so. How did I learn this? Because having a baby takes up ALL OF YOUR TIME and in those first few weeks while I was busy feeding and hushing my newborn, washing and sterilising his bottles (when you’re working in 2-3 hours shifts, this is pretty much all you can get done), I discovered how on edge I became just by being unable to find the time to put a load of washing on or hoover or write. So the I-almost-dropped-the-baby episode was a bit of an eye opener.

I was out for lunch and NCM needed to be changed, so off to the disabled loo I went. (An aside, and probably another sign of my weird compulsive behaviour, I really don’t like that baby changing facilities are within toilets – even though, essentially, baby is just going to the loo like the rest of us. I’m being weird, I know.)

After a few minutes of carefully placing the baby on the travel changing mat on top of the folding changing table, with the nappy, wipes, Sudocrem, and nappy sack positioned strategically around the baby (why is there no space to put your things?), I got to work. He was so happy, gurgling contentedly and smiling widely at me as I took his legs out of his baby grow, tickling his socked feet here and there, and unsnapped the nappy. It was gross and everywhere so we grabbed his wee legs and started cleaning up. Thanks to the lack of space I was fumbling around being rather inefficient and, eventually – and somewhat inevitably – the poo ended up all over his vest. Being the secret control freak it turns out I am, I decide to take his vest off. Not simple given our surroundings. Before I knew what was happening, NCM peed a fountain so impressive that it shot upwards, gravity pulling it down faster than it went up, the pee pooling under his bum, soaking into the already poo-y vest.

They tell you babies can sense their parents’ stress so I tried hard not to get worked up. Breathe, I thought. I drew a deep breath, regained my composure, and pulled off his baby grow, unsurprisingly disturbing him and his happy demeanour. As I got to peeling away the sodden, soiled vest, he rapidly turned a distinct shade of pink before opening his tiny mouth to emit an enormous wail. It was fine, I thought. Determined to get the horrible vest off and the perfectly selected baby grow back on (well, he had to finish our lunch date looking as cute as when he arrived, yes?), I assumed the wailing would stop once he was clothed.

For the most part I was right – thankfully, he calmed down and the screaming diffused into less alarming, albeit red-faced, hiccuping complaints. I worked quickly, first clearing the poo (we lost a sock to that poo somewhere along the way), then mopping up the pool of baby pee, finally, and unsuccessfully, wringing out his changing mat over the loo. Annoyed by the lack of space and surfaces available, I lost my cool – I became stressed and rather red in the face myself. The disgusting vest was flung into the bin in a fury, the sodden mat stuffed into a nappy sack, the baby scooped up. As I balanced NCM in one arm, I gathered my bits and bobs in the other. Of course, I dropped the changing bag.

In my frustrated state I leaned, as I would have done pre-baby, to pick up the bag. Just as I did, he exercised his neck muscles, flinging himself backwards over my arm and towards the hard, grotty toilet floor. It happened in slow motion and yet seemed to speed up at the same time. The realisation that he was going backwards, falling, made me instinctively lift my arm to pull him close – but the swift movement brought his head back too quickly, his little body as out of control as my mind was. Thankfully, he was totally fine and not at all phased by the whole thing. Me? I was left panicked and guilt ridden, totally overcome with emotion and completely ashamed.

The moment was utterly ghastly. But it reminded me that life can’t always be controlled, and it isn’t perfect. I need to let some things go. Just not the baby, even if he is covered in poo.

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