NEWBORNS AND THE ART OF MULTITASKING

NEWBORNS AND THE ART OF MULTITASKING

Exactly 18 days ago I gave birth to Jimmy… a 4.11kg, 54cm baby bundle of chub! It was a looonngg labour. The little fella was posterior, so he took a while to turn himself in the right direction… In any case, without boring you with the gory details of his entry into the world (i am still traumatised), he eventually made an appearance at 11:25pm on Friday 15th August.

Since then, life has been a blur. There have been more tears and tantrums than I can count on two hands, and that’s just from me.

Breastfeeding is a tough gig. Its amazing that so many women persevere and stick to it for the long haul… I’m only 2 weeks in and already dreaming of the days when Jimmy is bottle fed and I can be free to pass him off to babysitters and go and do stuff without worrying when he will next wake and demand boob. Its painful, its boring and its relentless. A new mum really is just a slave to a tiny human… And most of all, it requires patience.. which I am finding extremely trying – but it is a great skill to master nonetheless.

I have always been a working girl. I’m one of those people that thrives on being busy. Not just a little busy, but on the cusp of being overwhelmingly busy. Then when I creep over that cusp, I become insane and the complaining and tantrums start… so I usually find myself toeing the line between super busy and insanity. Anything less than super busy and I find that I’m idle. Needless to say, the four weeks of maternity leave that I took prior to the birth I had listed a huge number of tasks to tick off – both practical tasks and some just for fun. I completed all of them, and then Jimmy arrived. But I also spent a lot of time thinking about life with a baby, and what it would mean for my earning capacity and work-life satisfaction in the months after his birth.

I work in an industry that is rarely nine-to-five. It is more often than not twice that, and you really do have to love it to be willing to work long hours and be available 24/7 for team members and clients. Fitting that around a baby that is also demanding of your time 24/7 can seem unfathomable.. particularly for your employer, not matter how supportive they want to be of your new role in life. So where does this leave a new mum that needs to return to work in order to support a new family member? How can they convince employers who are also business owners that they are worthy of a full time gig and that they will still contribute as much as they did pre-baby…

Multitasking. That is how. It has now become abundantly clear why women were built with much better multitasking capabilities than males…

I am only 2 weeks into this new role as mum… but I am starting to learn to function on 3hrs sleep a night. That has already started to feel normal – as good a night’s sleep as I can remember pre-birth anyway. I have just finished my first freelance copywriting brief – half of it was done with Jimmy attached to my boob. The other half done when he’d crashed out on my chest after his feed. Sure, it was only 500 words of copy, but still, I managed to craft it and revise it and restructure it as much as I would have without a baby attached to my boob. And I hit my deadline.w

I’m starting to see how this just might be possible. With a supportive partner (seriously, he is THE best!), an effective breast pump and a sense of humour… I might just be able to return to work… almost at full throttle. Just don’t expect me to look any good while I’m doing it!

I’ll park this post right here and revisit in a few more months.. and see if I still feel the same. I can already hear the other mum’s out there chuckling at my naivety and ignorance.. but lets just see hey… every mum’s experience is different… and I want to remain optimistic! You’ve gotta crawl before you can walk after all…

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Jacquie
Jacquie is a digital producer, expat living and working in Singapore and first time mum to Jimmy
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    The early mothns My girls are now 21 mothns old, and I can barely remember the early mothns. But the bits I do remember are clear.I don’t remember their first feeds at all. I remember the first feed for my older two (singletons). I have pictures of the first feed for each of my twin daughters, and the first time I managed to tandem feed them, that same day but I don’t remember it at all. Given how foggy my memory is of the first few mothns, that’s a small sorrow, but an expected one. At least I have the pictures. I remember being astonished that a football hold not only worked for one, it worked for both. Neither of my older ones could stand football hold. Then astonished again when I could use hold after hold and they put up with the contortions. But hey, after all, they’d been squashed up against each other all along, I guess that would be normal for them. I remember in the first days, identifying them by their nursing style as much as anything else. Meriel was the shark’ she’d lunge at my breast, mouth wide, and chomp hard. I’d have to detach her a few times to get her latch right, because she was too fast for me. She’d get it right if I left her alone and let her figure it out, though. Trying to help too much made her frustrated. She could get there fine on her own, thanks! Rowan, however, wanted to be helped, held and supported, into position. Her latch was more gentle, but also a bit on the easygoing’ side lip in, lip out, whatever. Her muscle tone was low-ish, and she just couldn’t get there without help, but didn’t seem to mind the interference. I had to fix her lips over and over and over. Those general attributes still describe their personalities very well. I remember having to chart Rowan’s feeds carefully, because she developed jaundice, enough to have a bili-light tethering her to the nearest power outlet for a few days. She looked like a glow worm, greenish light glowing through her shirt. Tracking the feeds was challenging, with two eating on their own schedules. It was also very important, as I found I was forgetting who ate last, and which side. I became more anxious that I’d forget one for a few hours but reassured by having the log to check back on, since my memory was so hazy.I remember the visiting nurse looking around my bedroom, on the first followup checkup for the jaundice, and wondering what she thought of our big bed, the two snuggle nest’ beds lined up on one corner, the EZ2Nurse2 pillow still buckled around my waist. My newest babies were just a few days old, and I was awash in hormones, and more tired than I could have imagined and yet, less wiped out’ than I thought I’d be, likely running on hormones and adrenaline. In other words, likely to be sensitive to judgement. Fortunately, she was all for anything that helped me breastfeed longer. She laughed outright when she realized the end-table next to the bed was actually a dorm fridge. Fully stocked, so I didn’t even have to get out of bed to feed my breastfeeding-twins-starvation. I remember thinking the two of them were so tiny, and fragile, and floppy. My older two had been much bigger, even though the girls’ were quite normal sized (6 lbs 10 oz and 7 lbs 6 oz). I remember feeling an almost painful urgency for them to grow, needing them to get big from my milk (though I’m sure that feeling is the same no matter how you feed them!). I remember sitting in the recliner, nursing pillow in place, knit blankies propping little baby hineys to keep them from sliding anywhere at all, my step-mom handing me a sandwich over their heads, and me having to hold my elbows out to the sides to eat it without bonking the babies. Brushing crumbs off my front, and picking them off the sleeves of my little ones fallen asleep at the breast.I guess I remember enough. Enough to know that I succeeded in part because I had the equipment I needed, and that was because I had the support I needed, and that was in no small part because I asked.The support was as simple as my DH stocking the fridge, as broad as friends who would pitch in to buy me a minifridge, as deep as my family members committing to driving almost an hour each way just to be there when I asked, every week. Humbling, but then just asking for the help in the first place was humbling. The WIC billboards around here say loving support makes breastfeeding work’ don’t I know it! That, at least, I remember very clearly.

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