When I was a first-time mum at home with a new bub I was adrift. I’d gone from a full-time full-on job with lots of contact with other people to – well – nothing. I was the first of my set to have a baby, my husband worked full time, I didn’t have a lot of contact with my neighbours. I was, in short, lonely.
I went to the health nurse every week, religiously. Even though my baby was perfectly healthy. Even though I had no problems looking after him, the breastfeeding happened.
I only stopped when she kindly said one day “You know, you don’t have to come every week. You’re doing a good job.”
That day as I walked back home pushing my son in his stroller, I reflected on how dependant I’d become on this regular weekly outing. How much I needed an independent witness to my motherhood. How much I needed that witness to tell me I was doing a good job.
I hadn’t had any contact with babies before apart from fleeting glimpses of other people’s babes. I wasn’t the maternal type. I didn’t yearn to pick up and cuddle them. I was the type of person who handed the baby back or on at the earliest opportunity and now here I was the 24/7 carer of this little human unit.
With no frame of reference – how was I to know if he was okay? If I was okay? If I was a good mother?
Happily last year I met her again. She’s retired now. I wished I’d had my little baby with me to show her that he survived into teenagerhood. But of course there was no need. She had enough faith in me to know he’d be okay.