Who shed more tears? My baby, or me? Probably me. I was pretty clueless on practicalities changing a nappy, for example. Could you fold a towelling nappy to fit a tiny bottom, then stick a giant safety pin in - to the nappy, not the baby...? The arrival of disposal nappies coincided with the arrival of my third baby, by which time I was a little more clued up and had less time to worry about whether I was doing things right. The toughest thing about being a new mum was probably the tiredness from interrupted sleep at night and not being able to interpret what my baby was trying to say through her crying. Hence my tears.
The thing is, it's not the tears I remember now. I look at photos and dig into the recesses of my brain and what I see and recall are happy times - gummy grins, wobbly steps, first words. Baby isn't baby for long. Her gummy grins evolve into hearty laughter, tentative steps into running and jumping, and from 'Mumma' and'Dadda' new words are added and put into simple sentences. Before you know it you're discussing climate change, space exploration, the best tennis player ever (Laver? Federer?) and whether the two pieces of a halved worm can grow into two new worms (no, in case you're wondering.)
The first few days and weeks with a new baby may seem endless and exhausting at the time but are a tiny measure on the timeline of life. To some extent, I've relived my days as a new mum through the experiences of my daughters. On a shelf above my desk are photos of my five grandchildren. They range in age from 10 to 2 years and look at me with cheeky grins. Below them, on the desk, are photos of their parents who all look remarkably calm and happy though they've all had hair-tearing moments and testing times.
Two years or so ago I started writing down-to- earth prayers about being a new mum to give to one of my daughters. Scruffy scribbles were typed onto my laptop then sent as email hugs. My book, "Help! I'm a New Mum!" grew from there. If these short prayers encourage new mums to know that God is with them at every stage of life - when they're confident and when they're not, when they're in tears and when they're laughing, when they're asleep and when they're only half-asleep, then it's been worthwhile. God gives life. He also sustains us through all the changing scenes. All we have to do is say, "Help!" My days as a new mum are long past. My days of calling, "Help!" to God continue. Hindsight shows that I can also say, "Thank you," for his continuing presence in all circumstances.