I have had a baby, it is not going well; sadly because she is sleeping through the night at a freakish 5 weeks old, no one takes any of my problems seriously.
The baby is knackered but only naps if I rock her on my lap in a dark, silent room. I take to devouring eBooks on my iPhone, the first one I read is Room.
Room is incredible and, for a book set almost entirely in one room, unexpectedly thrilling. I read it during the hours and hours I am (at least voluntarily) trapped in a dark room with my child, not noticing the irony until it’s over and I start wondering if I could roll myself up in a rug and ask Chris to pop me outside on bin day.
I have been diagnosed with a post-natal hormone disorder and severe anxiety. Much of my hair has fallen out, I have awful skin and I sweat all the time. I am sent to a therapist who makes me download an app called iWorry Lite; I have to upgrade to the paid version after 24 hours because I have too many worries. Chris finds this darkly hilarious. The baby gets her first cold.
I like memoir audiobooks, mainly because you don’t lose the plot when you fall asleep (although I have, arguably, lost the plot). These two are my favourites; I listen to them over and over, Chris eventually buying me fancy low-profile Bluetooth headphones so that the baby doesn’t develop some kind of Pavlovian narcolepsy every time she hears David Mitchell on a panel show.
I am a little better. The baby sits up. I resign from my job and become oddly unmoored. I do an online writing class and read Sarah Crossan’s amazing One, all on my phone. Jim recommends I listen to Hamilton and I buy that too, so the whole month is spent in verse, with weird couplets running around my head.
I manage to make Hamilton’s massive political and ideological themes all about my ridiculous little life; I do need to rise up! I’m not stupid! I do think these pants look hot!
I fail to convince anyone else to get into Hamilton, so I rap Scottishly at the baby. My inner life has become strange but vast as my outer life has shrunk to mashing pears and inspecting poop.
We have moved to the motherland! On our first afternoon in our new town I run into an aunt, and the following day my dad visits and plays blocks with Ada. We put a tent in the garden and she laughs at the wind and pulls up fistfuls of grass. For the first time, I am parenting solo for most of the week; it’s not as bad as I expect. I get some writing work; Chris builds me a desk but I still do most of it one-thumbed on my phone.
I buy the new Star Wars film. I’ve been holding out for a quiet night to watch it on the big screen TV, but I’ve decided to watch it in snatches on my phone as the poorly baby clings to me in her sleep. It’s fine. It’s fun! Life is easier now I’ve accepted that Me Time comes in minutes and seconds rather than days and hours.
Now I’m watching Lady Dynamite, a hilarious Netflix show about Maria Bamford’s descent into and recovery from mental illness. I recognise her flashbacks like they are mine; the raggedy clothes, the exhaustion, the social awkwardness, the confused friends, the keen attempts to use therapy strategy in real life situations, the staring, the blue winter light. You must watch it! Except you, mum, it’s very rude.
I get a lot of flak, usually from older people, for always having my phone in my pocket or on the counter or in the baby’s drooling maw, but it has honestly saved my sanity many times over during this hardest of hard years. Get a good smartphone, pregnant ladies, you won’t regret it.