Why I'm glad my newborn needed to be held all day long

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

It's a cliché, but nothing could have prepared me for motherhood.

I tried to prepare. While I was pregnant, I read all the books and went to the prenatal class at the hospital. I listened to all the advice from family, friends and even the middle-aged man waiting beside me at the local Chinese takeaway.

So, I knew I would be feeding, burping, and changing nappies around the clock. I knew I wouldn't get much sleep. I knew the baby would cry. But what the books and classes and overly helpful sages didn't prepare me for was the fact that I would be holding my new bundle of joy all day. 

Quite literally, all day. 

Why did I have to hold her all day? Because if I wasn't holding her, she would cry. She also wouldn't nap unless she was in my arms. But as it turns out, having my baby girl constantly attached to me ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.

I didn't initially feel this way. I thought there must be something wrong with her, or more so something I was doing wrong.

After all, she wasn't always like this. The first five days were great! She barely cried. I felt like an absolute boss. 

Then it started. 

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Doctors call it colic, or purple crying. Frazzled mums in online forums label the babies high needs, or even dragons.

Basically, these terms describe a baby who is perfectly healthy but cries for hours through the day for no identifiable reason. 

I found if I held her upright while gently bouncing myself up and down, she would calm down. She was also happy while breastfeeding and would drift off to sleep in my arms as she drank. But as soon as I laid her in her cot, she would wake up screaming.

I relayed this to my GP. Her advice? "Just walk away." That's nice in theory but the reality was hearing my baby scream while every one of my instincts told me to pick her up. 

So, I surrendered. I held her in my arms while she slept. And I started to find things to do while she was sleeping.

I read books, watched TV, and meditated. The key was to get prepared before sitting down to feed her. So, I made sure I had gone to the toilet; I had snacks and water within arm's reach, also the TV remote and whatever I was reading at the time. 

While my daughter snoozed on me I read countless books, discovered the joy of daytime TV, and meditated so much that I could quickly slip into a euphoric, trance like state.

Perhaps the best part of it was not what I was doing but what I didn't have to do because my hands were full.

My husband would come home from work while I was watching The Chase with our sleeping beauty in my arms and he would cook dinner. When my Mum came to visit, she would do the laundry and tidy up. I upgraded from our firm couch to a comfy rocking chair and sat there like a Queen on her throne.

As those early months passed by, my baby's intense crying eased off and eventually she became too big to hold in my arms all day. But I would still lay beside with her in my bed while she slept. By this point we had subscribed to Netflix and I managed to watch the entire series of Mad Men during her naps. 

Just before her second birthday, I gave birth to twin boys and daily life became hectic. One of the twins was a purple crier too but I just couldn't hold him all day while I had a toddler and another newborn to attend to. So, I popped him in a sling and got on with things. 

My little girl is nearly four years old now. The day sleeps are mostly over, and the cuddles are fewer.

Life is so full on now, with three under four, and while I wouldn't have it any other way, I am so grateful for those early months with my daughter where I was forced to just slow down and enjoy the moment.

I know it's another cliché, but they really do grow so fast.