Baby is nine months old, and I have no idea how much she weighs. It’s not a big deal – she’s very clearly happy, healthy, eating us out of house and home, and we have a Plunket appointment next month for her 9-12 month checkup. But it’s been nagging at me a little, and making me reflect on how it feels like the supports that have surrounded us since before she was born are on a real decline.
And that’s not really a big deal either because we’re still surrounded by friends and family and community. We’re in a really privileged position, being able to have one parent at home full-time (and to have me work from home a few days a week). My mum lives only a half-hour away, J’s family visit regularly.
But before she was born, there was our amazing midwife. Always there, literally at any time of the day or night if we needed her. One person who knew us intimately and had a huge amount of experience and knowledge to calm any anxieties we had (and there are so, so many anxieties). Our antenatal classes connected us to a bunch of people expecting babies at literally the same time as ours, and more experts on things like feeding and sleeping.
Once she was born, there were the hospital midwives and surgeons and Plunket, and once they found her heart condition, the entire NICU team swept in, with nurses and more doctors and social workers. We got enrolled in Heart Kids and put in touch with Parent to Parent. We were back at the hospital for a weight check every week for the first two months of her life.
At the same time, the antenatal group kept going, with group chats and coffee catch ups. It meant so much, sitting in the dark at 2am feeding a jaundiced little bub, to be able to type “god I’m so tired, anyone else up?” and have three other mums respond.
It’s a bit redundant to say things change over time. Of course, once baby had her surgery and recovered like a complete champ, we weren’t going to need all those checkups. Of course, Plunket doesn’t have to be dropping in quite so often once you’ve nailed those early milestones. And naturally, as paid parental leave starts to finish up, people go back to work and schedules become more complicated and those weekly coffee catch ups become harder to coordinate.
I’d never go back to those early weeks when everything was new and completely terrifying and we desperately needed to have all those people on the end of the phone to reassure us and get us additional support. But I do miss the security net, and the sense of a whole community focused on one thing: a happy healthy baby. It feels like you lose that support in little bits and pieces, and sometimes – like when you look at baby’s WellChild book and realise you don’t know how much she weighs – it hits you all at once.