Being a new mum is a rollercoaster ride filled with emotions, twists and turns that compares to nothing you’ve ever done before. With no pyjamas in sight Rachael Bland puts pen to paper to write her cheat sheet on life as a new mum.
1. Things do get better
My sister-in-law told me this in the early days and while you’re tag-teaming each other at 3am with a screaming baby in hand in the hope of getting a couple of hours sleep it may not seem like it but it WILL get better. They say after 6 weeks things improve…they lied. For us it took a little bit longer. But now as we sit there watching Homeland together of an evening instead of Baby TV, in the peace and quiet, those fully sleepless nights seem a long and distant memory.
2. Make the most of superwoman days
You will have days when everything goes well and doing a few, what would have been simple and mundane tasks pre-baby, will suddenly make you feel like superwoman. Just getting up, showered, dressed and maybe even putting on some makeup takes military style planning. If you can do that as well as feed yourself and the baby, walk the dog and tidy the house you will feel like super hero. Take, for example, the day I wrote this blog on a dictaphone app, whilst pushing the pram through a muddy country park and walking our golden retriever. You’ll feel like your other half should be awarding you with a medal when they get home from work. (You’ll be disappointed when they don’t.)
3. There will be days when you won’t feel like superwoman
These are the days when you won’t get out of your pyjamas and your other half will arrive home to not just the baby crying but also you, weeping into your 4th change of clothes that have either been weed, puked or pooped on.
4. Unwrap and read instructions for some of the many things you’ve bought before the baby comes
Just buying them all and leaving them in the cupboard does not mean you are prepared. It’s much harder to get a grip of instructions when you’ve got a small person wailing at 1000 decibels in your ear. I remember one particular low point when I’d been told to top-up our little boy’s feeds, I decided to try and express some milk for the first time late at night. Then I realised I hadn’t even opened the box of the breast pump let alone worked out how to use it. In my sleep deprived state I ended up washing some of the small but essential parts down the sink resulting in me sobbing uncontrollably whilst clutching a bewildered baby for an hour or two.
5. Appreciate your other half
They may not put the nappy on the way you do, shove the baby’s arms into their babygro the wrong way, wake the baby (you’ve just spent hours getting to sleep) with their sleep talking in the middle of the night. But there will be times at 4am in the morning as you both laugh – slightly hysterically – while cleaning baby poo off the nursery curtains that you’ll remember why this is the only person you’d want to be doing this with.
6. Make friends with people with babies
It’s really important to get yourself a good network of friends with babies of the same age. I met a fabulous group of girls through my NCT course and was lucky enough to have a couple of work friends have babies at around the same time too. These friends will become invaluable and will save your sanity. Just as you’re thinking you’ve given birth to some sort of devil baby that won’t sleep, cries for no reason and creates some unbelievable looking nappies…a WhatsApp message will appear from one of them going through exactly the same thing. It will make you feel a lot better and help you realise your baby is just normal!
7. Your baby is just normal
They’re not sleeping enough/they’re sleeping too much. They’re not pooing enough/they’re pooing too much. They’re not feeding enough/they’re feeding too much. All babies do different things, try not to compare them or worry too much about what yours does or doesn’t do. I’ve come to realise the spectrum of normal when it comes to babies is enormous.
8. Google can be both friend and foe
Googling ‘Why won’t my baby sleep??’ and reading endless arguments on mother’s forums about the relative merits and drawbacks of sleep training vs. attachment parenting will just drive you insane. Step away and just do what feels right for you and your family. However, sometimes google can be a good thing. After discovering a couple of small lumps on the back of our little boy’s head I was sent into a panic and booked a doctors appointment. But a quick consultation with Google told me they were just glands and surprise, surprise NORMAL.
9. You will become one of those people that posts a lot of baby pictures on Facebook
It can’t be helped. Just embrace it. Those who do want to see another picture of your gorgeous little cherub dressed as a Christmas elf will love it. Those that don’t? It’s what Facebook invented the unfollow button for.
10. You will love your troublesome little bundle more than anything. Ever.
It’s a cliche and people will tell you it many times before baba arrives but nothing actually does prepare you for the overwhelming love you will feel for the little person who comes along and turns your world on its head. I was worried pre-birth that I wouldn’t be a good mother or that I wouldn’t love the baby right away. But from the moment he arrived, it was like he’d always been there and I’d always been waiting to be his mummy. Now we can’t imagine life without him.
NB On returning from the aforementioned ‘blog writing walk’ feeling like superwoman I had to google ‘Baby just weed in his mouth’ thus neatly illustrating points 2, 3 and 8.