People will fall over themselves to try to give you advice when you’re expecting your first baby. It can seem so overwhelming and frankly, I found that most of the advice just went in one ear and out the next. I made my own way, as all other new mothers do, and I found what worked for me. But there are a few things I really wish I’d known (or at the very least, taken note of) in those baffling first months:
That you cannot plan your delivery (and should try to put it behind you as soon as you can)
I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth repeating. There is no way of knowing when or how your baby will arrive into the world. Not that I’m saying a birth plan is pointless; it’s great to know roughly how you’d like it to go and to discuss each stage with your midwife but I wish I’d been told not to expect my experience to mirror my plan.
If breastfeeding doesn’t work out it’s really not the end of the world
I thought that I would breastfeed, no problems, until it suited me to stop. I had no idea that I wouldn’t physically be able to do it. I had made no attempt to find out how to make up a bottle of formula, just in case. I soon realised that the only thing that matters is whether your baby is feeding and gaining weight.
The tired. Oh, so tired
My mother said “You’ve never known tired until you’ve had a baby” and I told her “I’ve been to work on a bad hangover, Ma, I do know tired”. I should have listened to her. You can never prepare for that level of exhaustion but if I’d been wise to the sheer extent of sleep deprivation that I was about to be faced with, I’d have slept my way through the final trimester.
Spending money on equipment/toys/anything is really, really stupid
Babies are only interested in playing with the most garish, repulsive, plastic tat. My daughter’s most favourite thing in the world for her first year was not the beautiful wooden horse that sat proudly in the playroom but the orange, plastic, second-hand, Fisher-Price rocking chair with wipe-clean seat. It had a dreadful musical ditty that kept her amused for hours. Infinitely superior to any expensive bouncer I had previously tried to wedge her into.
That some days are hideous – for every new mother
I know it’s not the done thing to be too negative when you’re so blessed with a little family, but I wish I’d taken on board the crucial fact that every new mother has dreadful days when your patience wears very thin and it all gets on top of you. But that’s okay because tomorrow we can start again!
That EVERYTHING is a phase
“This too soon shall pass,” should be your mantra. But warning: this can apply to the good bits too and before you know it they’ll be independent little toddlers with no interest in holding your hand.
That what works for someone else’s baby might not work for your baby
It’s useless comparing your baby with someone else’s – unless you actually want to depress yourself.
That every week more things make sense
Seven weeks in, I was sinking. I’d only recently been discharged from hospital, had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t know if I was supposed to love or loathe Gina Ford. I had thought before my daughter arrived that there was a one-size-fits-all ‘formula’ to bringing up a baby. As soon as I stopped trying to do what everyone else told me was gospel, I relaxed a bit and enjoyed the challenge of finding the secret workings of MY OWN baby’s inner thoughts.
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