BiP is almost a year old so the posts over the next few weeks may have a nostalgic hint to them. My mummy-to-be friend PigletinFrance is expecting her first baby in just a week or 2 (or 3 or maybe even 4!) and talking to her its taken me back to the same time last year when I was in exactly the same position of anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first baby, BiP.
Here are 8 things I wish someone had told me about becoming a new mother (some people did tell me, but I guess I didn’t listen):
1 . It’s normal to be scared about the birth – I was so scared. I was desperate to be pregnant and elated when I was but then the “OMG this baby has gotta come out somehow” sets in. That is normal. If it’s your first baby you have no idea what to expect. However, try not to let this fear consume you. Women have given birth since the beginning of time – we are lucky we have better healthcare, better information and for some, better support than those before us.
2. The birth is not the destination: It’s the beginning – I planned my perfect birth; I’d go into labour naturally, I’d let my body do what it was designed to do and I’d skip out of the delivery room with my nether regions intact! Hmmm … well, the reality was that I was induced due to chronic sciatica, I gave birth lying on my back, I had an episiotomy and I was wheeled out of the delivery room to my room on the maternity ward. But WAIT! I don’t regret any of it! Many of us spend our entire pregnancies focussing on the birth – it’s just the start of something amazing but it really is where it all begins!
3. Breastfeeding is NOT easy - well, for some it really isn’t! I found breastfeeding to be excruciatingly difficult yet I persevered. Even today, when BiP is fast approaching her first birthday, it is still hard at times. For me, the reward outweighed the struggle(s). Get as much support as you can through La Leche League, a lactation consultant, friends, family, online – wherever! Just make sure you get it!
4. It’s OK to cry. A lot. – 3 days after I had BiP I cried, oh I cried. I felt I must have lost my pregnancy weight in tears I cried so much. It’s ok and it’s normal (so I am told). Becoming a mother, with all the hormal changes on top of the physical ones are huge so having a good old cry is OK, really it is. Obviously signs of Post-Partum Depression (PPD) are important to look out for but try not to worry unnecessarily about it beforehand.
5. Don’t try to be SuperMom – I put incredible pressure on myself, and I still do at times, to be the perfect mother – but what is the perfect mother? I find myself chasing the undefined and unattainable! STOP! Your house doesn’t have to be spotless, you don’t have to do a million educational activities a day with your 6 week old and you don’t have to be perfectly turned out everyday. Take each day as it comes, do what you can manage and what makes you and your baby happy. The dishes can wait!
6. It’s OK to miss your old life – As a new mother your life takes on a whole new meaning and direction. It is OK to miss your old life, one where you are not permenantly attached to your baby who seeks to devour every last drop of your energy. I suffered with overwhelming guilt at wanting just a sniff of my pre-pregnancy life; where I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. Until recently I felt so guilty until I discovered that I was not alone in feeling like I had lost my identity.
7. You will still be fat. For a while. And for some, like me, a LONG time … Those nutella crepes and all that ice cream that my baby needed during my pregnancy won’t, sadly, just melt off in the delivery room. No. 9 months on often equals 9 months off, kinda. A lot of women drop the weight almost instantaneously but for a lot of us it really doesn’t work that way. Get some nice clothes and you will one day get back to some kind of normal (or so I am told)!
8. Your relationship with your spouse will hit a rough patch – ok, here it is, a true confession. When BiP was born I never felt closer to my husband, he was supportive, loving and an all-round super dad. As I recovered from my delivery and got the hang of breastfeeding and the general being a mummy thing I became this over-possessive creature who had fallen madly in love with a sweeter smelling, cuter being; my baby! Then the fights started, this crazy adjustment – how I envied my husband being able to go out without thinking about feeds, naps and packing half the nursery into a bag BUT I wouldn’t change it for the world BUT I resented him for it … it became a vicious circle. Then the fights start. I thought at times that our marriage was falling apart until I discovered that this “adjustment” is not only normal, it is pretty common. The key to success and surviving it is to keep the channels of communication open, wide open and try to accept that at times you are being unreasonable, yes YOU. This will pass! Make time for each other and try, if you can to have “date nights” even if the best you can manage is a movie and some popcorn on the sofa! Every minute counts!
So there you have it … what did you wish someone had told you before you had your baby?