When I pregnant with my first, I was not one of those who read the books, you know the what to expect when you’re expecting rah rah rah. I was all, ‘it’s not something you can be taught’. It isn’t to be fair but I did go to Ante Natal classes, although that was purely to meet people with the vague hope I might make some mummy friends, pre mummy hood. Disclaimer, it worked. That said in hindsight, now three years (almost) post first baby, when I look back over my time as a new mum I wonder whether I should have read more books. Perhaps I would have had some idea about the importance of nap times, or the fact that newborns need to nap on the regular, i.e. that they basically nap most of the day, not the night admittedly. I might have had some idea about feeding options, the fact feeding takes FOREVER, breast pumps, nipple shields, dummies, winding, you know knowledge is power and all that. I wonder if I had read more books I might not have been fumbling through the dark trying to work out what the hell to do with this tiny human who is so utterly and completely reliant on me.
Despite all this, I am quite confident that with all the preparation in the world and if I had read all the books then I still probably wouldn’t have been prepared for the following;
1. You will hate your partner.
That person who you love so dearly, who has co-created this beautiful, precious little baby, who you were so excited to start this journey with. Yeah that person. You will want to hurt them. Hurt them in the middle of the night for ‘not hearing’ the baby. You will resent their freedom of leaving the house to go to work. You will curse them for putting jam on your toast after a shitty night and not marmite. They will mess up your non existent routine you think you have sussed. When they offer you advice you shout at them for telling you what to do and when they dare say they are tired you will go bat shit. They cannot win. You will hate them rationally and irrationally. You will bear an unreasonable anger you have never felt before but you are tired, life is now weird and you have to take it out on someone. This is normal and it passes, so just let it be.
2. You will know best.
As in you really will and you won’t listen to anyone else, whoever they may be. Nanny Pat may have had three children of her own and then 9 grandchildren (of which she raised at least three and the rest she was as much parent as grandparent), yet how could she possibly tell me what my baby wants or needs, how could she possible know, after all I had been on the job for a good three weeks now. Basically you will think nobody knows anything, as you are the only person who has ever had a baby, ever. You won’t listen, you won’t entertain advice but that’s ok. As actually you do know your baby best. Those around you may have advice worth listening to and they are only trying to help but don’t worry if you don’t want to listen you will get there in the end. Mum knows best.
3. You will love the TV.
Yep, in the words of Joey, Stevie the TV will be your new best friend. I watched all the telly throughout the night with both my children. In fact the theme tune of Suits always takes me back to sitting on my nursing chair in the living room with a two week old feeding, relentlessly. I found it the only way to keep me awake and to get me through those long, long, nocturnal nights. Chances are you’ll probably be in front of it most of the day too whilst you have a newborn chained to you, taking a good 40 minutes to feed. My advice to you, embrace it, watch all the box sets whilst you can, once they get old enough to want entertaining, those days are long gone my friends.
4. You won’t sleep when the baby sleeps, but you should.
I presume all the books will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. I know all the people told me this. I didn’t thought. You will probably try to do something productive, which actually is futile because you’ll feel like you’ve done a lot, yet amongst the 2 hourly feed cycle, the nappy change and inevitable outfit change (for you both) you won’t actually have a great deal of time to get anything done. The house will still be a mess, dinner won’t be cooked and the dishes won’t be washed. It’s ironic really because babies don’t do a great deal, yet they are immensely time consuming. If and when you do get to that point where you get your baby to sleep at a normal time, then you won’t go to bed, you will want to do something ‘adult’ something for you that isn’t about tending to the needs of your child, be it watch telly, read a book, or actually talk to your mates. I always said ‘I just want to chill for a bit’ before I go to bed. This was with my first. With my second, I slept, whenever I bloody could. Learnt that the hard way.
5. It will happen when it happens.
I imagine books give you some form of expected milestones. I know they are there for a reason and a general pre-curser that medical professionals need but please, please do not get hung up on them. I stressed over these with both my first and second, why aren’t they sitting? Why aren’t they sleeping through the night? Why haven’t they smiled yet? My youngest is nearly two, was two months premature and he and his sister are now both doing what is ‘expected’. They didn’t always, my boy particular, even accounting for him prematurity, milestones did not happen according to the textbook but guess what they did it in their own time, when they were good and ready. Now, I am told they are ahead of their expected skill set. What the hell? How things can change in such a short time. Take it from me, every baby is different and every baby will do things in their own time, don’t let it worry you.
Wow that is only 5, I actually have another 5 on my list but I am conscious of just how long this post is already. You get my point though eh? Some things you can’t be taught, some things that you are taught you need to take with a pinch of salt or at the least a dose of personal circumstance and some things, well you will be thrown in at the deep end but you’ll figure it out anyway. I am not saying the books wouldn’t have helped but some things cannot be learnt from a book. What do you think? Is there anything you wish you had known? Or something you would impart on to another? I’d love to hear from you.