Parents are full of advice for first time mum’s and feel it’s their duty to try and prepare you for what lies ahead. People quite often joked that my life as I knew it was over. Whilst my rational mind knew that wasn’t the case and things would just be different, it was the first few months I was most scared of. Everyone commented how the newborn months were the hardest, so I took on board the friendly warnings from family, friends and even strangers in an attempt to mentally prepare myself for the nightmare (“but so worth it”) I was about to embark on.
I felt i was prepared to “never sleep” or at least for the first few months. I had imagined the sleepless nights pacing the hallway with a screaming baby, breaking down to my mum on the phone back home in the UK asking myself what the hell I had done and seeking encouragement to get through it! I had assured myself I made it through the dreaded night shifts back in the day and that this would be just the same. What I wasn’t prepared for was my body to very quickly adjust to a broken sleep routine and to somehow function just fine with very little sleep. In actual fact, I did sleep. Sure, it’s not a nice 8 hour stretch every night but some nights you get lucky. I even found myself gob smacked that my baby didn’t cry all day and all night!
I was only half prepared with the knowledge of risks, illnesses and everything else us mothers have to be mindful of that could harm our tiny newborn baby. However, I wasn’t prepared for just how real a mother’s instinct is. You can read every baby book going and scour the internet for answers to your questions but you are so in sync with your baby you just know when something is wrong.
I was prepared to have a newborn who was quite frankly “boring”. I was prepared for a baby on auto pilot going through the motions of crying, peeing, pooping and (if you’re lucky) sleeping. What I wasn’t prepared for was a tiny baby who would change and grow so quickly I could barely keep up. I wasn’t prepared to witness so many amazing moments so early on, in between the crying, peeing, pooping and sleeping of course! From a smile that wasn’t wind, producing sounds other than a burp to making genuine eye contact are just some of the moments that left me bursting with pride.
I was also prepared for my relationship to “suffer” and constantly reminded my partner when I was pregnant just how difficult things were going to get. I started giving him a hard time before the baby had even arrived. I would scowl at him as soon as he walked through the door and slumped himself on the sofa after work and say “so, ÿou think you’re tired now? Just you wait!”. But, what I wasn’t prepared for was just how amazing he would be when shit got real in the delivery room or how my heart would feel like it was going to explode every time I saw him playing with his little boy. I wasn’t prepared for the one thing I should have been, that it is the 21st Century and raising a baby isn’t just the sole responsibility of the mother. Seeing my partner in his new role as a dad made me love him even more. I know there will be tough times ahead but we’re a team and together we’ve totally got this parenting malarky!
I was warned time and time again that with a newborn I would never have five minutes to myself and my social life was over FOREVER. Cue the made up scenario’s in my head of me sitting on the toilet, rocking the baby with my foot on his swing, sshhhing him to be calm just for two seconds so i could have a pee! I was even prepared for a grab and go diet of crisps and biscuits and committed to pile on even more pounds to my savaged body as i lived out my days as a recluse trapped in my own home. Yes, there have been a few crazy moments like this but it’s really not so dramatic or that often. What I wasn’t prepared for is how far we have come in the world of baby gadgets or how bloody marvelous a baby carrier is. I mean you just strap or wrap the baby in and away you go, two free hands to do whatever you want with… jogging, walking, housework (bleurgh) you name it, you can do it! Even in regards to my social life, there are so many baby friendly establishments out there to catch up with friends, there are even mums and bubs movie screenings at the cinema! OK, so the drunken nights dancing on tables with friends are on the back burner for now but anyway the aftermath of a morning with your newborn can be likened to a crazy night out, what with all that sick in your hair and baby brain hindering your ability to remember just about anything you did 10 minutes ago let alone the night before! I wasn’t prepared for just how much fun the early days of parenting could be.
Most of all, I wasn’t prepared for how quickly those ‘hardest months’ would pass by and my newborn baby would be no more.