It’s nearly my little man’s first birthday and what a year it has been. Out of all my friends I was the first to have a baby.
I was never one of those people who was ‘excited’ to have a baby. I had never changed a nappy, never cared for a newborn and the thought of going to visit other people with a newborn made me so nervous because I dreaded the time when they would say “Would you like to have a hold?” and I never wanted to for fear of snapping this precious, fragile little bundle in half. But I would obediently say yes and then end up looking completely awkward, with my arm sitting at too much of a right-angle. I’d count the minutes in my head and then say “Ok, someone else’s turn now. Who would like a hold?”
Now I’ve had a year’s experiences and I can change a nappy like no other, I LOVE holding newborns and I can’t wait to hold my new nephew when he enters the world in January and the thought of having another baby (eventually) brings a warmth in my heart.
I know one day, my friends will have babies too. And I want to give them the best words possible. I couldn’t seek those words from my friends but luckily I had my two sister-in-laws to call upon and they were more than happy to lend an ear. There is so much unwanted advice you get too, and it doesn’t have to be spoken – Because you receive it through way too much Googling internet forums and social media.
I’m not an expert. But sometimes I think motherhood is still some ‘best kept secret’ and if I was ever going to impart some ‘wisdom’ I want it to be the best I can give and I want my friends to be happy and live a world of Baby Bliss! Here’s what I have to tell them:
Your world will be better because of this baby. Whenever someone tells you ‘it’s hard work having a baby’ dismiss it. It’s not work. It’s hard at times. But it’s not a job. And if it were one, it would be one you will do with more passion, love and determination than any other job in the world.
Don’t Google too much! I spent so much time on Google and forums that I thought my son had developed terrible ‘sleep habits’ and it was all my fault. I spent so much time trying to do things like ‘put him down sleepy but awake’ or the classic ‘pick up, put down’ rubbish for his naps that I started to feel like a failure, time and time again.
DO what comes natural – and don’t listen to anyone that tells you otherwise! Want to cuddle your baby while he/she sleeps? Do it! Want to breastfeed them to sleep? Do it! Want to hold your baby until they fall asleep? Do it! It will NOT give them bad habits! They are babies. They don’t want you, they need you. I’ve never seen an animal in the wild walk away from their baby lest they form a ‘bad habit’ of sucking at a nipple while sleeping or being cuddled to sleep. Human babies need the same kind of nurture from their mothers. And if you want to try some sleep techniques – then do so. But at no point should you compromise your stress/emotional levels or that of your baby’s. If it doesn’t work, don’t push it.
Giving birth is amazing – Yes, it hurts and everyone’s experiences are so varied. But no matter what – when you have a baby at the end of the experience, whatever may happen will melt away and it will all be worth it. You will be in awe of just what your body can create.
Don’t do things to please people – If you’re too tired to go out, or you don’t want visitors. Tell them so. Put yourself first and don’t get sucked into the ‘obligations’. You have one thing in the world to focus on at the moment and it’s your family and your body. Do what you need to do to get rest.
Let your husband/partner in – You might need to ask them to do specific things. It’s not because they don’t want to help. It’s just because they’re not sure what they can do. Watching your partner bond with your baby is equally as beautiful as bonding with them yourself.
Doctors won’t always have the answers – We’ve seen doctors, paediatricians and naturopaths. Finally our solution to our baby’s sleep was an osteopath. If your heart tells you something isn’t right, keep seeking the answer. Eventually it will come.
Emotions will run high – I cried everyday for nearly the first two months of my little man’s life. Sometimes it was because I was tired, happy or helpless. And sometimes I had no idea why I was crying. Your hormones go a little crazy. Just go with it, and do what makes you feel better. Eat chocolate, have a sleep, watch trashy TV. You just gave birth. You deserve it.
I can’t wait until my closest friends have babies for me to kiss, cuddle and love to bits! What would you tell your friends?