Expectations of motherhood: I had heard so much about how having a child changes your life…..the lack of sleep, the lack of social life…..and so I was expecting all of these things but I don t think I really understood just how much having a baby changes things until Ed was here. I was so excited to meet the baby that had been growing in my tummy all this time and I absolutely loved being pregnant, but actually I don’t think I knew what to expect – all I knew was that I was excited.
Reality of motherhood: Motherhood has been all people told me and so much more! Beforehand it just didn’t really sink in just how much hard work it really is – the complete and utter lack of sleep, having absolutely no time for yourself, how it changes your body(!) and how it feels to have this tiny and vulnerable person being so utterly dependent on you for their every need. And yet, for all the sleepless nights (and believe me they continue!) and the total lack of a social life for the first few months it has been totally worth it and the love you feel for your child is really and truly like no other. And you even get used to the sleepless nights after a while. After 9 months I am used to functioning on little sleep and once you get into a routine with your baby you are able to have a little time to yourself. Even if it’s just 10 minutes to grab a cup of tea!
Taking your child home for the first time: It was a cold dark January night when we first brought Ed home. I couldn’t wait to leave the hospital, having being there for nearly a week after a very traumatic birth (another story!) but when my partner and I got home with Ed still in his carseat, we looked at each other and said ‘what do we do now’?! It was completely overwhelming having been in the protective surroundings of the hospital we were now on our own and we had no clue what to do!
That first night we did not sleep a wink and kept checking baby was still breathing, he wasn’t too hot, he wasn’t too cold……but we survived and the constant checking in the night has been a recurring theme since (I don t think this ever changes as my mom still checks on me at night when I go home for the weekends!)
The best/worst advice: The worst thing I could have done is the reading, reading and more reading and comparing of all the baby and parenting books. I also googled everything.
This was so bad for me as I constantly compared myself as a parent and my baby to others in these books/on the Internet and it can make you feel inadequate. So my advice would be don’t read these books and instead speak to friends/family/other mums. The best advice then has come from other mums, an invaluable source of support and ideas and a godsend!
The hardest parts of being a mother: Some of the hardest parts have been the changes to my life, there are friends that you see less of and it is hard to keep in touch when you are 100% focused on your baby. It is difficult at the start to talk about anything other than babies as that is your life, so I have tried really hard not to talk about baby things all the time when I do see friends, although maybe they would say otherwise! The lack of sleep is hard but you do get used to this and I do spend less time on my appearance than I once did. Your priorities change but I don t think this is necessarily a bad thing.
And the worrying….I am the worlds worst worrier but now, having a baby, I worry even more!
The best parts of being a mother: The best bits far outweigh the bad bits, seeing Ed for the first time was amazing, and I couldn t stop looking at him at first, actually I still can’t! The love you feel is truly overwhelming and it is true what they say about forgetting about the labour once you have your baby in your arms. Seeing him reach different milestones, crawling, playing, smiling. It really is amazing to think you have created this person and that you are the most important person in their life. It’s quite scary really – maybe this should have gone in the hardest section too!
On a personal level I feel calmer, more patient and less likely to stress over little things unlike before. You become more accepting about how things are and realise what’s important in life, although you also realise how short life really is and that also is quite scary!
Hopes for your family: All I really hope is that Ed grows to be a happy, healthy young boy and that he achieves all he wants to achieve.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: My advice would be don t panic! You will be fine and there is a lot of support out there if you feel you need it.
Do not read any of those parenting books. Do not google anything.
Try and get a routine going when you can, it’s so much easier to work with a routine I think and, although baby does not always stick to this if you can have regular mealtimes, bath times and bedtimes it will make your life easier!
Join local mother and baby classes, these have been invaluable to me and the friends I have made at these I hope are friends for life! I was so not the type of person to go to these and definitely didn’t t think I would enjoy them but going saved me in the early days when i was totally frazzled and didn’t know whether I was coming or going……and there isn t a nursery rhyme out there that I do not know the words to now.