No matter how much I had wanted and planned for that moment, I couldn’t believe it was happening (and took 3 more tests!). After my initial feelings faded I had the most magical day, feeling that it wasn’t just me anymore, that I had a little one inside me. Oddly enough this actually eased my fear. From that day onwards I made a conscious decision to talk to my baby (well, bump!) and to make sure I continued to do all I could to feel connected to my little one.
I loved being pregnant and had so many special moments that I was quite scared of how I would feel not being pregnant and how would I deal with the reality of a baby. I didn’t have any experience of babies and wondered, ‘What if it turns out that I don’t know what to do?’
Reality of Motherhood: After a 37 hour labour I can honestly say I didn’t have that gushing feeling of overwhelming love, I just felt so relieved that it was over and we were all ok!
Unfortunately we both picked up an infection which resulted in a further 5 nights stay in hospital – suffice to say I was exhausted and well and truly feeling the baby blues. I was desperate to take my baby home and for us to start to be a family, however in this was a difficult, and an often very isolated time. There was one moment that stayed with me, and made it all worthwhile, cuddling Max one night I read his tiny wristband, and it hit me, that this was MY son I was holding, and that I was now a Mum! A delayed reaction I know, but well worth the wait!
On a practical level I would advise investing in a baby CD (The lovely sleepy baby one worked for us!). It might drive you mad after a while but it really helps to settle them during the witching hour that is late afternoon/early evening!
I also used a sound machine in our room from day one, allowing Max to fall asleep to the sounds of the ‘ocean! This still works really well now, and helps me to sleep too! It helped to soothe Max early on, especially as he was quite jumpy after being poked and prodded continuously in hospital.
Worst advice: I didn’t really receive any bad advice as such. It was more that my personal experience of a breast feeding counsellor wasn’t helpful – and I actually felt worse as a result. I felt I couldn’t recreate what I had been told to do and was also made to feel a bit stupid when I’d said I hadn’t wanted to give Max my milk whilst I was bleeding. The response was, ‘A bit of blood won’t do him any harm!’. Whilst this may have been ok for him, upon reflection maybe it wasn’t ok for me! Instead I simply persevered, and carried on feeling guilty and in pain.
Hardest part of being a mum: For me it has to be an inability to switch off – your mind is always thinking, is he OK doing that? Has he eaten enough? Will he sleep through? Good, bad, fun, sad, whatever it is, your mind will be thinking.
Coupled with this is the guilt. Such as, am I playing with him enough? Has he been out enough? Is he eating the right things? I really struggle with a lot of this as I am at home with Max on my own 4 days a week (it was 5 until recently). Olly and I both talked about this when we decided to have a baby – but after 15 months I started to struggle a little. I felt I needed to do at least a few hours work for a break in routine and enjoy some adult conversation. I also felt it was important for Max, as I really didn’t want to get to the point where I resented my decision to stay at home with him. Thankfully my dad is able to help out 1 day a week, and they both have so much fun that it helps me switch off and appeases the guilt – for a few hours at least!
Max recently had a nasty bump to his head, after which he went floppy for a few seconds. For a minute I panicked and allowed my mind to go to that dreaded dark thought, the one that lies dormant but never far away in the back of your mind, ‘what if?‘. It reminds you what it feels like to be scared and helpless – both of which I’ve felt frequently as a new mum.
Best Parts of being a mum: Now to the fun part! And that’s exactly what it is – lots of fun! He makes me laugh out loud most days and has lightened my life in a way I never knew possible. Watching my little man grow and develop is incredible. I love that we have been a team since day 1. Seeing the way he looks at me, holds my hand, strokes my face (all on a good day!) – it melts me and makes all the guilt, anxiety, tiredness and stress disappear. Tantrums aside, I love the stage that he is at now, and although it’s exhausting, seeing him become a little person – trying in different ways to communicate with me and getting an idea of his personality – is just magical.
Advice to new and expectant mums: To reiterate, on an emotional level it’s about trusting yourself and talking to your bump/baby.
I don’t read baby books, and try not to compare us with others (although it’s inevitable sometimes). You’re not going to be looking at it from a neutral perspective though, so other peoples’ babies will seem better behaved (though never cuter!) and other mums will appear calmer, more groomed etc, but I would go back to the advice of listening to, and learning from, Max. To be honest I take it minute by minute and go from there.
On a practical level – buy a sound machine and a Baby CD. In addition buy yourself a coat with a hood. Trust me, wrestling with a buggy and a brolly is not fun – I only found this out the hard (and very wet) way!
Personally, I loved having a pre-natal baby listening device (despite being adamant I wouldn’t get one!). There was something quite amazing, and surreal, about sitting on the sofa watching TV with Olly – headphones in, listening to our baby’s heartbeat.
To be honest though, it’s such a personal journey, and you will find your own way through it, and that’s part of the magic of it. You do find a way through it, and while it may not always be easy, it’s rewarding on a level you could never imagine.