Ask any Mum, whether their baby is 11 weeks old or 11 years old, and they’ll say the first few weeks as a new parent are hard. Actually, regardless of how many kids you have the first few weeks are hard.
Exhausting, relentless, overwhelming, mixed with a lot of hormones, disbelief at what you created, wonder and adoration.
But I bet you could also ask these Mums what do they wish they’d been better prepared for and they will each have a different tit bit of mummy wisdom to impart. And probably agree that no one can fully prepare you for what becoming a parent will be like;
Every baby is different, every birth story is unique, no two family set-ups are exactly the same, no two women think exactly the same and therefore react the same to stresses, and lastly everyone’s tolerance is different whether it be to pain, sleep deprivation, hunger, patience etc.
But this being said, it is only natural for first time Mums to ask friends who have been there and done it, what things they should be prepared for…
When I have been asked by friends, what I wish someone had told me about…
My top two, are not things that will apply to every Mum, but they are two things that I believe society sugar coats or presents in a certain light that it sets many women up for a feeling of complete and total inadequacy.
1. Pregnancy is a miracle but not all women enjoy it.
I really disliked being pregnant with my first. I felt awkward, uncomfortable in my own skin, my hair went super oily, my skin broke out and I was the most unstable hormonally that I had been in years and years. So I cried a lot!
Now at the time I would never have said this out loud to anyone because I felt that that would make me ungrateful for the amazing gift I had been given.
But because I bottled it up that only made me even moodier and gave me the guilt’s big time for the whole 9 months, that I was somehow already less of a Mum for not loving my baby growing in my tummy.
Once I had my first I realised how important it is for Mums to be honest with each other and call it how it is… I’d have loved someone to have said to me ‘oh I didn’t like being pregnant at all’ just so that I didn’t think it was just me and that it some how made me a bad Mum, before my baby was even born.
So to pregnant women, those trying or those who have had their bub…
You might have loved growing your little human inside you...
But if you didn’t, it doesn’t make you any less of a Mum. Your body becomes somewhat of a vessel when pregnant and that is not always pleasant, saying so out loud does not make you ungrateful for your little miracle, it means your being honest with yourself and others, a trait I’m sure you hope to impart upon said baby as they grow up.
2. You may not immediately bond with your baby
I think because I didn’t particularly like being pregnant and felt so terribly guilty about this, I told myself that when my baby was born I’d love it so very much that it’d make up for all the times I wished the ‘pregnancy’ part to be over.
But here’s the thing that knocked me for six… I heard so many people say ‘you will never know love until you know love for a child’, that they instantly adored their baby and felt like their heart ‘hurt’ it was in such awe of what they had created.
This feeling is not a myth, the perspective of child no. 2 means I can tell you that the ‘euphoric’ feeling people describe does happen… to some.
But gosh do I wish that the same amount of time was given to the equally possible feeling of ‘petrified overwhelm, without the immediate adoration’.
I was completely unprepared for not bonding with my first baby and this sent me into a spiral of self-guilt that took me weeks to pull out of.
Yes, my first birth was traumatic and my baby spent time in the SC nursery. Being the first, lots of family wanted cuddles and so my ‘cuddles’ were painful breastfeeding sessions and then it was back to someone else’s arms or the humidicrib. But still, no one said anything about how sometimes you have to work to build that bond, sometimes it isn’t immediate.
Coming home from hospital was one of the scariest days of my life because I knew that ‘I’ was supposed to be the person who knew what this baby needed and I didn’t feel like I had a clue, quite the opposite, I wanted to tag out.
I was exhausted and in pain and I didn’t want to be there.
Why am I sharing this? Because I did bond with my baby, it took me longer than I had been prepared for, but it came.
I do know my daughter better than she knows herself and I do look at her now with that heartache level of adoration and love.
BUT my tit bit of Mummy wisdom
The fact that I didn’t feel this way the moment I first saw her does not make me odd or again, less of a Mum and I don’t want any other Mum to think this of themselves either.
It is what it is, and I will be sharing this with my baby girl years from now, should she be having her own kids. I will share it with her in the hope that I can spare her some level of the guilt, angst and sadness I felt not feeling like I ‘adored’ her instantly. And particularly that the expectation I felt that I SHOULD adore her instantly is an unfair bench-mark to put on new Mums and therefore not a bench mark I want her to put on herself.
What will you impart to your kids or a friend just pregnant?
Your hands-on helper,