As I prepare to welcome baby number two, I’m getting ready to hand in my crown. My reign as a ‘first time mum‘ is coming to an end.
As I leave this period of my life and re-emerge as a regular old mum of kidS, I feel it’s time to pass on some advice and observations….
You won’t enjoy it all
The occasional breakdown is totally normal. It doesn’t mean you’re suffering PND or you’re a terrible mother. It just means you’re overwhelmed and exhausted. It’s ok to want to make it all go away and wish for a moment you had your old life back.
It’s only when that’s all you can think about that you might want to talk to someone. But don’t be alarmed if those thoughts hit you now and then. That’s not abnormal, that’s just being the victim of a tiny, new dictator.
You will be treated like a special kind of moron by most medical professionals
With just three words they’ll dismiss every valid concern you might have… “First time mum?” said with a head tilt and pity in their eyes.
It’s ok to feel stupendously dumb on a regular basis
No matter how intelligent you are or how much time you’ve spent around babies, nothing prepares you for this job. You are seriously under qualified and you’re forced to work it all out for yourself. There’s no other time in your life you’ll be this far out of your depth.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Every new mum has felt like that and every new mum to come will feel the same. Just laugh off your mistakes and hope you get it right for the second kid. The first one’s just a practice run, right?
If you happen to have one of those perfect babies, don’t brag about them
It’s totally possible you’ll get a text book baby. They have to base those books on someone, so you could totally hit the jackpot.
I promise it’s a mixture of pure luck and destiny. Don’t alienate your new mum friends by being a sanctimummy who thinks they know it all. And always remember: babies change on the daily. Your perfect sleeper at 8 weeks could become the worst sleeper of all time at 3 months and it will suck if you’ve been bragging because you won’t feel like you can admit when everything’s gone to shit.
If your kid is the opposite of everything the books say, that’s totally normal too. Sometimes babies are jerks, sent to destroy you. You’ll love them anyway.
You’ll need new mum friends
Join a mothers group. If you’re lucky you’ll be put in a group of awesomely honest women who are at the exact same stage as you. It’s a sanity saver to know you’re not alone.
No one in your life knows what you’re going through like these women. Trust them. Be open with them. Don’t judge them. Don’t try and compete with them. Take the opportunity to be completely vulnerable and admit what you’re struggling with. They’ll be your biggest support.
And if you happen to get one of those competitive mums in your group? Cut her out like the cancer she is. You don’t need that bullshit in your life.
Don’t worry about remembering every moment
It’s ok to let some stuff go. Take photos, take videos, but don’t feel like you’ve failed if you don’t note every single new thing they do. You’ll never look back and be pleased you wrote about the day your baby did their first semi-solid poo.
Don’t rush it
You’ll feel it’s vitally important and significant if and when your child hits their milestones. I promise, if your child isn’t rolling over at 5 weeks it’s not a drama. They will eventually. No kid has ever failed high school because they were a late roller. I think.
Don’t be alarmed if you have no instincts whatsoever
When people say “you’ll know exactly what your baby wants and needs” don’t freak out because you’ve got fuck all idea and all their cries sound the same to you. You’ll get to know them eventually but it could take months and months before you feel like the most qualified person to care for your baby.
You’ll want feedback but you won’t get it
You’ll just want some expert to tell you you’re doing a good job. Instead you’ll have to perform one of those irritating self-appraisals.
Let me give you a hot tip – just give yourself “outstanding” on everything because, let’s be honest, no one’s around to contradict you and quite frankly, if you and your child are surviving each day you’re doing an outstanding job.
Don’t be surprised if it takes weeks to fall in love
For the first 6 weeks or so, babies are greedy sons of bitches. All they want is to be fed and cuddled. They won’t smile, they won’t say thanks. They won’t react much to you at all. It can feel like a very one sided relationship. But eventually they’ll start to smile and gurgle and they’ll look at you like you created sunshine and you’ll feel pretty bloody special.
It’s ok to veg out
Don’t listen to all the ‘experts’ that say helpful things like, “take some time for yourself. Go for a walk. Exercise is so important for new mums!” Ugh GAG! If you love to exercise, you should do it. If all you want to do is sit on your arse and watch Grey’s Anatomy. Do that.
Don’t feel pressured to be up and at it every day like a supermum on speed. If being a hermit and eating biscuits is what you need to do, do it.
You won’t always want to sloth around so let yourself relax for now if you need to and don’t feel like you need to live up to anyone else’s Instagram expectations of the Perfect New Mum.
Google can only lead to pain
Don’t get me wrong, I expect you’ll be on Google for roughly 80% of your day. I was. But just know that for every question you have, you’ll find 700 different answers and opinions and they’ll all contradict each other.
Choose whichever sounds the easiest and try that first. If your gut tells you it’s not going to work, forget it. If it’s all just too much information and you’re starting to get the iPhone shakes, put down the phone and forget about ‘fixing’ your baby just for today. They’ll still be broken tomorrow.
Don’t listen to people who tell you to “treasure every moment”
They’ve forgotten how tough it can be. Hindsight is an absolute cretin and makes people say stupid things. Yes, you absolutely will look back with rosy glasses and think how wonderful it was when your baby was so tiny and still and dependent. But that doesn’t help you at all today.
Today is a grind and you wish your baby could just talk to you and tell you what’s wrong.
You’re allowed to complain about it
No one will think you don’t love your baby just because you’ve had a hard day and wanted to pack up your child and post them to your parents. You’ll discover that even in the middle of your worst mothering moments, you still actually love them – even if you don’t like them very much.
It all balances out
Because you’ll also have days where you feel like you’re killing it. Your baby eats and sleeps and smiles and gurgles and rolls over and does all the amazing things babies are supposed to do and you convince yourself you have the greatest baby that was ever born and you wonder if you should alert the media. It will make you feel like you’ve just won a triathlon while writing a thesis on parenthood.
And then tomorrow you’ll be in tears because it didn’t stay that way. Welcome to parenthood!
What advice would you give a new mum? If you are a new mum, what advice have you found helpful (or not)?