Exactly nine months ago today, I was three hours into learning about my baby boy.
To say I was in awe was an understatement. My body had been through its biggest challenge; 41 weeks and three days of pregnancy and 33 hours of labour to bring me my most precious gift; but little did I know then that my biggest challenge was still to come.
Despite hearing stories from fellow mothers and reading a few books on parenting, I really had no idea of what life was going to be like with a baby, particularly a newborn. I didn’t yet know how I would feel when my baby screamed constantly, how I would survive sleep deprivation and how I would deal with his facial palsy diagnosis. I was excited and scared all at once.
Over the last nine months my son has taught me alot and if I was able to whiz back in time and whisper in the ear of my new mother self, I would tell her these 10 things:
1. Rest and relax as much as you can. I know you feel like you should be doing everything straight away, but just stop and put your feet up and enjoy your baby. There is no prize for ‘most together mother’.
2. Be kind to yourself. There are times you will feel like a mess and that you don’t know what to do, but know that things that at first seem insurmountable will get easier with time.
3. Today’s problem may be tomorrow’s memory. Babies change all the time, go with the flow as much as you can as in a blink that thing you worried about today will be gone forever.
4. Crying in the car and pram is normal for newborns. Try to avoid wanting to poke people who tell you that ‘all babies love their car seats’ in the eye as you’ll hear this alot. One day it will just stop, see point 3.
5. Don’t be in a rush. I know you want to go on long walks and work on your writing, but you don’t have to do it all straight away. Again, this stage will pass. Sooner than you think your baby will be sleeping longer and enjoying his pram and this time when you were just existing from one feed to the next will be remembered as a special bonding time with your son.
6. Don’t let perceived difficulties down the road affect how you parent today. If he wants to be held, hold him and if he wants to fed – AGAIN! – feed him, without guilt or fear of making a ‘rod for your back’. He will grow in independence of his own accord.
7. Let your baby be your book. You may be told to start introducing solids by 6 months, but he may not feel ready until 7. This is okay, there is no universal rule for all babies. Follow his lead.
8. He will sleep through the night eventually. You may feel like you will never have a full night’s sleep again, but you will. One night when you least expect it. Just don’t expect to have a full night’s sleep every night once it happens!
9. It’s okay to have bad days when you don’t feel up to it. Be honest about your feelings, don’t bottle them up. There are people all around to help you.
10. There is no such thing as perfection. True beauty is in those little flaws – in ourselves and in our children. Embrace the imperfect perfectness of your life.
Looking forward to what the next 9 months will bring; more lessons on life from my boy, no doubt!