It’s no secret that the introduction to motherhood is different for everyone. For me it’s nothing like I expected. And now almost two months on, I’m still experiencing new things that surprise me everyday.
Call it common sense or just understanding your baby but parent intuition IS a thing. But it may not happen straight away. For me it took weeks to finally work out how to care for Mia; if she got sick or if she was crying. Of course I’ve been protective of her since she was born but the desire to nurture really is intense.
Before my little girl I was never a baby person. Aside from my nieces who I love dearly, I was rarely around babies (they don’t allow them in wine bars). I never played with dolls when I was little and never have an urge to ‘hold’ someones child. So in the days before Mia’s due date I really struggled to comprehend what was happening. Would I feel maternal? Could I imagine myself with a baby? Naturally you start to get an inkling that something might work, or if you change something it might be a difference. From burping the right way to soothing with a particular song. It’ll come. Don’t worry.
Kind of maternal but this time definitely more common sense. When you’ve done the 4am night feed for the fourth night in a row, knowing when to turn the lights on/off so baby stays sleeping becomes second nature. You’ll also know to grab that large muslin instead of a tiny bib because it’ll be so much easier to clean up that ounce of milk you’ve dropped all over her face in your moonlit lounge (damn that lid). Knowing what feels right and what doesn’t – that gut feeling will become your second brain.
Every baby is unique. Whilst some may love to be swaddled others may scream and break free. Some may love the bath whereas others may do everything in their power to let you know they’re not happy (Mia definitely has those ‘what the hell is this?!’ moments). There are other mothers around to help you and they’re everywhere you look. In stores, on the street, at ante natal classes, baby classes, the swimming pool… Lean on them, take their advice. Whilst hoards of family and friends will be quick to offer you instructions on how to look after your baby (even bizarrely those who don’t have children) you’ll find a lot of it is antiquated. Ultimately a happy baby comes from education, observation, trial and error.
Get ready to strike. Because when you’ve a baby your life becomes a succession of military operations. From nappy changing areas of your home (spare vests, baby-grows, nappies, Waterwipes, hand sanitiser, nappy rash preventatives…) to packing the car when you both head out for the first coffee with your friends. You become organised. Your life becomes systematic.
We were a little crazy because from day 4 Mia was taken out regularly, even to stay out with us overnight. Whilst in theory we had it nailed (Sleepyhead, check! Bottles, check! Microwaveable steriliser bags, check!) looking back I think it was the cause of my setback around week 6. I felt my recovery had taken a wrong turn, I was constantly tired and felt aches and pains all over. I’d taken on too much and had felt completely overwhelmed, much like most mothers do around the end of week 1 or 2. There’s no rush to get out and do things and if you want to spend 9 days not leaving the bedroom with your newborn, do it. Most people I know didn’t leave their house for 6 weeks.
Especially as time progresses, new mothers become more empathetic. I started thinking more about that single mother who brought up their child alone… that older parent who’s son is an alcoholic…
Pre pregnancy sure I cared if I were told of any such tale but now, I care that little bit more. It’s been said that parenting is like a club and it’s true, you do start viewing other mothers in a different light. You might get a little upset than usual at a children’s charity TV advert and you might be more inclined to help others in need. You’re sharing their feelings, their struggles and their amazement at this wonderful thing you’ve created.