There are so many things I wish I had known before having a baby, the things that they should teach you or at least try to prepare you for at antenatal classes.
1. It is hard work. Having a little person around that needs you and relies on you completely to keep it alive. Pretty daunting.
2. It is tiring. You look ahead and think when will my first lie in be? Probably when you let somebody look after them overnight….but are you ready to be parted from your little bundle so soon? Catch 22!
3. Sleep deprivation is only something a parent can truly understand. I can’t even begin to explain…..though it does get easier, or maybe just more manageable.
4. Worry. The minute you find out you’re pregnant the worry starts. I don’t see it ever ending.
5. Labour is not that bad…it’s nothing to what the next four days of having a newborn brings as you adjust to your new role.
6. Hormones are crazy mad things – they say Day 4 the tears come in, along with the milk. Try also Days 5,6,7 and 8. But it’s OK to cry, to be irrational, to be insanely in love with this little person that you cry because you love it so much. And it’s OK to cry because the toast that you’ve just started eating has got mould all over it – it feels like the end of the world. Yep. Talking from experience.
7. Building immunity. The poor little things can’t do much for themselves – including blowing their noses and breathing through their mouths. See the fundamental problem here? All hail the snot sucker!
8. They can’t digest ‘food’ properly. They need to be winded, sometimes tummy massaged and generally made to feel comfortable at meal times. Which are often. Which leads me neatly on to the thing nobody warned us about…..
9. ….. Growth spurts! Wow who knew something so small could need to drink so much during this time. It’s like an all you can eat buffet, milk style.
10. Breast feeding is an art. Some people take to it, some people don’t. Don’t beat yourself up about it. A happy mum is a happy baby, stressing over the boobs working or not working is not another worry you need to add to the hormonal mix. Besides, at least if you switch to a bottle – dad can help 🙂
10. Lonely life. If you don’t know friends who have similar age babies, sitting at home with a baby can be a very lonely life….especially when the little monkeys initially sleep for up to 20 hours a day. And there’s only so much Jeremy Kyle that you can watch. So, get out and about, meet friends for lunch, attend baby groups (people that go don’t talk about their babies constantly, most do remember there was a life without a plus one in tow..:)
11. You cannot go anywhere fast! With a pram, there’s no quick smash and grab shopping sprees. Oh no. It’s all about waiting for lifts, planning your babies feeds around which shops cater for it. Which shops have big enough changing rooms to fit you, your hoard of clothes and a pram!, and the best places for nappy changing facilities! Who would have thought?!
11. Remember, there was a life before a baby. The one that made you and your partner get together in the first place. Being a mum is amazing, but remember you are also a partner and a friend. Try not to lose your identity.
12. Mum knows best! The most valuable piece of advice. At first it is daunting – why are you crying? I’ve done the check; you’ve just been fed, you’ve had a cuddle, you’ve had a nappy change – and you’re still crying? Sometimes babies just do! Pretty soon you’ll pick up the different cries and call outs and learn what your baby wants even before they do. Listen to advice which is given to you, but choose whether to put it into action – no two babies are the same so you won’t find the answer in the pages of a book!
13. Cherish every moment. They don’t stay small for long.
Finally, it is the most hard working, challenging, tiring and worry filled job – did I mention it was also 24 hours? But it is also the most rewarding, amazing, proud ‘career’ anyone could ask for. Even if you’re only being paid the statutory £136 a week! Its absolutely life changing and as cliche as it sounds, you really cannot explain the love for a child until you have one. Everything that you used to worry about pales into insignificance, you learn to become more selfish and not just a ‘yes’ person.
I recommend it to anyone, truly the best job in the world.