The lovely Ali aka I’m Winging it too, https://instagram.com/im.winging.it.too?igshid=oq4rolncptrm has set a writing challenge for April. Every Monday there is a new topic. Due to me being totally behind the times, this is last week’s (Monday 6th) topic. A letter to myself as a new parent.
Congratulations, YOU DID IT! You’re a mum! After 9 long months of pregnancy, 9 even longer days passed due date and over 50 hours in labour, Rose is finally here, safe and sound! Cor it was a long old slog getting her out wasn’t it? I won’t dwell on the details, you know what you’ve just lived through.
Believe it or not, the part of the birth story you will retell the most frequently, in particular to expectant mum friends, is when you locked yourself in a bathroom to calm down because you were getting so annoyed with that blasé midwife. Trust me when I tell you this is a tactic you will come to use a lot during motherhood. Instead of a trainee midwife knocking on the door telling you to “stop pushing, you aren’t dilated enough”, it’ll be a small child crying because you’ve given them their lunch on the wrong colour plate / their Babybel broke in half when you opened it / their sock came off after they kept pulling it and now they can’t get it back on / any number of irrational reasons you can’t begin to imagine yet.
So amazingly, on day one, you have already mastered my top parenting tip: sometimes you have to lock yourself in a toilet and that’s okay! Taking a few minutes to yourself to calm down and take a few breaths is imperative sometimes.
Don’t worry if Rose (and later Heidi, yes I know, spoiler alert you’re going to have 2 tiny people to take care of in a few years) is crying in the other room. Leave them somewhere safe and take time to check in with yourself. Maybe have a quick cry, maybe a little scream of frustration, then take some deep breaths to refuel before heading back into the fray. It’s best for all concerned sometimes.
Top tip number 2: lets get ready to rummage! You are now an innovator, an improviser, a cobbling stuff together at the drop of a hat type! There’s a day in the not too distant future when you’re going to be en route to meet the NCT girls and your boobs are going to start leaking because Rose is crying. When you park, you’ll look down and see 2 massive wet patches which have come through both your tshirt and sweater. You will cry because you desperately want to see the girls but you should probably just feed Rose in the car and then drive home.
In the first of many “that’ll do” incidents, you turn the changing bag and the car upside down looking for a solution. You will decide to wrap a long scarf, you find in the boot, around your neck to hang down and cover the offending patches. Good save, well done, go get your coffee and treat yourself to cake for your quick thinking.
Top tip 3: you DO have instincts. You will try to learn the different types of cry (hungry, tired, full nappy, wanting a cuddle, special emergency cry reserved for when in public and mum appears to be ignoring you as she orders herself a coffee because she’s a selfish cow) and sometimes nothing will settle Rose/Heidi and you’ll tell yourself you’re a failure. You’re not. Sometimes babies just have a lot going on in their little brains and they’re a bit aggy. You’re going great.
Top tip 4: let those instincts shout louder than every Tina, Debbie and Janet on the internet. You will read countless books and mumsnet posts about establishing routines and sleep training, about dummies and bottle feeding. When the time comes, you will fret about the best weaning technique, about whether your baby is hitting developmental milestones, and whether you and Nick should be having sex again yet. There are so many sources of information out there, but remember, no-one else knows your baby and marriage like you do. Do what you think is right & sod what everyone else is doing. You’ve never been one to follow the herd, why start now? If one way doesn’t work, try something else. Simples.
Top tip 5: accept help. remember Nick? He did so well during labour didn’t he? Super supportive and an excellent back rubber. He’s going to do so well at this parenting business. Let him help you. You are the mummy, the milk machine, the one who normally wakes up in the middle of the night whilst he’s snoring his head off and you will resent him for getting to escape and go to work sometimes. You will think it’s all down to you, but seriously, let him give Rose a bottle sometimes. Let him soothe her. Let him take care of bath time and laundry and cooking and share the discussions about best techniques for this, that and the other. He is a more valuable resource than the internet and loves you and the girls fiercely.
I have so much more I could tell you, but I know you’re not really listening, you’re just staring at that little ball of perfection lying next to you with awe, wonderment and overwhelming love written all over your knackered face.
I’m not going to sugar coat this. There are some pretty rough times coming up. Motherhood isn’t all smooth sailing, it’s hard, like really hard, it’s draining in all sorts of ways. But it is also phenomenal. It’s going to shape you in ways you can’t yet imagine and teach you the true meaning of love, kindness and patience.
Children weren’t always part of your life plan but you’re soon going to feel like being a stay at home mum the vocation you’ve been searching for this whole time.
Be kind to yourself, you got this,
2020 Fay x
Ps Second time round the labour was MUCH faster. You only arrived at the hospital for an hour before Heidi did.
Pps The NCT girls didn’t notice your milk patches, nor did anyone else at Costa. Or if they did they were more embarrassed than you and didn’t mention them.