This guest post is by the lovely Mama H who blogs at Thursday’s Child, Friday’s Thoughts She has writes so beautifully along with taking some amazing photos!
You can also find her HERE on Twitter too.
Preparing, Greeting and Beyond: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known First Time Around
As I approach the 3/4 way mark in my second pregnancy, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on my experience as a first time mum. I’ve quickly come to realise that last time I worried too much, or was too naive in some cases and probably didn’t enjoy things as much as I could have. I worried too much about what other people thought, or didn’t listen to advice when it could have really helped.
I could probably write “100 things I wish I’d known first time around” but I shan’t bore you too much. Here are the top ten things I wish I’d known as a first time pregnant woman, a first time labouring woman and a first time mum.
1. Reading parenting books will help you
I remember someone telling me that reading books would make me paranoid as a parent which would result in me making bad choices. I am inclined to disagree. I read quite a lot when I was pregnant with E: books, leaflets, online articles. A lot of it is rubbish, some of it is gold dust. I swear by ‘The Baby Whisperer’ to this day. Some of it helps you make decisions about the parent you don’t want to be. And bits of it will really help when you’re having one of those days and then you remember something you read while waiting for the second set of bloods at your GTT. Read books. Use your common sense. Let them inform and inspire your parenting.
2. Pack MASSIVE pants in your hospital bag
Not a size bigger than you’d normally wear. At least three. Did I listen? No. What happened? I never imagined I’d have a c section in a million years, so why would I need them? 48 hours after my c section when I still had no sensation ‘down there’ a midwife informed me the elastic was sitting right on my scar and making it bleed. 4 days later, those pants just hurt. BIG PANTS. You just never know and your other half is going to feel awkward buying size far too big pants in the supermarket.
3. A birth plan should have a plan A and plan B
I spent a long time beating myself up as all my ideals for birth went out of the window and it felt like a huge failure. I ended up with everything I didn’t want and felt very out of control. Don’t get your heart set on anything and be willing to revert to plan B, C, D or even the newly made plan E. There are no medals for doing it without pain relief and major abdominal surgery is categorically not the easy way out. Fact.
3. Breastfeeding isn’t as natural as they’d have you believe
It takes two to tango, and both dance partners don’t always know what to do. It might hurt, it might be difficult, your milk might not come in. Just because it’s what women have been doing side time began doesn’t mean it’ll all be sweetness and light. Keep perspective.
4. Medics sometimes need prompting
Whether it’s a pregnancy related query or concern, or you don’t feel satisfied with the diagnosis you’ve been given for a poorly child, don’t be afraid to ask more questions, push for treatment or ask for a second opinion. Your gut instinct is stronger than you give it credit for, even before baby arrives. Don’t settle with an answer you’re not happy with. I was told E had a chest infection. Turns out it was whooping cough. I only got that diagnosis after insisting I saw a paediatric at the hospital. Enough said.
5. Mummy friends are your best friends and your worst nightmares
You will need your mummy friends, however you make them, be it through baby groups, antenatal or post natal groups, or even on Baby Centre (where I met some of my best friends). You need someone else to tell you that their kids throw their food on the floor, are going through the four month sleep regression or won’t keep their socks on. But they will also be your biggest source of parenting paranoia. Just when you think your child is doing brilliantly you start questioning if they’re behind because they’re not yet lifting their heads during tummy time/haven’t cut a tooth yet/can’t count to five in Swahili like so and so’s son. Not comparing your child is impossible, I fear, but don’t let it turn you into a worrier when there’s nothing to worry about. And don’t worry if you let slip the odd humble brag. It’s a mummy prerogative!
6. Thinking about going back to work is far worse than the reality
You spend every day thinking about the day you’ll have to go back. You wonder how you ever got out of the house at 7am alone never mind with a child who has a habit of sleeping in on school days, you’re concerned that someone has done your job better than you, will someone else keep your child alive in your absence? The reality is that work will have missed you and will be thrilled you’re back, you’ll be back in the swing of it within minutes, you are in fact super woman and a day at nursery/with the childminder/at the grandparents is super fun and not to be sniffed at. Deep breath, it’ll be just fine, I promise.
7. Children’s shoes are more expensive than adult shoes
E’s summer shoes: £49 due to super wide podgy feet. My summer shoes: £7 from the supermarket. And my feet are considerably larger than hers, just to clarify.
8. Take advice with a pinch of salt
As for Point 5, to an extent, people will tell you stuff which will make you worry and second guess yourself. Clearly there are some things which I personally won’t question, like immunisations, or weaning before 4 months, or why it’s not a good idea to let your child sleep on top of a spinning washing machine, but there are some things you’ll be hounded for for doing, or things that’ll at least win a raised eyebrow, but you do know what’s best. E slept on her tummy from day 3. People forget that the published advice on SIDS does tell you to keep perspective. My daughter had a new mattress in a non smoking house and was watched vigilantly. She had good neck strength. This meant she slept soundly and settled immediately. This meant that mummy could rest. Rested mummy, rested baby = happy mummy, happy baby. No brainer.
9. Being a photo bore is perfectly acceptable
I used to find my friends posting pictures of their kids on social media a bit tedious, after all it’s not their kid’s profile right? Then I had one. As long as your profile remains a good balance of what you are up to/sarcastic and nonsensical banter/what the children are doing then post away and lap up watching your friends kids grow up too. My family don’t see E much because they live some distance away and they enjoy the updates. I stop for no man. Buy a better camera, take pictures, take some more, and then take some more. Capture your growing bump. Don’t regret not having a good camera for the first 4 months of your kid’s life like I do…
10. Time goes too fast
Everyone will tell you this. Listen to them. They are all right about this. I didn’t believe it. Enjoy every second, don’t wish it away because they’re poorly and grumpy. They change so fast and will astound you and then you blink and they’re another month/year older. I bought E’s first shoes on December 1st 2012. It feels like yesterday. It was a whole year ago. I hardly remember my 9 month old. Slurp it all up, then sit and reflect on it.