It’s your friend, future you… (I know, clever huh?!)
I wanted to write to you to tell you some things you probably don’t want to hear, because I know how stubborn you are, but I’m hoping because it’s coming from yourself you might actually listen.
You’ll find this out, but it’s really hard being a mother and having a friend who is pregnant for the first time. I want to be able to download all my knowledge directly into your brain, because speaking it aloud never comes out right. It all sounds like clichés or doom and gloom or rose-tinted rubbish.
I also know you don’t really want to hear it. I remember, you’re thinking “can everyone just nob off, I want to figure this out for myself.” And “It can’t be that hard, people have been doing it for years”. In fact, you’re probably feeling the rage simmering below the surface right now as you read, waiting for me to say something that will seem just condescending enough to tip you over the edge.
Instead, you might turn to a baby book or the internet to do your own research, preferring instead to listen to self professed experts, “official” advice and the tumultuous roar of Netmums forums peddling every type of parenting method on the market with little empathy for other parents.
That’s fine if that’s what you want to do. I’ve been there. I know the drill.
There’s a secret I really want to let you in on though. A secret that only parents know. A secret that you’ve heard a hundred times before but don’t recognise the significance.
I’m guessing since you’re still reading you kind of want to know, so here it goes…
Being a parent is
Anticlimax? …But do you really get it?
Please don’t think I’m being negative, I’m just being plain honest. I know first time pregnancy is an equally wonderful and scary time, full of unknowns, in a temporary limbo between being a non-parent and being a parent. You know generally what to expect. You’re prepared for dirty nappies, you’ve researched how to get good attachment when breastfeeding, you know that sleep is often hard and you’ll probably have to feed the baby in the night. You genuinely believe that you’ll be absolutely fine, and that it can’t really be that bad, and you’re fed up of doom and gloom posts about new mothers crying on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night (I think you actually said all that in a Facebook post!)
And really, you’re right. You’ll make it through.
But… I would emphasise the fact that it IS hard. And I’d encourage you to not to underestimate that, and to be mentally prepared.
I don’t mean to frighten you, and I’m really not trying to be negative. I’m absolutely not saying you won’t be able to handle it, because you absolutely will. You will find ways to cope because… Well, firstly, because you have no other option, and secondly because there’s a tiny life depending on you and that’s a great motivator, and thirdly because you’re stronger than you think.
I won’t spoil the surprise – you might be a super organised & resilient parent, or have a baby that naturally falls in line with your routine, but chances are you might feel just as lost at times as most parents do. Just as shell shocked and overwhelmed, just as terrified, just as clueless.
And that’s totally normal.
And if you know that that’s normal before you head into it, it can relieve a whole lot of doubt in those early days when things aren’t going the way the internet said they would.
But here’s the second part to the secret.
It’s not forever.
Each challenge comes, and each challenge goes. It can feel like it will never end when you’re there in the thick of it, but it will end, you will get through and you will be doing a good job. You’re about to do one of the most amazing things in the world and birth a whole human being. If you can do that, you can handle anything mama!
One final, and very important piece of advice…
Go have as many lie ins as you can, and enjoy leaving the house unburdened with stuff. Take your time when you shop and meet up with your friends for leisurely coffees. Cuddle your husband and have uninterrupted conversations. Savour it! Oh, and finish the damn baby room before she gets here!
Here are some posts you should definitely read before bubs arrives – I’ve got a feeling they might save you a bit of sleep and frantic googling when the time comes.
Sending all my love and support.