After reading her list of things she learnt, I’m participating in Learner Mama’s linky with this post. So here are ten random things that I’ve learnt as a first-time mother. As we’re only 18 months into this journey, there are many more things I’ve yet to learn.
1. The post-pregnancy you still looks heavily pregnant for quite a while afterwards. There was so little difference just after having my baby that I was asked when I was due a week after giving birth! I had expected to wear baggy clothes, not to keep going with the third trimester maternity wear.
2. Pelvic floor muscle exercises – we all know you’re supposed to do them religiously, and that it will help with labour and recovery. It was only when I first got out of the hospital bed to hobble to the shower that I really understood why. Suddenly I didn’t appear to have any muscles in that general area at all. Only the fact that I wasn’t peeing as I walked (I had to check repeatedly!) reassured me that they must still be there and doing something.
3. I thought I was scared of giving birth. Nothing like the terror of the first bowel movement after having stitches.
4. People either lie, or must have blocked out the worst of their newborn parenting experience. Don’t believe for a second that you have the only baby that is up all night. Also don’t rely on advice that it gets easier after the first X weeks or months. Your darling child will only see that as a challenge.
5. Everyone who parents differently to you is liable to take your choices as a criticism of theirs, even your own parents. Because you can only stay sane on maternity leave by getting out of the house and sharing your experiences (ie. having a good old moan), you will naturally gravitate towards new friends that share most of your views. Otherwise you either have avoid all topics involving your child, or will spend your time defending all your choices.
6. Doesn’t matter how great your marriage is. Sleep deprivation and the sound of your baby crying incessantly will break you in the middle of the night. It’s surprising how much hatred you can feel for your other half as you pace the floor with a screaming baby and they (somehow) manage to blissfully sleep through most of it.
7. We all make mistakes, we all do the best we can. Trust your instincts. Doesn’t matter how many parenting books you read, or ‘experts’ you talk to, every baby and family is different. Only you can figure out what works for your family. It’s ok if that’s not what ‘everyone else’ thinks is the right thing to do.
8. Babies can vomit in their sleep. There are few things worse than finally getting baby to sleep in the middle of the night only for them to vomit all over you, themselves, the bedclothes… Despite your previous notions of being a good parent, you will briefly entertain the notion of leaving them to lie in their soiled clothes until they wake up rather than disturb them.
9. Having a baby makes you stupid. ‘Baby brain’ will make you stupider than any stupid person you’ve ever met. And it may not go away (18 months and still waiting).
10. It’s a cliche, but being a parent really is so much harder than you could ever have imagined, but also so much more rewarding. I knew that in theory, but can only truly understand it now that I am a mother.
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