Before you become a parent, I’m pretty sure the majority of us have a pretty clear outlook of the kind of parent we are going to be. However, in reality there is no manual, and when it’s your first baby you’ve never done this job before! There is nobody to give you a handover, no staff training, and no manager above you to offer guidance or take some the flack if it all goes t*ts up.
Here is a list of things that naive pre-mummy Jamie vowed she would or would not do, and now laugh at that fact:
No dummies. If you put a dummy in your child’s mouth you are obviously overlooking another need they may have. Ha! Harper as a small one used to cry ALL THE TIME. A dummy really helped. Babies need comfort and in reality, we can’t give this to them all the time. We need to catch snippets of sleep for a start! Use of a dummy for us was a life saver, it really helped relax H’s belly during her colicky phase by sucking on something that wasn’t producing milk, and it slightly reduced the crying.
No salt or sugar. During pregnancy I decided that H wouldn’t have any ‘crap’ food until she was at least over a year. Nine months in and whilst I’m not feeding her a preocessed cheese burger, she has tried things like a french fry, chocolate cake, dairy free chocolate buttons, and on a really hot day when my car had broken down and we were stranded roadside she even had a cola flavoured ice lolly.
No cosleeping. As anyone that follows my blog knows, I was not blessed with a sleeper. Pre pregnancy I had ideas of my baby sleeping soundly in a bassinet next to bed, only waking for milk, and then going into their own room at 6 months as recommended. For the first 8 months, H slept in bouts of less than two hours at a time and it was exhausting. I began to feel my lack of sleep made me a risk in the day, and I sometimes fell asleep feeding her in the night so I resorted to feeding her on the floor to avoid a fall. Around 3 months we began co-sleeping. We followed guidelines on how to do so safely, and it did really help. I think I was on route to a breakdown had we not done this and we continued it until around 7 months. Whilst it didn’t improve her sleep tons, it did mean that I could tend to her much easier and get myself quickly back to sleep.
Baby would fit into my lifestyle. Ha ha! This one is absolutely laughable. I envisaged that I would still go out for dinner, baby in tow, wearing my size 10s days after birth. Makeup and hair beautifully done, of course. I barely have time to brush my hair (secret: some days I forget!), let alone put on a face of makeup. And taking my screaming non-sleeping baby to a grown up establishment in the evening!? Laughable! Oh well, lesson learned.
It wouldn’t affect our marriage. This is a big one for me. During my pregnancy and the days after H was born, my husband and I were stronger than ever. I loved him so much for helping me l create this beautiful little life. But once the sleep deprivation began, the reality of what a massive responsibility we now had, the fact that “mum” had in many ways replaced “Jamie” this fairytale began to crack. Relationships post-baby are so tough. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but some days I feel so angry with him sometimes for things that are often out of his power. I feel angry for often being the one reponsible for the mundane like packing a changing bag, sorting H’s tea, making sure that her routine is on track. I feel angry that he gets to leave the house and only think about him self, with no baby in tow, and sit in his office and drink a hot cup of coffee whilst he pieces together his thoughts. This list goes on and I feel a whole other blog post is stirring in my belly, but you get the idea.
But the final thing I was wrong about, and it’s a biggie, is how much I would love H. I imagined this strong love that I would feel, but in truth I could have never imagined hard enough just how huge this love would be. It’s a love that consumes your entire body, and whilst my life isn’t perfect it is perfect for me and I would NEVER trade it in for a second. We all do what we think is best, and there is no one size fits all. We do what gets us through the day (and night), what works for our family, and the thing is – we are all winging it most of the time!
Hang in there mama, we got this.