You’ve spent 9 months preparing for your new arrival and when they finally arrive (hopefully after a drama free birth) you start your parenting journey. You’ve been re-born as a parent. I was Ashley 2.0, a completely different person than I had been just 24 hours before, and now I was on my own – so to speak – with this little baby that I’d had no training in caring for.
No matter how many books you read, or how many blog posts by mums…ahem…that you find, It’ll never prepare you for the reality of parenthood…I promise. I can promise you this because I really thought I was prepared. I had outlined the kind of mother I wanted to be and it included not allowing my baby to cry it out, never sitting them down in front of the TV and always allowing them to do what they wanted, to be a free spirit. Haha – oh I had no idea!
The beginning is a wave of emotion. You’re so overwhelmed by the fact that you’ve done the one thing that girls have been thinking about there entire lives, its amazing, you’re amazed that you’ve managed it, but then there’s the harsh reality that comes along side it – the baby. The constant crying, the complete and total attachment to you, and then there’s the nights. The sleepless nights, really do mean sleepless…even when you’ve had a pretty rough sleep pattern during pregnancy, that somewhat prepares you, you still manage to drag your exhausted, achy body up for the 10th time that night to feed your little bundle. It’s tough, but somehow you’re on auto pilot. ‘How are you even doing this?’ You’ll wonder, but you just do, because you were made for this.
Now, of course, I am mostly speaking from a womans point of view, its the only reference I have, so please don’t be offended if your a parent, but not a mum, biologically or not, all parents go through the same ups and downs, but this is coming from someone who gave birth naturally, breastfed for a year and went through all the hormones that go with it…hormones…bloody hormones.
So now you’re at home, probably with a man to make you a cup of tea if you’re lucky…that’s all they’re good for anyway, with their useless man nipples… and your baby is crying for food again, on the hour every hour it seems, and its wonderful, but you feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. Shouldn’t you be doing something else too? The cleaning, the vacuuming, the laundry, the dishes. Can you really just sit here are do this…but its not just sitting here and doing this…your body needs to rest and even though you don’t always manage to get those naps in, you should just sit and watch your beautiful creation.
Let your body heal, let your mind only focus on your new baby, try not to worry about anything else, because soon enough a year will go by, and it’ll be even harder when your one year old wants all your attention, and you can’t get away with just sitting and resting anymore. (You will become a supermum who can do everything and still have time to write a blog post about it!)
As a determined breastfeeding mother, it was unfortunate for me, that it look about a week for my milk to come through. We only found out that he wasn’t really getting anything from me, when he was 3 days old. He had his check up and he had jaundice. We were rushed to the hospital and Josh was put under the lights, and given some formula. It was a terrifying time, and for me being so against formula, it was upsetting having to give it to him, but to see his little face light up when he drank, ahh it was such a relief, until his little body was placed under those lights, and you wonder whether he’ll ever make it out…you have to remind yourself that you’re in the best place.
Thats another thing that you get no prior warning for…the worry and anxiety that you have when your life revolves around this little person. You are the one keeping them alive and looking after them, and all of a sudden things that weren’t even a hazard, are now huge hurdles of danger and worry, everywhere you look. You’re scared to leave the house, cross the road, even take a walk…It’s petrifying and nothing can prepare you for it…and it doesn’t go away, it will never go away. Yes, the worry fades slightly, you no longer worry that you’ll fall into a pot hole, crash into a deer or that they’ll choke on the air…but it will fade over time. You get used to the worry, and then it’s no longer an anxiety, but just part of every day life.
Anyway, I went on a tangent…When your milk finally comes in you have these rock hard breasts that will leak everywhere and can shoot pretty far if your up for testing it…its painful and uncomfortable, but again, the pain fades after about 8 weeks, and then you get so comfortable and even proud to whip a boob out and be able to feed your baby as often as they need. I loved breastfeeding, the connection, the ease, the closeness….until you want to eat…eating’s pretty hard. You have to figure out how to hold the baby clamped to your boob, but also eat one handed and balance a plate somewhere too. It’s a skill that interestingly enough, doesn’t take long to master, whilst your man sits there enjoying his meal with his useless man nipples again.
You learn quickly how to do things one handed, I still impress myself to this day with the mastery of one handed – ness. Make a cuppa – no problem, cook a meal – easy peasy, fight off an army with nothing but a breast pump, some nipple cream and still hold the baby – I can do it in my sleep. Bear in mind that only you, the mother, will be able to do this…Dads, in my experience just can’t handle more than one thing at once, let alone when the thing they’re handing is their newborn and its crying in their arms and the doorbell rings, the dog barks, the baby poops all in one go and its like the world is ending. Of course, I’m generalising, my husband is a great father, but us woman just have the ability to stay calm when it all happens at once, which it always does.
Things do get easier as they get older. You get more sleep, which I’ve now been experiencing for the last month or so, and it’s wonderful. You get a little more freedom and can now do some of the things that you used to do pre baby, the giggles and cheekiness is magnetic – but now the scales seem a little unbalanced…and sure enough comes the clingy phase, the babbling phase, the ‘I need to grab every wire and pull down the curtains’ phase…then you can’t take your eyes off them for a different reason.
But, and I know I shouldn’t start a sentence with but, but it’s still the best job in the world, and when things are getting you down or you struggle with everyday life, just remind yourself, you were made to do this.
Well done Mummy, you’re amazing and not alone,
There is a huge community of mums going through the same thing as you right now, don’t be scared to reach out to them. I have done it myself and love to have a good old rant on Instagram stories, and always get back messages from mums experiencing the same thing. It saves you in that moment. Come and join me at ashleyloren.co.uk and reach out. I’m always here to help, and if you fancy watching me combat my day and take a few cute photos now and again, come and join me on Instagram.