‘Oh gosh, the things I wish I knew about before becoming a mother.’ The amount of times I’ve said this sentence to my mother groups is extraordinary. I’m a learner – I love sinking my teeth into new courses, as well as reading every ‘how-to’ book imaginable and looking up blogs online – all so I can be as prepared as I possibly can be.
Nothing can prepare you for motherhood.
However, as part of this blog series, I’m going to share all the things I wish I knew about before becoming a mother, as well as things I’ve picked up from other new mum’s along the way. With part 1 of the series, let’s start at the beginning…
There is light at the end of the tunnel or 4th trimester. (?)
The nights are long and so are the days, but the weeks are going to go by quickly. The first few months of having a baby are crazy! You have no idea what you’re doing, you’re sleep deprived and oh god, the hormones! I remember breaking down to my husband one Sunday evening, telling him how much I love my little boy and how I know I’ll be a great mum – but, I told him, I’m not a newborn mum. And even as the haze of newborn life is starting to disappear, I still stand by this comment. One day you’re crying in the lounge covered in milk and spew, and the next you’re waking up with a jolt in the morning because your baby has slept from 6pm to 6am and is yet to wake for a feed. It happens quicker than you think, and soon enough you’ll be crying because your baby isn’t a newborn anymore and they’ve lost their scrunch.
Taking a moment is important
You are not the only person that can look after your baby. Of course, this will look different for many of us but it’s okay to ask for help or defer parenting to the other parent. Very early on I started having a mumma’s day out – it’s in my calendar so I remember to do this each fortnight. Whether it’s going for a walk alone, getting your nails done, or grabbing a coffee at the local cafe alone – having a moment to yourself is important. And when I say this I don’t mean a shower or toilet break. Getting outside your home and having a break is so important for your soul, it’ll remind you of yourself and give you a moment to breathe. It’s also really important for your partner to be in control of your new baby and be the main parent for a while, so that you both can become more of an equal team in this parenting life.
Depression and anxiety can look different for others
As a little bit of a Type A personality, I’ve always been extremely organised. Well, when the hormones hit after the birth of TJ, this became somewhat of an obsession. Everynight before bed I had to make sure all of TJ’s equipment was in the right place, otherwise I just couldn’t sleep. And if anyone moved something – they were in trouble!
It’s only now that the newborn haze has started to fade that I can reflect and admit that I had Postnatal Anxiety. To the outside world, it seemed like I had my s**t together (although in my eyes I was more of a s**t show) but it was more than that. I had a lot of comments from friends and family on how amazing I looked and how well I was dealing with this, but truth be told I was a ball of anxious energy and I felt completely lost. It was only when someone asked how I really was that I finally broke down and started to talk honestly and openly about the way I was feeling.
Don’t buy all the fancy things – yet
Oh the money that I wasted! Don’t tell my husband that I’m actually admitting to this because I’ll deny it. I felt like I needed to be prepared for all the things (see Type A) and that meant having all the stuff that was recommended to me (mostly on TikTok late at night!). But the reality was that I didn’t need it all and I certainly didn’t need it all there and then. I recently started clearing out the newborn items we no longer need from the nursery and realised I had 12 blankets – 9 of which were never used!
Your relationship changes
Oh the moment I watched my new little baby in my husband’s arms, I fell a little more in love with him. There is something amazing about watching your partner become a parent and the love that they give your beautiful child. But with that, some of the attention that was on each other is now on this new family member and that means that things change. I’ve found that it’s important to take some time (even when we’re both exhausted) to just sit on the couch together and have a chat. To reconnect and remember who we are as a couple, not just as sleep-deprived new parents.
You’ll be tired even when you sleep
It’s easy to think that once your baby is sleeping for larger blocks of time or even **insert fireworks** through the night(!) that you’ll feel rested and recharged. Well, I’m still waiting… It’ll happen one day I’m sure, but even once your little one is sleeping through you’ll probably be just as tired as you’re running around all day after another person and it’s a big (rewarding) job.
You’ll parent different
Okay, once again see Type A personality. I parent very differently from my husband and neither of us are right or wrong. Allowing each other to shine as parents is important not just to your baby but your relationship – give each other some space to breathe and find your feet. Nobody really knows what they’re doing once they become a parent – regardless of how many books they read – so allowing space to learn without judgement will help you become better parents quicker and ultimately make you a better team.