25 Oct New Mum on the block- you will be okay!
Things I’ve learnt as a new mum:
1. First things first. The terminology. Get very comfortable with words you never realised you would have to use quite so much. This is from day one, your first medical appointment. The word boob, breast, nipple, vaginal etc, they will now be used more than you could ever have imaged, so be comfortable saying them, to yourself, your partner, your doctor, nurses, family etc and that’s from someone who works in a breast clinic. It took me quite a while not to blush saying the word “breast” to people other than my hubby! And be confident in using them. It’s your body, if something is going to happen and it involves any of the above, ask questions. I swear, when you do it once or twice it gets easier and less confronting.
2. Enjoy it. Even when it’s tough. I’ll admit I had a beautiful pregnancy so my views have rose coloured glasses on. But when it’s all over, and a few weeks or months pass you will get a tear in your eye thinking about the baby that used to live in there and the kicks and jabs. I understand it’s so tough on some people, but it’s also impossible for others, so if even for one or two minutes in that nine months , cherish it and take a mental memory photo. It’s bizarre and you will at some stage, maybe at 3.15am on week 7 post baby, remember how damn wow that body of yours is.
3. Don’t over buy. That super cute outfit with tulle and polka dots and that newborn dickie bow shirt, they MIGHT be used once. And that’s only IF you remember you bought them before bubba grows out of them and IF they don’t spew two minutes into wearing them. Baby vests and bonds onesies are your best friends. And don’t forget to buy a size up. You will be soo shocked how quickly baby goes up a size and you’re standing there looking into a wardrobe full of beautiful outfits that your babies toes are bursting through.
4. Coffee. Learn to love the stuff.. But also learn how to work with it. Your 4pm coffee fix is not your friend when your bubba decides to sleep that night and your bright eye bushy tailed. On your own. While hubby and bubba look all lovely and snoozy and your counting the ceiling fan spins…
5. Stand up for yourself. Do not, I repeat, do not apologise. This goes across soo much but let’s go with the short and sweet version. If your baby squeals or spews don’t overly apologise. They are babies. It has happened before and it will happen again. It took me a while to chill in public when bubba wanted to exercise his vocal chords. Now I ask if he wants to tell me a story?! Be mannerly but don’t feel uncomfortable in dealing with it. Though that does get easier too.
Also don’t give strangers permission to remark negatively on a baby or the mum. Never allow this. I once did. I never will again. My bubba fed CONSTANTLY from birth. There was literally a few weeks where it was one hour max (if even that) between feeds. And I was going with feeding on demand so I went with it. Myself and hubby strategically planned a coffee date in between feeds. Five minutes there, five minutes back, 20 min coffee and chat with other humans. Winning combo, what could go wrong right?! Well bubba decided to screech as soon as my bum hit the chair and I was getting anxious as the super cool hippy barista was spacing out over frothed milk, so I took him out, calmed him down, didn’t feed him in the packed cafe (that’s my choice and comfort level choice) and he was of course still grizzly. The “lady” to my right (about 2 foot to my right), who sat and gawked (I kid you not, she looked straight at us the entire time like we were a movie finale) turns to her daughter/friend and says “you think they could have fed the child before they came out”. I was stunned. Hubby hadn’t noticed. I was like maybe 4 weeks post natal and slightly anxious and still hadn’t mastered baby in public yet, he had been attached to me 18 out of the last 24 hours and this WAGON decided she would comment. I asked for my coffee in a take away cup and left. I told hubby on the way home and he was not impressed. I just cried.. But now. Well now I have mum balls, now I would have requested she had been ejected from the cafe and I would have gladly and calmly told her how much of a disappointment someone like she is to motherhood. Anyway, that’s another rant entirely. But mum balls, grow them.
6. Ironically, beware of social media and google.
Firstly, while google is a wonderful tool, it’s also the worst thing imaginable. Avoid unmonitored forums and what not for medical advice. Ask your maternal health nurse where they would recommend online for general advice. They will give you a reputable source, so stick to that site and your nurse for advice from then on. Do not allow yourself to read a post from mindy008 at 2am on a Saturday night about how your baby will end up in hospital if you give it water (on the day you’ve given him a sip of water). So yea stick to maternal health nurse, GP and reputable websites. If you do decide to confide in an online mothers group be ready to take some advice and stories with a pinch of salt!
Social media. This one is a world of its own. It will be your connection to the outside world on days when you don’t make it that far. It will be what starts wonderful mum friendships. It will also be the tool that makes you doubt yourself when others claim to be doing it all. And here is the thing, some may be doing it all. To the mum blogging celebrities who post snaps getting your hair and make up done and other photos of you drowning in laundry and spewy babies. I commend you on both sides of the coin. I’m glad you show both sides. But there is also an entire world of us, who aren’t in either scenario. I’m comfortable in the middle. My laundry basket always has something in it but is never full. I’ve gone longer than I care to admit sans make up (my teenage self would be appalled) but I do manage a day or two a week when I can iron a top and put on some make up and even do some tan (Model Co one hour tanner I LOVE you!). And I’m slowly mastering pre planning and prepping things. But am I up at 5am with a perfect mum-bun, make up on, laundry done and dinner in the oven. Nope. But my house is fairing up pretty well (that might change now that crawling/walking is in action). I guess what I’m trying to say is be okay with not being like some of the social media mums. Don’t feel guilty when some post certain things. Be confident in knowing you’re seeing a 2 second snippet of their day. And your accomplishments that day (even if it’s mastering grocery shopping, a doctor appointment, cleaning the house and doing dinner) are in no way lesser than their 2 second snippet of them in their new expensive heels, after a professional tan, eating their delivered gourmet dinner. It’s just different. Not worse or better. Just different. And for heavens sake don’t comment on any of these social media posts in a negative, or even questionable way, the mummy mafia will take you down and it’s not worth it, a strangers online aggressiveness doesn’t have a place in your world (I have witnessed this online, and it wasn’t pretty, and I genuinely feel for the woman at the centre of these things) I have enough going on, I’m sure as hell not letting any mummy mafia officers into my headspace.
7. Friends. And this is one I’m working on. Be confident and comfortable making new ones. You’ll be surprised how many mums you bump into now that will happily make chit chat just because you too made a little person. But old ones. Don’t forget them either. My old buddies and work colleagues etc have been angels at listening to me bring every sentence back to baby talk, so I’ve been trying (badly, but trying) to make sure I still put in effort and interest into their lives, especially if they haven’t had kids yet. No one wants to be that person who goes on and on and on and on. So be proud to talk about your baby, but don’t neglect their lives either.
8.. Supplies and packing. Small but simple rules; never wear white feeding a baby (solids), always bring everything (in the car pram etc) the day you will need that one thing is the day you decided not to bring it, don’t be afraid to tell strangers to not touch or comment on your baby, but also don’t be afraid to introduce your baby to someone who is smiling and waving while waiting for that all important coffee (I genuinely believe this I why our bubba seems to be comfortable in social settings, so far, plus when he is in a smiley mood it genuinely seems to brighten some people’s days..), don’t buy excessive amounts of noisy plastic toys, they won’t all be used, invest in a few that are gentle on the ears (you can thank me later) and that are pleasant distractions when he is refusing to get his nappy changed or finding it hilarious when he discovers how to blow bubbles with food in his mouth. Invest in books. Books don’t date and are wonderful keepsakes.
Karma. I so believe in this. Even if the person you are giving it to, doesnt give it straight back. It will eventually find its way back to you. See someone with a pram, hold the door. See someone looking a little messy, don’t stare (they could have had a rough night), baby having a tantrum, either don’t comment or offer to help, offer to give more room or carry her coffee to the door etc. all of the tiny things you do to make someone’s day easier, will eventually be paid back to you, and I can tell you they are so so lovely.
9. Gut and gumption. Trust your gut. No one knows baby like you (and dad), so when someone says “oh you should do this it worked for us”, thank them, put it in your mental baby file, and genuinely try it if your comfortable doing that, but trust that ultimately you’ll know what works, and what works for someone else might not work for you, and vice versa.
Gumption. Start stocking up on it. Cheesy as it sounds. Suddenly your purpose is to protect this small gurgling thing. And you’ll do anything to do that. So have some confidence in yourself and the rest will come naturally.
10. Don’t worry so much. This one was my big one. I heard sooo many stories while I was pregnant. About breastfeeding being hell. About post natal depression. Anything and everything. You name it. So I always worried, what if that happens to us? I’m lucky that everything for us has gone so so well so far. But one lady did tell me something that stuck with me. She told me that with one of her babies, after she had them and the baby was handed to her, instead of all the feel good feelings and love, her initial reaction was negative. Basically that someone so small caused her so much pain. And she didn’t feel all the warm and fuzzy things. Now this passed and she did get help and this is now many years later, and she is a wonderful mum! But it stuck with me, if that ever was to happen, things would be okay. It’s not the end of the world. And I think that when all we see are these warm and fuzzy heart felt photos of mums and dads and new babies, it’s easy to forget that for some, that might not be a true reflection, and that’s okay, it doesn’t make them a bad mum, people adjust at different speeds. I’m not gonna lie. When I felt those crazy intense love feels it was a relief. When baby latched on, it was a relief. But I was prepared that if these things didn’t happen, it’s fixable and it’s not a reflection on us or bubba. So essentially, you will be okay.
Mums, don’t underestimate yourself, you got this!
About the Author
First time mum to a little guy called Ted (#adventuresofted). Figuring it all out as we go along. No one can be prepared for this wonderful, scary mumventure!