When Amelia was a few weeks old her godfather (childless), our really good friend said ” You signed up for this shit”, in response to my husband moaning about being tired due the sleepless nights (bless him, the 6 months of breastfeeding was draining him!). This is partly true, we did sign up for this, however, no one goes into parenthood for the first time, knowing what lies ahead. No preparation, classes or chats with friends can teach you what the reality is like.
Whether you are a child minder, from a large family, have nieces/nephews or are a healthcare professional, until you have your own baby and are responsible for this little soul, you know very little about the sleepless nights, tears (mum,dad & baby), not showering, not eating, and having arguments at 3 am about who is more tired.
I am a nurse, and remember thinking when I was pregnant, that I would be fine with the sleepless night, sure I had being doing 12.5 hour nightshifts for the last 13 years between being a student nurse and on qualifying. The big thing I forgot here is pre baby, when I did an all nighter, be it work or out with friends drinking in London, I got to have uninterrupted sleep for at least 10 hour the next day. Although for my whole pregnancy, we had builders next door, needless to say that we were NOT friends. Many mornings after a busy night shift in a central London A&E Department, the builders got the wrath of my tongue.
I was thrilled when I found out I was pregnant, and wished away the next 9 months, because lets face it, pregnancy, as exciting as it is, it can also be pretty boring, so you have a lot of time on your hands to think about the baby (this time use to be devoted on my nights off to my friends Pinot Grigio,Vodka and Corona). Once Amelia arrived,the first month was a whirlwind of getting to know her, figure out what the hell I was doing (I’m still figuring this out), visitors and introducing her to all our family and friends. She was born on a Saturday & did not have her first bath until Thursday, they did not bath the babies in the hospital, and I was so nervous, so I waited for my mum to come. She did the first bath, and to be honest, the second and third one too,until eventually picked up the courage to do it myself. Looking back, I was so tired, that everything seemed like such a mission.Paul went back to work, and then it was just Amelia and I, left in the house.
Some days I got dressed, other days I didn’t bother. What was the point, if I was not going anywhere I’d change out of one milk stained PJ’s into a clean one. The bed sheet would have to be changed daily, after being soaked in leaking milk from the night before, oh how glamorous. Some nights, if I thought of it, I would put an Inco Sheet down and sleep on that. I used the breast pads, but they just slipped out every night, so I gave up. They don’t stick. There were many days of tears, where Amelia would feed all day long, I was hungry, thirsty, needed the toilet, afraid to leave her for a second. In the early weeks, I would wait until the evening for my husband to come home, and then have a shower. When Amelia was about 3 weeks, I attempted to have a shower while she was sleeping in her mosses basket, only to come out to hear her choking (she wasn’t, she was coughing), that was the end of me showering in the daytime for a while.
Crying…why? Was she hungry, thirsty, cold, too hot, need a nappy change? Where was the app to tell me this. I regret not giving her a soother/dummy, as I think it would have made my life a whole lot easier. She could have fed all day long if I let her, so we never had the routine of feed every 2 hours and sleep for 2 or whatever babies are meant to do, we just winged it. She has never been a good sleeper, though we are going through a good patch with sleep at the moment, but I know only too well that having a baby gets easier, then harder, then easier, then harder and so on. At 4 months she started to sleep 7-7 and we thought great, this hasn’t been too bad, it lasted a week! Now she sleeps 7-7 with two naps in the day, 2 hours and 1 hour, but this can vary.
What I have learned in the last 13 months of having Amelia is that :
*Its ok to leave your baby with someone and have some time to yourself, they wont kill them (I’m referring to my husband here).
* No one tells you that you will be arguing at stupid o’ clock about nappy changes or who did it last.
* It’s ok to reminisce and talk about what life was like pre baby (no need to feel guilty), we all do it.
* It’s ok to feel like punching someone in the face (sorry how very un PC of me),every time you are told to “enjoy her while she is small, they grow up so quick”, when you are so delirious with tiredness, that you feel there is nothing to enjoy,
*Don’t stress when your baby is crying in public, it’s not half as loud as you think.
*Don’t worry about your house being dirty or untidy, you can guarantee someone else’s is far worse.
* Don’t be stressing about getting back into your pre pregnancy clothes, half mine still don’t fit. Your body shape changes after pregnancy, my hips are defiantly wider.
* It’s ok to stay in your PJ’s and watch crap TV, box sets or whatever you fancy all day in the first few weeks. However, you need to get out and about and meet friends, go to mummy and baby groups or just take a walk, it is good for your mental health.
So, has this been the best year of my life? No, that would have been the first year of marriage, loads of holidays and going out with friends. It has been the most stressful and tiring year I have every had.We had our first baby, in a country without family support, moved house and country, but have survived. There have been some really crap days, which I still have sometimes, and the really good days. However, it has been the start of the best THING in my life. I love every bone in her body,every day she makes me laugh (and cry sometimes), and I look forward to eventually doing it all over again.
How was your first year as a mum? Would love to hear your thoughts & experience.
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T & A xxxx