Remember when you used to lie-in on a Sunday morning after having a few wines? When you had time to put on some make-up and brush your hair? Remember when you used to pluck your eyebrows and not have facial hair? Or sleep? Remember when you last had a full night’s sleep? Or a hot cup of tea? Nope. Those days are gone sunshine. But it’s been a pretty amazing year hasn’t it? People will tell you the first year will fly – but you don’t quite believe it. It’s been the toughest year of my life. But also the best. And it gets easier right? I mean toddlers must be a breeze...
So what have I learned since becoming a new mum? What words of wisdom would I like to pass on?
Okay, maybe a few more things…..
1. You can’t prepare for being a mum
You can read all the baby books in the world, google everything, download sleep routines, talk to all the mums you can find. But nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind of green poos, mustard poos, the first solid poo (HOW DOES IT SMELL THAT BAD?), the exhaustion, the routine-stress, naps – oh fucking naps are the devil, the cracked nipples, when your baby first smiles (your heart will stop), when they laugh, when they do something for the first time and you want to shout out to the world “MY BABY IS A GENUIS”, then they do a big poo explosion, the constant worry, routine, routine, routine, having to live with the fact your saggy ass boobs will remain saggy ass forever, the mum guilt, the really, really tough days, the monotony, the unconditional love, when they wrap their tiny fingers around yours, saying goodbye to your ‘carefree’ life – you can’t prepare for any of it. There is no manual for your baby. All babies are different. And you know your baby better than anyone – remember that. Oh - and everyone else is just winging it too.
2. The first six weeks are HARD
Those early weeks are tough. And you don’t quite understand how tough it is going to be until you’re sat alone at 1.30am, trying to get your four-day-old baby to latch on to a cracked nipple. And you’re so tired. So so so tired. And you feel so lonely. And you’re sat on a rubber ring. You haven’t been able to poo yet. And you’re scared. To poo. And you’re just scared because you have this little baby in your arms and you really don’t know what you’re doing. And, well you never really do. But you’ll get through it. And some days you will even wish you could go back to those days – get one more newborn cuddle because you will regret not treasuring those moments. However hard they were, you won’t remember them ever being that small, or how they ever just laid still and didn’t pull your hair.
3. There are a lot of white noise machines
And you will probably end up buying them all. Or at least spend half of your fucking maternity pay on a white noise machine that doesn’t actually fucking work. (Bit of a soft spot, can you tell?)
4. Hangovers and babies do not mix
“I’ll just have one more drink, I’ll be fine in the morning, we can go to the farm! Swimming!” The soft play!" Nope. Nope and definitely nope – YOU NEVER WANT TO GO TO A SOFT PLAY HUNGOVER. OR DURING HALF TERM.
5. Mum guilt is real
You will feel guilty for feeling guilt about feeling guilty. And judged. So judged. Judged for breastfeeding. Judged for not breastfeeding. Judged for not making your own chicken stock. Judged for going back to work. Judged for deciding not to go back to work. Judged for wanting a break. Judged for not wanting to spend a night away from your baby. Judged for having a drink. Judged for losing your baby weight. Judged for not. Judged for basically everything. But trust your instincts. Do what is best for you and your baby.
6. Your love for your baby is overwhelming
The love you feel for your baby will some days take your breath away. Like literally stop you in your tracks, you have never known a love like it. It’s a deep, in the gut, totally overwhelming, fiercely protective love that knows no bounds.
7. Women are strong as fuck (pardon my French)
We are all struggling one way or another – some more than others – and that’s nothing to feel ashamed about. Just because being a mum might not be all rainbows, giggles and joy every second of the day – it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mum, or you love your baby any less. And it doesn’t mean you don’t feel lucky, or grateful – you can feel lost and alone and sad, but still feel so lucky to be a mum. And it’s okay to ask for help. From sharing my own experiences with PTSD, I have been overwhelmed with the amount of messages of support and all the messages from other mums who can relate to my experience. Some who I know personally, who I never knew had been through such trauma. But as one mum said – as mothers, we find the strength from somewhere. We may feel like we are failing, or we can’t see our way out of the dark, or we simply don’t think we can take another sleepless night with our husband snoring away next to us (HOW CAN THEY SLEEP?), but we do. And you’re never alone. Remember that.
8. The world becomes a scarier place
You will be so much more aware of the tragedies that take place in the world and you will worry so, so SO much more. The world does seem scarier than it ever did before. All you want to do is protect your child forever. And with that – your own life becomes more important. I’m not saying I didn’t value my life before – but I definitely think about the future more and I hope with all my heart that I will be around to see my baby boy grow up and have his own family.
9. Your respect your parents more
You love your parents more than you ever did because you now know how much they really love you. They have been through the four-month-sleep regression and survived - and I'm a twin so double respect goes out to my mum and dad! And a particular high five goes out to your own mum as you know how much she has been through and sacrificed (boobs and hips and a few other things).
And finally, probably the most important one…
10. CBeebies is life
You will learn so much from CBeebies you will find yourself watching it when you’re not even with your baby. Hey Duggee is literally the BEST programme in the world. And like I said, you learn so much. The other day from Bing you know what I found out? “You know the rule. If it isn’t a wee, paper or poo. You mustn’t put it down the loo.” Fucking life-changing.
So yeah, it’s been a rollercoaster. Of the highest highs – and at times, some real lows. And I’ve cried – a lot. But it’s been pretty fucking fabulous too.
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.