Now that my little dude is 19 months and counting, I sometimes find myself looking at both him and me and wondering how the hell we actually made it this far!?
My crippling experience with Post-Natal Depression aside, when it came to the mechanics of actually being a mum, I had no bloody clue what I was doing.
I mean zero.
I would have known more about picking up puppy than an actual human baby. I’d never changed a nappy, made a bottle, put on a onesie or really held a baby properly before I became a parent.
And it’s the strangest thing because, it is probably the most responsible job in the world… I mean you’re given a real, tiny, precious life to look after and yet with no qualifications, exams, interview process or proper scrutiny of any kind and very little instructions, other than that hoard of leaflets you get as you lie bleary eyed and exhausted in the bed, you’re meant to just know what to do.
As if the moment the child is thrust into your arms, your mammy genes kick in and off you go.
Complete and utter steaming horse shit!
None of us have a bloody clue what we’re doing. We’re all petrified we’re doing it wrong. We’re all googling things like - ‘green baby poo normal,’ and ‘can I die from no sleep?’ once we get home. We’re all secretly shitting a brick and thinking, is this really what being a parent is like?
Somehow though we all muddle through that baptism of fire. We come out the other side of newborn fog and look back on those days with a mixture of horror and laughter, trying to understand how we all survived.
With hindsight though if I was ever to get pregnant again and have another baby, there are a few things I would hope I’d be much more relaxed about this time around, or indeed even laugh at with huge cynicism.
The Public Health Nurse (PHN) Visit
Okay, before I get accused of tearing down the sacred bastion that is the PHN, let me stop you. I have nothing but respect for the PHN, I couldn’t do their job, not even for one day. They are awesome fonts of knowledge and despite some of them having a tough shell, they care a huge deal. That said, the PHN visit had me up to 90. I cleaned and fretted about this stranger coming into my house to secretly judge me and my complete lack of mothering skills, when I should have been focusing on my new baby and my own recovery. If there’s a next time? I wouldn’t give a toss. My house isn’t tidy? Sorry sister, I’ve got a newborn and a toddler, suck it up. Also as knowledgeable as you are and as much as I appreciate your advice, you’re not God and your approval actually doesn’t mean anything.
Complete and utter rubbish!! If I could throw this term in the bin, set the bin on fire and run over it with my car I would. It’s just a made up term to scare new mums. Yes, it’s important to put the baby on his or her tummy as often as you can, but don’t get obsessed with it! My parents and their parents would have done this as a matter of routine without the term tummy time being held over them like some kind of veiled threat the PHN checks and ranks you on.
Another moniker I was terrified of. Yes, okay, it’s important to place the baby differently in the cot or Moses basket to avoid a flat head, but it is not the end of the world it if happens. It will get corrected in its own good time. No need to let it consume your thoughts along with the infamous Tummy Time.
I’d Bin So Much Crap
First time parents want to make sure they have all the essentials and if you’re anything like me, you’re a sucker for a supposedly genius product… Alas there was so much stuff I bought that was utter crapola. So let me save you the hassle and don’t bother buying any of these –
Soother sterilisers, electric bottle warmers, thingamajigs to keep baby socks on, the bumbo, the nappy genie and any clothes that do not have poppers. And BTW if you find baby onesies with zips instead of poppers, by every single one you see! Now they are bloody genius!
Freaking Out Over the Umbilical Cord
Oh dear God, the umbilical cord and waiting for it to fall off. It terrified the life out of me. When will it fall off, have I cleaned it right, God it looks wrong on so many levels! It was just beyond gross… although I wish I could go back and tell myself that in a few months’ time I’d be scrubbing human excrement out of the bath and landing with old baby barf encrusted into my leggings, so in the grand scheme of things the cord wasn’t so bad.
And Here’s One Extra For Good Measure… Telling Visitors To Naff Off!
Okay maybe not naff off, but unless you’re coming over to bring some food, offer to look after the baby while I have a shower, or hold him/her while I enjoy a cup of tea, or help out in some other way, you can take a rain check on that visit until I’m back on my feet. Last time out, I was fighting a severe infection in my stitches, sweating buckets and literally could not sit down while I had to entertain a constant stream of visitors. Next time, my foot will be welded to the floor.