First of all, please note the irony of the title of this post. Obviously at 5 weeks I can’t claim to be any kind of expert about parenting! But oh my God, what a learning curve!!!
I’ll be honest. I had felt somewhat prepared before I had Josh. But talk about naive. Nothing can prepare you for what parenthood entails!! I feel like I am on a constant learning curve, which at times can be very hard and other times really rewarding.
When I went to my NCT classes, as much as I enjoyed them, a very pretty picture was painted. It all seemed like it would be very natural particularly the breastfeeding. But I think it’s good to be honest about these things and even though I am only 5 weeks in I’ve had some super tough challenges! Being a Mummy is a real eye opener. I already had a tough time after my birth which was a 38 hour soul destroying nightmare (sorry but it was – he was worth it though)! When I got home I had this little person entirely reliant on me but I was, in turn, completely reliant on my husband due to needing recovery! I hated being so out of control of everything and my first big challenge, as with many first time Mums, was breastfeeding.
Before I had Josh, my friend drummed into me to get the baby checked for tongue tie as soon as possible after birth. As many would agree with me I’m sure, tongue tie is surprisingly common so I am so glad my friend told me to get this checked. And he was indeed tongue tied. Fortunately we got him booked in for just a week after he was born so it was just that first week we had to power through. And we did but bloody hell it was hard, it was painful, I had bloody nipples, I was yelping in pain when he’d latch on, and by the time day 5 rolled around and baby blues kicked in I’d just about had enough! However that day Josh got weighed and some how, most likely through sheer determination and perseverance, Josh only lost 3 oz off his birth weight! That was a hell of a moment for me I felt so proud that despite my pain and discomfort and quite frankly misery, I’d provided for my son and kept him a good weight and healthy. Luckily since he got his tongue snipped breastfeeding has improved and although it’s still not the super easy thing that I thought it would be, it’s so much better. I do have a stupid amount of milk so the poor little thing sometimes can’t latch on unless I hand express some off. So I think it’s fair to say, breastfeeding is one of the biggest learning curves for any new Mum to face.
I think the other massive challenge I’ve struggled with which I didn’t really prepare myself for at all, although I know I don’t think you really can prepare for it, is the sleep deprivation. There is a reason why they use sleep deprivation as a form of torture. There have been some nights when I’ve not slept and just spent the next day crying my eyes out. Just before Christmas we had two really bad nights in a row followed by a horrible day and by the time my husband got home I was literally hysterical with tears. I think I spent about 4 hours crying that afternoon and I couldn’t even blame Josh cause even he’d given up by then and gone for a sleep. For me that was a really scary day. Having suffered anxiety and low moods in the past I have always been scared it might creep up on after having a baby, having done some research into baby blues. So to have a really emotional day like that automatically scares you into thinking it’s something more serious. But that shouldn’t be something to immediately be scared of. I think recognising any signs of you not feeling yourself, and taking the right steps to recognise and deal with the situation is a positive and proactive thing. It helps so much to talk to your other half and Mummy friends, because you will quickly recognise that you are not the only one to be feeling that way. Sleep deprivation can seriously make you lose your shit! It doesn’t always mean that it’s leading to anything more serious, but if it is starting to affect you on an almost daily basis then it might be good for you to look at ways to make your life easier especially in those early days. One thing I am considering when I get to six weeks is to express milk so that I can get some extra sleep; Sam takes Josh in the evenings and I go to bed about 8.30 so I can get a couple of hours sleep undisturbed. But of course being on boob duty means you are never really off call so sometimes he has to wake me to feed, and I think having Dad do some feeding in the evenings will take that pressure off (and when I need to nap at other times in the day) plus once we get to six weeks and breastfeeding is established (although I’m convinced it already is, let’s face it he’s 5 weeks old and 11lb and 11oz!!!), it will be a lovely opportunity for Sam and Josh to have some extra bonding time. I know some people don’t agree with expressing but when you’re exhausted and it gives you a chance for an extra hours nap without being woken then I think it’s an absolute must and I have to admit I’ll be so glad when I can do that. There can sometimes be an element of resentment of being just a boob on tap 24/7 when all you want is sleep or a shower that doesn’t have to be over in 2 minutes and I have to admit I hate feeling that way; I don’t like feeling any resentment in that respect so I think this is a step that will really help me and one I know has helped other Mummy friends.
The other thing I’ve quickly learnt, which I touched on earlier, is to accept help and let go of control you’ve clung on to. I have been so lucky to have family and friends come over, clean my house, cook for us, pick up shopping and offer to take Josh whilst I enjoy a long hot shower! I thought I’d struggle with being out of control in that aspect but having had a C Section and a little boy to take care of, I had no choice. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and take the support and help offered to you. I’m so glad I did cause I’m convinced it’s helped me to recover quicker. You quickly learn that life is going to be out of control anyway because believe me, baby will be the one in control of your life and you’ll be following his or her lead. So you may as well go with it until you can adapt into some sort of routine, if that’s what you plan to do (and I can say for sure I will be trying to). Trust me, accept help whenever you can!
As I’ve said, I’m only 5 weeks into being a Mummy. And although we’ve come up against challenges and had tough days, it’s so worth it. I love Josh so much he is so gorgeous and he has recently started to smile which just melts me! And most of all I’ve no doubt I have got LOADS more to learn! It seems that’s what parenting is; a constant lesson. And you just have to remember in the tough times that it’s so worth it. Having a baby and my little family is everything I ever dreamed of and I am so blessed with what I have. It sounds corny but that’s what you have to remember in those darker moments. You can read every pregnancy book going before you have your baby and as helpful as they can be, nothing can fully prepare you for what being a Mummy entails. It is the hardest but most rewarding, beautiful and happiest job in the world! Us Mummy’s have to stick together and lean on each other in moments where you need encouragement and praise each other when things are going well!
Welcome to Motherhood! I can’t wait to see where my journey continues to go and share it with you all – good times and bad! We can learn from all of them.
Thanks for reading