If I knew then what I know now, no doubt that those newborn days would have been just a little bit easier. Everything is usually so much easier with the benefit of hindsight.
Becoming a mother for the first time is a daunting experience; everything is completely new and unknown. One of the hardest things to embrace, once past the awe and wonder of the birth of your baby, is the belief that you are the expert in your own baby. ‘An expert? I’ve only known this baby for five minutes, how can I be the expert?’
Days quickly turn into weeks, the weeks into months and before long, you have years of experience under your belt. Only then can you truly appreciate what an amazing job you did and the challenges you conquered in those tentative first months of your baby’s life.
It takes a while to build up the confidence you need as a parent. At first, everything is done with care and caution, but soon enough you learn to trust yourself and the decisions you make for your new family.
I really wish I could travel back through time to send some encouraging words to 25 year old me as I sat in that birthing pool, holding my beautiful daughter for the first time, terrified that I might drop her. If I could, I would tell myself these 10 things:
#1: Trust Your Instincts
I know it’s hard because you feel like you’ve been thrown in at the deep end, but you really are the expert here. The fear you felt when the midwives left the room, leaving you in charge of a brand new human for the first time ever, will never disappear, but you will grow more comfortable with it. That fear and worry is an important part of parenting, it’s what motivates you to be the best mother you can be. You are a mother now. Trust your instincts, listen to your heart, and do what feels right for your family. Don’t worry about what your friends are doing, what so-called baby ‘experts’ are doing or even what the new grandparents think you should be doing.
#2: It Will Get Easier
The brain-crushing exhaustion you feel now will pass. You won’t spend the rest of your life walking around like a zombie. You will get better at picking up your baby’s cues, and then strangers will comment on what a happy baby you have. Your confidence will grow, and then you’ll have the skills and strength to tackle each new stage of development without panicking. Your baby will grow and will start to give you the reassurance you need that you’re doing a good job. She will learn to smile, giggle, cuddle and even tell you how much she loves you. When you know that, parenting couldn’t be easier.
#3: Stop Worrying About The Little Things
I know you lie awake at night, desperately tired but unable to sleep because of the regrets and worries of the day. Please believe me when I say that these things aren’t worth worrying about. You are doing an amazing job, and your baby loves you. Push those worries out of your mind and embrace the sleep you so badly need.
#4: You Are Still You
I know you feel a little lost right now. Some days it feels like you are drowning in washable nappies, unable to climb past the mountain of laundry that only ever seems to get bigger no matter how many loads you do. You spend your days talking about breastfeeding, nappy rash and all of the amazing things your baby has done recently. Motherhood has consumed you, it takes every ounce of energy and every single brain cell just to get it right. And that’s ok. It doesn’t make you any less you. You’re still in there, lurking behind those tired eyes, and you will find yourself again when you have the energy.
#5: Your Friends Understand
I know that sometimes you worry that your friends are getting fed up with you. Or that maybe they don’t need daily updates on how many teeth your daughter has now. Or that maybe they’re getting annoyed at you for never being able to go out. Or that perhaps they don’t always want to stay within a ten minute radius from your house, in case but you need to rush home because your baby needs you. They don’t care. They understand. Trust me. Those friends love you as much now as they did before you entered motherhood mode, and now they love your daughter too. And you’ll be able to repay the favour when they have babies of their own.
#6: You Should Take More Photos Of The Two Of You
You have so many beautiful, heart-warming shots of your baby and husband. They’re lovely, really, and will one day adorn the walls of your house. But where are the photographs of you? There are some, of course, but not enough. I know you haven’t had time to pluck your eyebrows since before the birth, and that your face is 80 percent eyebag these days, but please don’t let vanity get in the way of keepsakes. Make sure you take plenty of photos of you with your baby, because she really won’t be that little for very long.
#7: You Should Take A Moment
It’s easy to get lost in the monotony of everyday life. Changes, feeds, laundry… it’s never-ending. And on top of that, you’re just so tired. But set time aside every so often to think about what you’ve achieved. Look at that beautiful little face; you made that. You gave birth to her, nourished her, and kept her safe from harm. Never let the hugeness of that escape you. You are doing something amazing.
#8: It’s Not Wind
When you see your baby smile at you, don’t dismiss it as wind. It’s not. She’s letting you know that she’s happy, that you’re doing a good job, and that she loves you. Don’t let the health visitor be the one to break the news to you that you’ve missed her first smile because you mistakenly put it down to wind. That smile is your pat on the back, savour it.
#9: You’ll Find A Way To Make It Work
One thing I’ve learnt about you over the past few years, is that you are resourceful and always find a way to make things work. No matter what curveball is thrown at you, you’ll be able to pick it up and run with it. You might lose sleep, worry yourself sick and feel scared that everything is going to come crashing down around you, but it doesn’t. Follow your heart, create the life you want to lead and trust that, as a family, you’ll be able to make that happen. Because you always will.
#10: You Are Doing An Amazing Job
I know it might be hard to believe sometimes, especially when you’re covered in baby sick and have a suspicious brown stain on your knee, but you are doing an amazing job. Your baby is as lucky to have you as you are to have her. She loves you with every fibre of her being. She loves you just as fiercely as you love her. That mama bear feeling will never leave you, and you’ll never want it to. If ever you have a shaky day where you worry that maybe you’re not the best mama you can be, just take a moment to look at your daughter. She is proof enough that you are doing a fantastic job. She is happy, contented and loves you. What more do you need?
Now, let me give you a great big hug. You're awesome. And don't you ever forget it.
Check out BellyBelly’s article of 5 Top Tips For Brand New Mothers.