Letter to a first time mother from a second time mother
Do you ever look back at your experience with your first baby and wish you’d done things differently? Or simply laughed at how naive and inexperienced you were? Or marvel at what you now consider so much free time and wonder why you ever thought it was difficult the first time around?!
Here is a letter. It’s to me as a first time mother from me as a second time mother. All the things I wish I could say to my past self…
Dear Me, as a First Time Mother,
Congratulations! You’re pregnant!
I am so happy for you. You are about to enter the best, hardest and most rewarding job of your life.
I’m going to give you a few tips, because I know you! I am you! I’m just an older, wiser and definitely more grey and tired version of you. I know you’ll want to prepare things to the enth degree before your little one arrives so here is my advice…
You don’t get a medal for having the baby au natural, so don’t get caught up in the way that your baby comes into the world. Whether its via a C-section or a natural birth, the most important thing is that both you and the baby are healthy and well. The same goes for feeding, if it’s breastfeeding or formula feeding, as long as your baby has a full tummy that is the ONLY thing that matters.
LISTEN to all the people who are giving you tips and advice when you’re pregnant! I know they become annoying and some will be completely wrong, but they have actually had a child or two; you haven’t. Simple as that. They are already infinitely more experienced than you. I know you’ll think somehow your mother instinct will take over and you’ll know what to do but they are genuinely trying to make life easier for you. Having a baby is probably the hardest thing you’ll ever do. There is so much to learn every single day, so any tips that can make things easier for you, WELCOME with open ears. Listen.
Start with good sleep habits S T R A I G H T A W A Y, seriously, winging it is all very well if it works but the reality is that it doesn’t always work. Babies are born doing what ever the heck they like over 24 hours a day; they have no idea what day and night is. You can gently ease that into them, but if you don’t start a pattern for your day, you could end up with a baby who sleeps too much during the day and wants to party all night. If you start a pattern earlier on you’ll know much quicker what is going on with your baby as you’ll be able to rule out hunger or tiredness and figure out if they actually have a sickness. Which brings me to my next point.
Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor. Most of your friends are probably going to think you’re a hypochondriac, but your babies are actually going to have reflux, colic, eczema, constipation, motion sickness, allergies, lactose intolerance, infinite ear infections, colds and any other weird and wonderful virus you can catch, such as hand foot and mouth. You may even wonder what that is, but don’t worry you and Luke are going to contract that too! You’ll find that out all in your first year, while your house is turned into a pharmacy by the end of it too. You’ll be on a first name basis with your GP and a few different specialists, so get health insurance as soon as she’s born.
Lower your standards in your household. Or get a cleaner. Ideally a cleaner as you’re not going to have ANY time. Talking about no time, you’ll think you don’t have any time with a newborn… You are definitely not going to have any time when you have a newborn and a toddler. I’m actually surprised that I’ve got time to even write this letter. If you have to choose between vacuuming and resting, always choose rest.
Don’t compare your baby to other babies in your coffee or mothers group. They all eventually learn to walk! They will all eventually learn to chew and drink from a cup. Don’t worry if your baby did it a few weeks or months after the others. No one will care when they are 10 years old.
Let your baby get messy, let them experiment with food. Don’t worry about your flooring and your high chair; you’ll have to clean it ten billion times a week.
Everything is usually just a phase. THANK GOODNESS. That month that feels like a year when she’s 8 months old and waking at 5.15am, it will eventually go. I promise. Just stick with what you’re doing. She is probably just learning to crawl and is practicing in her cot. You’ll also probably find her waking and chatting to herself at 2am too. Its nice and quiet at night, so she can hear her own voice. Unfortunately you’ll wake to every single noise she makes and by the time she’s 1 you’ll be ready to do it all again with her sibling.
Buy ANYTHING that can make your life easier! Whether its an electronic breast pump instead of a manual one, or a secondhand cot off the internet because your toddler is still using the other one or a swing because your newborn won’t sleep laying down from undiagnosed reflux. BUY IT! You’ll be able to sell it again. Those first months are hard. Whatever you buy doesn’t have to be the newest and most expensive thing in the world. The baby doesn’t care if they have a $3000 pram or a second hand one, or the fanciest baby cream from an organic shop or one from the supermarket.
Make time every day to sit down and have a break, put your feet up and have a cup of tea. Whether its for 5 minutes or half an hour. Do it. Motherhood is your job. Treat it as one. Make time to have a break.
Have an activity to do by yourself because you can be sure your hubby will make time to go to the pub with his friends or play golf. Don’t get resentful if you haven’t made time to do something for yourself, even if its just going to the shops on your own, or getting your nails done.
Make sure you’ve got a support person for when your baby is a newbie, preferably someone who has already had a baby. Everything is going to be new and you’ll need to have someone to ask, even if it’s just how to use a steriliser and when to express. This being a mother is hard and you are going to be part of the club.
Ask for help! It is something you don’t do. It wasn’t that long ago we (as a society) all would have been living in close proximity to our mother, grandmother and sister who would be in our houses helping cooking, cleaning and doing the washing while we looked after the baby. You are going to need help, no one expects you to do this on your own; don’t be afraid to ask.
Always remember, First Time Mother, that you will get through it, you have to – because I did. And that baby you’re holding is the best thing that will ever happen to you.
You, as a Second Time Mother xx