1. It comes naturally
You hear it all the time don't you? How pregnancy, birth and becoming a mother is the most natural thing in the world. I wholeheartedly believe its an amazing journey, however I have to disagree on the natural part! Being a mum did not come naturally to me, perhaps it was my rough start but I certainly didn't take to it like a duck to water. Everything was a challenge, I lost count the amount of times I demanded the instruction booklet that came with Oli. Some people are just 'naturals' not me I have to work bloody hard just to survive!
2. The only thing that matters is a healthy baby
Of course! A healthy baby is all anyone wants! But every time I hear this quote I cringe. What about mum? Giving birth is an incredible experience, it changes a woman forever. We make our birth plans, see beautiful images of empowered women giving birth and naturally we expect our labour and birth to be smooth sailing. Well what happens when it's not? It doesn't have to be an emergency caesarean for birth to be traumatic for a woman. Anything that goes out of the realms of what the woman expected, was prepared for or felt comfortable with has the ability to deeply affect her. I think back on my birth as a beautiful experience but I wont lie it was traumatic. I felt ripped off for a long time that I didn't get the birth I was planning. It had a negative impact on my start to motherhood and every time I hear "...the only thing that matters is a healthy baby" I think No! Mum matters too! The only thing that matters is a healthy baby, and a healthy happy mama!
3. Breastfeeding sheds the kilos
I call bullshit. I got fatter when I was breastfeeding because I was constantly hungry! Peanut butter toast a billion times a day probably didn't help my cause either. I went into pregnancy thinking woohoo I can eat whatever I want because I'm going to breastfeeding and burn the calories! I went from health nut to sugar addict in a matter of months when I fell pregnant. Well, I will be making more healthy food choices for next time! Hehe
4. Mums group is a supportive environment
Before I start writing this I will mention I have a beautiful mums group who I still see regularly and love! However this wasn't always the case. Before I had Oli I had heard that mums group could be a bit challenging but overall wonderful! Well I had a crash course through the first few sessions. I felt worse than I already did when I went to group and heard that everyone else's babes were feeding, sleeping and gaining weight perfectly! And of course they had the perfect births too! There I was trying to explain that Oli was premmie and had cystic fibrosis feeling like a freak. Mum's group went quickly down hill from there and personality clashes literally had me in TEARS and the group naturally split. Having a group of friends who live close by and are in the same position as you is the best support system a new mum can have. In saying that, a group of hormonal, sleep deprived, paranoid mothers has potential to be a recipe for disaster! Hold onto the good ones and forget the nasty ones or one!
5. You will constantly be covered in spew and poo!
This is such a hyped up idea of motherhood. I don't know about you but if I get poo on my clothes I change them pretty quickly! The odd time Oli has been sick on me I change both of us straight away. You read and hear about being a parent and the fact you are going to be dripping with bodily fluids but honestly...its not that bad! I've had a lot worse things splashed on me as a nurse than I have being a mum. There's something about your baby's poo that doesn't really phase you either until they start eating like an adult, then it may phase you...but covered in it ..no!
6. Your life will go on as before, only with a new cute accessory!
Oh what a fool I was! Heavily pregnant going to dinner in Northbridge a couple of times a week saying how we would bring the new baby along soon. I have to be given an A for effort, in the early days I did it and it was pretty easy! A newborn is fairly easy to take out at night....they pretty much eat and sleep and poo - cute poo's too! Not big stinkers. As Oli got older it became a bit harder, I had to breastfeed in public - something I struggled with! Then he began to know day from night and got cranky when he wasn't in bed asleep. Nowadays he just wants to walk everywhere and if he isn't in bed by 7.30 he cracks it! Oli is a very cute accessory, but he is my ENTIRE life now. I don't do a single thing exactly the same as I did before, my life is completely different. Every single thought I have in a day is revolved around Oli, yes even my deepest darkest thoughts about going to the toilet - have to leave the door open! Time for loving - don't make a sound it will wake the baby! A baby isn't an accessory, it's a life changing commitment...gulp!
7. Breastfeeding is easy and will come naturally
Another lie! Breastfeeding may come naturally to some but for me this wasn't the case. There were a lot of factors we had to overcome including; prematurity, pumping, tongue tie, low supply, nipple shield etc but we got there in the end! This wasn't without a lot of tears, perseverance and sometimes pain. The best thing I did was go to see a lactation consultant, it's a must have for anyone having issues. I'm a plan person, I love having a clear plan of what to do and seeing results. Breastfeeding is the most beautiful thing and creates a wonderful bond between mum and bub. But sometimes it's bloody hard work!
8. You will shower once a week
Again, what an over reaction! Showering once a week and constantly covered in spew and poo?! No, just....no! Even if I had to shower at midnight or with a screaming baby in the rocker in front of the shower it got done. There's something about that hot water that makes the day (or night!) so much more bearable. Do not deny yourself of being clean just because life is an overwhelming blur of feeding and surviving. It's a necessity to make you feel borderline human.
9. Bottle feeding means you can share the load with Daddy!
This may be true for some but not me. These are my thoughts when Ian did pretty much anything with Oli in the early days
"...you aren't holding his neck right"
"no don't hold him on that side, he likes the other side"
" he needs to be burped now, he's squirming can't you tell?!"
"oh god, what are you doing?!"
"you are going to drown him with milk!"
"ok Ell, let him do it...walk away....go lay down..."
" I heard a squeak, he must be crying or upset"
"better go check, he obviously needs me"
"hand him over you incapable fool!"
Hehe anyone else in the same boat? Sometimes its just easier to do it yourself! I had such a hard time letting go and letting Ian do things for Oli. I knew best of course! I was his mum and I did it all the time. No one can look after Ol like I can. I'm better now that he's older, but by golly, for awhile there I had to hold my tongue! I found it more stressful to have other people do things that doing them myself.
10. You will never sleep again
Theres no denying it, you are going to be exhausted. Especially in those newborn days after a week of pre-labour pains, actual labour, birth and constant feeding. But believe me, you will sleep again. It gets better, and it gets easier to deal with lack of sleep. Your body adjusts to less hours and the beauty of being a mummy is - if you don't feel like going out the next day then don't! If I have a horrible night with Oli I stay in my pjs all day and we relax at home. Sleep deprivation is the worst, it makes you feel physically sick and it even makes you cry in aisle 8 at Coles (me last week!) But there are a few things that helped me -
- Not counting the amount of sleep I had, this made me go crazy! Only three hours! I'm going to dieeeeeee!
- Asking for help! In the early days I would go to bed and Ian or one of my family would look after Ol until 12 or 1 so I could get a block of sleep then feed him and put him back down.
- Going to bed early, I know Oli wakes around midnight so some nights I go to bed just after I put him down at 7.30 because I know I can get a decent block of sleep.
- Change your thinking! Don't think, oh I'm up again for the fifth feed tonight. Think, I'm so lucky to have this tiny person who depends solely on ME to survive. I'm his whole world and in the beautiful silent dark of the night we get to share these moments, no one else gets that.
- Co-sleeping, when he was a newborn and I was at my wits end and this was the only way Oli would sleep. I was PARANOID that Ol would die if he lay next to me in bed, I searched desperately all over the internet to find something that said it was okay. I found nothing and went without sleep for weeks. Co-sleeping done SAFELY is okay, in fact its BENEFICIAL. Why wouldn't your baby want to be snuggled up close to mummy?
11. Your life is over.
No, its not over. It's just beginning. Being a mum is the most amazing, challenging, beautiful, funny, empowering, scary, loved up thing I've ever done. It's made me more tired, grateful and happy than I've felt in my life. Oli is my greatest achievement, I still pinch myself that I'm his mum and that I created him with my best friend! I won't lie in the hard days I yearned for the life I had before Oli. I loved my freedom and my job but now they seem trivial compared to spending my days with my baby. Forget about everything you hear, clear your mind of unwanted opinions and advice and follow your instincts. You know best!