The day I had been waiting for (and dreading) had finally come. One week before my due date, I gave birth to my precious baby boy Gabriel Michael Moles on 16th February 2016 at 3:52am after a long 27 hours of labour! I have now officially been a mother for 2 months and boy have our lives changed
You get an inkling from other parents before you have a child of how your life will change, you always gets comments such as ‘Take advantage of the free time you have now’, or the all famous ‘ Sleep while you can’, but you don’t actually realise how serious those parents are with those comments until you have a newborn to look after so here are 5 lessons I have learnt during my 2 months of motherhood.
I have always been one of those people who likes to be as natural as possible. I avoid taking medication unless I really need it, try to eat clean, organic and fresh and use organic beauty products as much as possible as to avoid any chemical nasties. So when it came to child birth I wanted to follow this same path. Reading up on the possible side effects of an epidural on me and my baby I had decided against it pretty early on in pregnancy. I wanted to have a natural birth and minimise any possible interference that could negatively impact my baby and our ability to bond effectively after birth. So I propped myself up on my high horse and decided to have a water birth with no drugs. It will be painful but I could handle it, right?? Pffftttttt
LESSON ONE: I am freaking stupid! Why didn’t I take the damn drugs! If over 90% of women end up using an epidural during labour than there is definitely a reason for that. I have always thought that I had a good pain tolerance after surviving the pain of endometriosis since I was a teenager, and maybe I do but labour freaking hurts! Nothing can describe it. No it is not like period pains and no it is nothing like gas pains, it is a pain unlike all others. Don’t be fooled like I was. I thought ‘Oh it is like period pains, I have really bad period pains so I am sure I can handle it’. What a load of Sh**. Don’t listen to anyone who says it is easy and can even be orgasmic. Unless you are a sadomachosist, I don’t think anyone could really find childbirth ‘ Orgasmic’! After 26 hours of drug free labour I finally gave in at the last hour and got a shot of morphine. I should have given in earlier as straight after I received the injection my son was on his way out!
My advice: Have an open mind. Even though I may have gone down another route if I had known how long and painful it was going to be, I cannot help but feel a tiny bit proud that I managed to hold on for 26 hours. See how it goes but tell your midwife that you are open to everything. Depending on how long your labour is you may be able to handle a natural birth but for me after 27 hours I was too tired to be able to handle it as well as I might have. Take it as it comes but let the midwife know as soon as it gets too painful. I was too stubborn and really wanted to hold on and by the time my contractions were at their peak it was too late for an epidural.
Two weeks before my due date, I had packed my hospital bag in preparation for the big day. I had gone shopping and made sure I had comfortable yet stylish loungewear and agoing home outfit, had packed my make up and hair straightener and was feeling optimistic about starting my new life as a new mummy fresh. HA! That was a waste of time, not only did I not wear my ‘Stylish’ going home outfit, my stylish loungewear made me look like a puffed up marshmallow!
LESSON TWO: You will not look as great as you think you will. I had read numerous articles and knew not to expect to look like a supermodel and that I would still have a bit of a belly pooch but I did not expect to hate my body as much as I did. Having a big firm pregnancy belly seemed to have hidden all the extra body fat I actually had. While I had thought I looked pretty slim despite my massive bump, I had the shock of my life after I gave birth to find a had bumps in other places. Seriously I had more rolls than a freaking bakery ! Great! not only was I recovering physically and mentally from the labour I now resembled a beanbag!.
MY TOP TIP – Pack baggy tops such as a large sweatshirt and leggings to go home in, also take hair elastics for an easy ponytail and reassure yourself that a lot of the weight is water retention that will eventually go away.
The first night I spent with my son was exhausting. Not only was I recovering from the physical strain of giving birth, but I had already been awake for almost 48 hours straight. When my husband to be left the hospital for the night I thought ‘ YES, I can sleep’. My baby was a newborn and all newborns do is eat and sleep right? Hmmmmmmmm. After feeding my baby and putting him back in his crib to sleep, he responded by crying loudly. I didn’t understand, he was clean, has been fed and was fast asleep just a minute ago. After frantically trying to calm him after an hour I realized what he really wanted.
LESSON THREE: Though I was prepared to be woken up every 2-3 hours to feed my son during the night, I had believed I would be able to get at least some sleep in between feeds however I was wrong. One thing I was not prepared for was not being able to put my baby down once he fell asleep. Nope, he would not sleep anywhere else but on me, no matter how deep in sleep he was, he would scream the moment I would try and put him in his crib. Goodbye my hope of having a good nights sleep. Try sleeping while in a small hospital bed with your newborn balanced on your chest. The sheer terror that he might fall off is enough to keep you awake all night! Twos month on and he still loves to sleep on either me or my partner though with a few tricks we have taught him to sleep mostly in his crib. The reason behind it is that they are so used to being with you 24/7 all snug and warm while they were in the womb, and now being out in the big wide world, all the sensations and open space is overwhelming for them and being close to you comforts them.
TIP: Swaddling! I would swaddle him before feeding him so that my warmth and smell would be on his blankets and once he fell asleep I would put him in his crib, works like a charm. if you are like me and not very gifted in the art of swaddle buy a swaddle pod, now as soon as we put it on him he knows it is time to sleep.
Becoming a parent for the first time can be very daunting. I remember coming home from the hospital and thinking, what do we do now? It is scary to think that this little person is entirely your responsibility. You and your partner are responsible for how they are going to turn out as adults. Every time you see an annoying child, people blame the parents for not raising them right, so how do I make sure I raise a decent human being and not an twat? The thought is scary. There are a number of books and blogs on parenting, telling you what you should and should not do while caring for your child and to be honest, there are so many conflicting arguments that you could read everyone of those books and still not know what to do. For a lot of our friends and family who have small children, the cry it out method seemed to have worked wonders and seems to be the go to method when you want your child to sleep. ( For those you do not know, the cry it out method is when you let your child cry until they learn to self settle and fall asleep on their own with no fuss). From day 1, I was told by family, friends even the midwife to let him cry and that if i didn’t I was making a rod for my own back. So after an exhausting first night with him on my chest my partner took over and decided to try this method. As we tried to get him to settle my instincts told me that this was not right despite what everyone had been advising me. I cried as I watched my 3 day old baby cry because he desperately wanted to be close to me. I couldn’t do it, he was too young and didn’t understand what was happening. He needed to be nurtured as being in this world was so new and scary for him. I vowed at that moment to do what I felt was right for me and not what everyone told me to do.
LESSON FOUR: Trust your instincts. You will be inundated with advice from others wanted or not and as daunting as being a new parent is, do what feels right for you. I found that the days I was able to respond quickly to his needs were the days he tended to be more settled and happy to sit by himself for a while, whereas the days I would be a bit busy and didn’t take time with him were the days he became more fussy and clingy. Now that he is older I am more comfortable to let him cry a little bit especially since I can now differenciate between his serious cry and his ‘fake’ cry, but I only do it know because I feel it is now ok to do it even then I only let him cry for a minute or two.
After 2 months of tending to my baby 24 hours a day there is one thing that I still need to work on and that is to take time for myself.
LESSON FIVE: Look after yourself! The days go by so quickly and before you know it you realise you have not seen your girlfriends for over a month or that you and your partner have not had any alone time since becoming a family. You are wearing clothes that no longer fit you and you have not had your eyebrows waxed for months and they are starting to resemble caterpillars! Its true that newborns will take up most of your time and that your priorities in life change once you have a child but it is important to nurture yourself and the other parts of your life, if not to maintain your relationships but also for your sanity. As I am exclusively breastfeeding it has been difficult for me to leave my baby in fear that he would go hungry, but there have been times where as much as I love him, I have needed to get away! I don’t want to wake up one day and realise my friends have moved on and the only thing I am capable of talking about is my baby and day time TV!
Advice to myself: Go and get those freaking eyebrows waxed!
What other tips would you give to new parents?
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