They say hindsight is a wonderful thing. Being able to make decisions with the luxury of knowing how they will turn out, and not having to worry about the consequences. Being pregnant a second time, has sort of felt like this. Whilst I know that each pregnancy is different, for each and every woman, I have felt a certain amount of calmness and predictability this time, as the ‘unknown’ was taken over by my previous experiences. I’m lucky, I know, that my pregnancies have been pretty straight forward and smooth. I know that many women find themselves in a different predicament. That said, however, each woman only knows their own journey and for myself, there were certainly ups and downs.
Given the fact that I’m moving into my third trimester in a couple of weeks, I’ve started thinking about all of the things that happened last time. I was reading this great article on Mamamia last week that described how a baby changes your marriage. For most…getting through the challenge of pregnancy is dwarfed by the challenges we face when the little baby presents itself, and the hard work really begins. I wish I could go back and give my former pregnant self some advice. If, for nothing else, just to tell her that everything WILL be ok. If I could, my ten pearls of wisdom would include…
1. It WILL get easier.
In those first few months you feel like a complete zombie. Sleep deprived, covered in milk, sore and emotionally drained. If you were anything like me, then you went from being a confident individual, respected in the workplace…to a person who had no idea if it was night or day. It wasn’t all bad of course, but there were certainly times that it felt like the hardest time of my life. I remember vividly sitting on the couch at 6pm with Ella crying, Dan not home from work yet and wondering if I would ever get to a place where I could make dinner, have a shower, feed myself and have everything done that Ella needed. Two years on I know that yes…it does get easier, and it becomes the most enjoyable thing you will ever do.
2. She WILL sleep through, eventually.
For us, it took a little longer, but after two years Ella finally sleeps through. In the beginning you are thrust into the world of sleep routine and advice. Bath, story, bottle, bed. Eat, play, sleep. It’s all a bit full on, but in the end…you will have to trust me on this one…she will sleep through.
3. Don’t stress about ‘bad habits’.
No Mum want to create bad habits and do things that will backfire. That said, there are so many mixed messages that you have no idea who to believe. They say ‘trust your instincts’, and I believe this is true. The only problem is, with no experience, you often have no instincts to trust. My advice to my former self would be to do what feels right at the time. If rocking feels right then do it. It feeding feels right then do it. Try to be informed about developing good habits, but take it one step at a time. Somehow, the knots unravel and things just have their way of working out.
4. You WILL feel (somewhat) normal again.
For me, this was the biggest hurdle of all. Going from being an independent 32 year old woman, with a job I love, places to be, people to meet, to being at home with a little one. The only way to describe it was feeling as though I had lost my identity. It’s like moving to a new place. It’s exciting, but you feel completely scared and unsure of which way to turn. Things seem the same, but also feel completely different. My advice to my former self would be to take things one day at a time. Lean on your friends. They will become your rock. Try to get out each day, even for a ten minute walk. It really does help. Eventually, you will go out on a date night, or a dinner with friends and start to feel normal again. It’s a very different normal, but it will become one that you will love and cherish.Nappies and all. There is no need to give up your former self, you just need to find a way to keep the things that you love.
5. Do ‘those’ Kegel exercises.
Need an explanation? Read last weeks’ blog post here. Enough said.
6. Every day may not be a good day, but there is something good in every day.
The day your child will smile for the first time will show you that this is true. You may be covered in vomit, and then you will see something on TV that will make you laugh. It’s the little things that will bring you the most joy. Even if it is a simple cup of tea.
7. You will fall in love with your husband all over again…
This is one of the best things you will experience. Seeing your husband hold your little baby in his hands is one of the most joyous things in life. Full stop.
8. The most expensive products are not necessarily the best.
Nothing explains this better than the good old IKEA high chair. Available for RRP $24.95 it’s cheap, light weight and most of all…easy to clean. Don’t get sucked into purchasing products that seem great because they seem to have every gadget under the sun. Don’t go and buy that expensive high chair that is adjustable at different heights, rotates, is on wheels, and has comfy cushioning. It will get covered in food, vomit and other things that I won’t mention. Check out internet forums before buying and just stick to the rule that often simpler is best.
9. Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine and Daniel Tiger will become your new best friends.
All I need to say is watch ABC4Kids. You will sort out the rest.
10. Be kind to yourself.
This is easier said than done, but trust me. Just be kind to yourself. If this means splurging on something to make you feel nice, having a massage, going to the gym or just simply telling yourself that you are doing a good job. It sounds too simple to be true, but being kind to yourself is really important. Don’t try to do everything perfectly. As long as your baby is fed, washed and sleeping you are doing a great job.
If someone offers to cook dinner for you…accept it. If someone offers to come over and bring you lunch….accept it. I will be forever grateful to those friends and family who brought over frozen dinners. They are simply a life saver.
Ask for help when you need it. We all want to be a good Mum, but you don’t need to be a perfect one. There is no such thing. If you are struggling, my advice would be to ask for help. Whether it be for cooking, cleaning or just some advice. Don’t ever be afraid to speak about your feelings and ask for help. My maternal health nurse was wonderful and helped me work through my feelings about being a little lost. There are so many people and networks out there. Reach out to people, even if it is on Facebook. Being connected is what gets you through.
Needless to say that I’m sure that my experiences after having my next child will be different, so any pearls of wisdom from Mums juggling multiple kids would be greatly accepted. I know I will probably be telling myself to go back and read this article in a few months…but I’m determined to go with the flow and just be a little kinder to myself second time around.
Here’s hoping I can listen to my own advice!
What advice do you wish you had listened to when you first had your baby?