When Harrison was born, everyone took pride in putting in their there two cents. It’s a right of passage for a new mum, everyone imparts wisdom from their own cushy newborn days, and I’m under no false allusions that I’ll probably do the same. I was warned of the meconium poos, the lack of sleep, the endless torrent of visitors and told my mothers instinct would be come naturally. In a way, yes, this was all true, but there was a lot I didn’t know about the first fortnight with a newborn, and a lot that probably would have been good to know.
1. Mothers instinct isn’t always obvious.
Your mothers instinct will come naturally/You know best/It’ll just come to you.
I walked out of that hospital absolutely clueless. All but kicked out 6 hours after I had him, with not so much as a quick lesson in how to change a nappy. I’m not around babies often, last time I held a newborn would have been my brother 11 years ago, and even then that was fleeting given that I didn’t really want anything to do with him. I was never a maternal person, so this idea that just having a baby meant I’d suddenly have a wealth of knowledge at my disposal was crazy, and it didn’t really happen that way. The first night was spent with me and Jordan googling everything. Is it normal if my baby wants fed again? Is it normal if my baby isn’t feeding every three hours? My baby’s poo is black, should it be black? How do I burp a baby? Why do I burp a baby? The simplest things that a mum should know, I didn’t, and it’s easy to think that your not prepared enough if you don’t know. The reality is that you’ll learn everyday and slowly but surely I’m getting to grips with being a mum. Yes, you’ll know your own child the best, but that doesn’t mean you’ll know everything in the first two weeks. It’s ok to not have a clue, and I wish I’d known that in the first two weeks.
2. There will be a torrent of visitors – but you don’t have to see them.
This was the biggie for me. Everyone said that the visitors would be endless, and that they were. But no one really told me how much of an effect it would actually have. I suppose it’s because everyone handles it differently – I didn’t really handle it well. For the first few days, we’d have people in the house from ten in the morning, and there would normally still be someone there at nine at night. To everyone it’s just an hour visit, but for you it’s eight hours on the go non-stop, and sometimes it does just get too much. I don’t like saying no to people, and didn’t do it at all for the first two weeks. It wasn’t until Jordan was back at work and I found myself hiding in a cupboard with Harrison from people ringing the doorbell that I realised I’d probably hit rock bottom with the visitors. Asking people to wait a few days until I was back on my feet a bit more was the best thing we could have done there, and I felt so much more in control just for doing that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy that Harrison had so many people that love him already and wanted to see him, but when your already run down, everything gets on top of you so quickly. If I’m honest, from the get go I should have said no visitors for the first week and taken the time with little chunk, but you don’t think of that at the time. For my own sanity though, it probably would have been best.
3. Every baby is different.
Don’t believe what you read on the internet.
Again, everyone wants to tell you exactly what worked for them and how it will work for your child too. Already, I’ve been told to switch my milk to certain brands that are full proof, to change my bottles or teets to better ones, how I should get Harrison to sleep better, how I should sleep better. It’s so easy to take what everyone says as bible, but let’s face it, every baby is different and what works for someone else won’t always work for you. Just because one hundred people are preaching something on a forum doesn’t mean that it’ll work for your one child, and likewise, just because it’s how your mum done it doesn’t mean it’s how it has to be done. I’ll learn my own ways that suit Harrison, rather than what suits everyone else, but that won’t happen in just two weeks.
4. It’s not always possible to sleep while the baby is sleeping.
I’ve lost count of how many people told me to do this before Harrison was born, and still how many people tell me to do it now. It’s not always that simple! Chances are, when Harrison sleeps, it’s during the day for one, and I’m not always that tired during the day, despite not getting much sleep at night. I’m either hyped up on coffee, or I do actually have things to get done, and can’t just nap alongside him. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a fair few naps in the past two weeks, but it’s never been while he’s in his crib, or on his bean bag, he’s always been on my chest, or in Jordans arms. I can never quite settle if he’s just in his crib, and to be fair, neither can he. He’s a sook who doesn’t like being put down for love nor money, and that means grabbing some shut eye while he does is a lot more difficult than everyone makes out. Sure, newborns sleep all the time, but that doesn’t mean you can.
5. Sick/Poo/Slebber doesn’t matter anymore.
‘Wait till you smell the nappies, or they start projectile pissing, or they’ve spewed all down your back…’ I was dreading it, absolutely dreading it, everyone made it out to be hellish, but after the first day, I wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. No one told me how much you don’t care about being used to catch sick, poo and pee, multiple times a day. Before Harrison, you wouldn’t catch me near a nappy for money, and sick turned my stomach. Jordan was even worse for it, his gag reflex kicked in if he brushed his teeth never mind if he smelled sick or had to deal with a poo explosion. For some reason though, when it’s your own child, it doesn’t even matter anymore. Within the first two weeks your lucky if your ever wearing clothes that aren’t covered in at least one of the three, and if you are, it won’t be for long. I don’t even think twice about it anymore, I’ve accepted my jeans will be covered in sick or poo for the foreseeable future, a small price to pay for Harrison.
6. You’ll do everything you said you wouldn’t.
We said we wouldn’t give Harrison a dummy.
I said I’d make sure I never fall asleep with him in my arms in bed.
I didn’t want him dressed in anything other than white or baby blue.
Jordan refused to let him wear double pom pom hats.
Night one, he had the dummy. By night four, after the 5am he was on my chest and both of us out for the count. He was in dark colours by week two, and I don’t think he’s gone a day without a pom pom hat.
With the exception of falling asleep with him in our bed, I can safely say I’ll be doing all of those things from now on. There’s no use making proclamations before a baby is here, when they arrive, everything changes, as does every plan you probably had. I didn’t want to use a dummy, I didn’t think we’d need one, but when your tired, you’ll try anything. I didn’t care nearly as much about what I was dressing him in when he arrived as I didd when I was planning his little outfits out – he’s cute, it doesn’t matter what colour he wears, he’ll still be cute. I’d much rather go for practicality right now than anything else. Jordan was too tired to fight me on the pom pom hats, and I think he’s secretly hoping I get it out of my system now when he’s a baby so I don’t subject his child to double pom pom hats at 5 years old (no promises..). I wish I’d known now that all of our plans would go astray when he was born – I’d have spent a hell of a lot less time fussing over them.
7. It’s completely normal to feel sad.
I knew the baby blues were a thing – I knew that I would probably get teary for no reason and I might not be all that happy in the first few weeks. The name threw me but, I thought I’d get sad about being a mum, about having a baby, I thought it was literally blues about having a baby. I didn’t realise just how random it could actually be – mines was the visitors, every text asking to come up made me teary, and it wasn’t something I could just snap out of. I don’t like being upset, so the fact that I was sad about something so small and that was ultimately under my control just made me even worse. I wish I’d known it was completely normal to be like this though, the baby blues doesn’t have to be about being a mum, or even to do with your baby at all. Hormones can have their effect in so many different ways, and again, everyone will be affected differently. It was perfectly normal to hide in a cupboard, or cry because someone asked to drop off a gift… my body was out of whack, I just had to realise that.
Hindsight is an amazing thing, even if I was told all of this before I had Harrison, I’d have probably been in the exact same position I was anyway – I wouldn’t have listened. Most of what is said before child birth is in one ear and out the other; at least, for me it was. Looking back though, I still wouldn’t have changed anything about my first two weeks, even my visitors. I needed my mini breakdowns, I needed to be open and honest with myself and Jordan and we both needed our initial night-time google sessions. We’ve got to learn somehow, right?