When Parenting Doesn't Come Naturally
This time one year ago, bathtime was a minefield. We were new parents completely out of their depth, and this was not limited to bathtime, everything was new, and nothing was easy. I’ll never forget the moment the midwife told Jordan to go home for the night a few hours after Harrison was born. He made his arrival around 3am, and after an hour or two grace period, the midwife sent Jordan on his way to allow me and baby to get some sleep. I can tell you now, I did not get a single wink of sleep in that time. I was left in a room, with only a little baby for company, and not a single clue as to what to do with him. I spent the next few hours wide awake staring at his crib, praying my tiny human would stay asleep and I would not have to admit to anyone that I in fact did not have a clue how to be a mum. Any inkling of love and warmth for that little person in those first few hours alone was overshadowed by the sheer panic that I had full responsibility for him, any small noise, any slight movement, terrified me.
Jordan returned in the morning to take us home (to my great relief) and together we fumbled through dressing Harrison for the first time. I can laugh at the moment now looking back, both of us scrambling to have him fully clothed before the midwife returned to the room, not wanting to look incompetent, but both completely fingers and thumbs, too scared to pull at the tiny limbs and both hoping the other would have a secret ability to maneuver the poppers of a baby grow. FYI, neither of us did have that secret ability, but we managed, and we've continued to manage ever since.
Parenting comes naturally to some, and to others it comes like a glorified punch in the face. Without a shadow of a doubt I fell into the second category. There was absolutely nothing natural about the way I took to motherhood: every movement awkward and every decision second guessed. The books all told me that I would just know, that when my baby was born it would come naturally, and I patiently waited for this sound of mind to hit me. It didn't (and probably still hasn't), but everything else hit me first.
The bath was the worst. I had visions of how a baby bath would go. We'd be sitting in front of a fire (ironically we don't have a fire) with some relaxing music on and a content little one who was soothed by the water, just like how I used to bath my Baby Annabel when I was a child. I was a great parent to Baby Annabel, confident and completely in control, so loving and tender. Fast forward twenty years later, my parenting ability seemed to have regressed and I was stood in the bathroom with a screaming baby who hated water wondering exactly where I was going wrong. I had done everything I could to prepare for motherhood in the short time I was given: I watched videos, I bought every product under the sun, I joined all of the Facebook groups. For bath time, I had the supports, the toys, I even bought a special towel that would make it all stress free. That was the exact phrase all of the reviews used - a 'stress free' bath time, and I didn't need to read anymore. Even with the supports, the toys, and the towels, my child still hated the bath. He screamed blue murder and not even that special towel could make me feel like it wasn't because I was doing something wrong. I stood over that first bath with this special bloody towel as my baby screamed in Jordans arms and realised that no amount of products, YouTube videos or Baby Annabel as a four year old could have prepared me for motherhood. The only thing that would have prepared me was the one thing I didn't have: experience. It might have been days, more likely weeks, but eventually Harrison stopped screaming at bath time, and eventually I stopped stressing. It wasn't because of our special towel, but it did had everything to do with experience. We learn as we go, and we had to learn quickly.
They always say you'll never be fully ready for a child, and it goes without saying we certainly were not. But we've managed, we've learned and we've become remarkably passable parents in this first year. When Cuddledry asked this month if we wanted to try out one of the towels from the new range, I couldn't help but say yes. My 'special towel' was a Cuddledry Handsfree Apron Towel, and the brand itself will forever remind me of our newborn days with Harrison. Our special towel may not have been the answer to our bathtime woes, but it became a staple when we settled in to a routine that worked.
Nostalgia aside, the Cuddledry products are great. The apron towels have the ability to fasten around your own neck, leaving your hands free for lifting your baby. This may seem unnecessary to anyone who has yet to try lifting a wriggling baby out of a bath, while holding a towel, without soaking both yourself and the entire bathroom - put bluntly, it's not possible. The towel itself is made from unbleached cotton and natural bamboo fibre, which in simple terms means it's the bees knees for baby skin. The newborn towels are also still big enough for Harrison', who seems to have outgrown many of the other towels we have used since he was tiny. We are only now starting to use a second towel, and the difference in quality after a year of washes is not all that different, which says a lot for the durability. It's thick, it feels luxurious and it still remains for the first towel I'll reach for at bath time.
Maybe it’s because it’s a Sunday and I’m in a reflective mood, maybe it's just because I’ve had a few too many honeycomb lattes today. I look back at our last year and can’t help but not even recognise the two parents that were fumbling about with the baby grow in the hospital room. Motherhood hit me hard, and I'll be the first to say I was no natural. I expected Harrison to be placed in my arms and for my brain to rewire itself and know exactly what to do, and it didn't. I learned from trial, error, and a lot of screaming in the bath. The newborn days are a period like no other, and despite the culture shock I'd give an arm and a leg to go back and do it all over again (without the no sleep, preferably).
We were gifted the lovely Cuddledry Handsfree Apron Towel included in this post, as always opinions are completely my own (I don't think I could make up that I based my parenting expectations on a Baby Annabel). You can buy your own direct from their website here, and I can't recommend them enough. Disclaimer, they don't make the first bath 'stress free', but they certainly make the cuddles after a lot snugglier.