The early baby days
How did you feel in the first few days of new babydom? Blissfully content, wafting round full of love and all the good hormones, gazing in wonder at your baby? Or slightly confused, clueless, tired, tearful, tired?
There’s no right answer – of course – and it’s not a black and white thing, but I do think lots more people feel like the second rather than the first, however hard it is to admit.
I’ve read a lot of celeb mag interviews and posts and so on from new mums who talk about how amazing and wonderful the first few days are. And I think ‘really?’ Of course, for some people this is true, but it’s not for many. And I think it would be helpful to be a bit more, well, honest about it.
In the first few days at home I felt pretty overwhelmed and still shellshocked from labour. Despite, on paper, having a quick natural delivery and a speedy recovery, I kept thinking “did that ACTUALLY HAPPEN?” We struggled with breastfeeding, and 2-3 hourly feeds day and night didn’t result in much sleep for anyone. And speaking of which, Eliza wouldn’t sleep anywhere but on one of us at night, so we took it in turns to sit up with her (seems crazy now!) Everything was unfamiliar and incredibly confusing and complicated. Even getting dressed.
Ridiculous things – good and bad – reduced me to tears, for weeks, like some sort of hyper-hormonal new mum stereotype. Even small things made me feel ragey and I felt pretty bleak at times. And that was just a regular dose of the baby blues, mixed in with a helping of severe sleep deprivation.
It’s not all bad; on the contrary. You have your baby, the most amazing thing ever. We built ourselves a cosy sofa nest with the heating cranked so high that visitors found it ‘tropical’, and didn’t do anything for ages but eat and watch films and box sets. I saw my husband in a completely different light, and was full of love for him and awe and wonder at this wriggly little old man that we’d somehow made. And it gets much easier quickly.
It’s often described as a baby bubble, but it’s more of a daze really isn’t it? It’s a complicated and contrary time when you often feel a hundred different things at the same time as nothing at all.
Although I’m 20 weeks off giving birth, it doesn’t seem very far away and I am wondering what it will be like the second time round. This time, I know what’s coming when the baby comes. And we’ll hopefully know what to prepare for (as looking back it’s impossible to do this first time when you have absolutely no idea what’s going to hit you). Although we’ll also have a super-active toddler who won’t want to sit around watching Mad Men boxsets. Yikes.
Here’s some ideas for making the transition as easy as possible:
1) Do as little as possible. And do what you want (if you want visitors, great. If you don’t, don’t be afraid to say so)
2) Ask for help if you need it! Be it with breastfeeding, cleaning, cooking and so on. Also, get a cleaner
3) Have loads of food in so you can leave the house as little as possible. If you don’t spend your maternity leave batch-cooking lasagne (like me, who preferred napping and watching rubbishTV) then order lovely things from Cook, or just super-easy supermarket foodstuffs
4) Be kind to each other. I was always surprised when I’d read people saying they would shout at their husbands / partners for doing things wrong, as to be honest both of us had an equal amount of no clue at all
5) Take it in turns to nap. Everything is loads better if you just get some sleep
6) Eat loads of cake and comfort food. Don’t even think about a post-baby diet
7) I couldn’t get over the amount of people who said Kate Middleton wasn’t representing ‘real motherhood’ because she had her hair done and wore a dress for the post-baby media call (when the whole of the world was watching!) Who knows who or what a real mum is? Wear pyjamas for two weeks if you want. But also, if it makes you feel better to put on proper clothes and a full face of make-up, do it
8) Remember there’s always someone around on Twitter, even at 3am. And morning is never too far away.