The early baby days

May 29, 2014

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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.

12 Comments

  • Mama Herself

    May 29, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I think part of the problem is that it is terribly hard to say to a pregnant woman, who has so much to be potentially fearful about already, that actually… I always felt like I would be raining on their parade, deliberately trying to harsh their mellow sort of thing. But I was infinitely grateful for knowing that my BFF had had a rough ride of it when I did too.

    So anyway, this. Great post!

  • Polly

    May 29, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Those early days are hard. .. I remember with our first sitting there slightly shell shocked thinking ‘what now?!’

  • Jenna

    May 29, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Great post.

    My baby is now almost 8 weeks old and it’s still very tough but it’s got nothing on those couple of weeks. Breastfeeding broke me, I mean really broke me. I hated every midwife visit – I felt like I was constantly being judged by them. The sleep deprivation was hard and Jasmine also refused to sleep anywhere but on one of us. I lay wide-awake all night, worrying that I’d fall asleep and crush her. I refuse to make out to my friends (who haven’t had children) that it’s easy. I’m not trying to scare them but nor will I let them be blissfully unaware of what they’re getting themselves in for if they decide to have children! xx

  • Mouse

    May 29, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Hi!
    I’m 4 weeks away from giving birth to my first baby, so found this post very reassuring! I’ve worked with babies my whole working life, yet still feel like I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I’m bored to death of all the unwanted advice people are insisting on giving me, yet nobody wants to talk about the gory details like tearing, stitches, or what breastfeeding actually feels like. It’s good to know that other people go into this feeling like they have absolutely no clue what to expect. Thank you for sharing this! x

  • laura redburn

    May 29, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    i definitely think that the ‘bad’ side of things isn’t talked about enough. so many parents feel like they’ve done wrong because they don’t feel like some perfect all knowing glowing angel (or something, ha) and it’s so important to get a balanced view.

    things don’t go as planned, and i feel like many parents would feel much more supported if there were more people talking about the less positive aspects of birth and being a new mother.

  • Charlotte

    May 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Hi. This is a very timely post as my second baby is two weeks old so I’m right in the thick of post-baby hormones and sleeplessness. I’d forgotten how hard it can be but the great thing about the second time is that this time I actually believe that although this stage seems to last for ages that in a few months time (hopefully!) things will be a lot easier. (I didn’t believe people who told me that with my first 🙂 ) Plus I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to get things ‘right’ – and give myself much more time to eat cake and relax!

  • Laura

    May 31, 2014 at 1:57 am

    Those first few days are blissful and confusing as you said and I agree do as little as possible and always accept help when it’s offered 🙂

    Laura x

  • Gemma

    June 1, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I’m just under 10 weeks away from my first and your post has terrified me!

    No, in all honesty, it’s great that people will be so upfront about these things. As it’s the first grandchild on both sides, most people are just cooing over baby clothes and other cute baby stuff and forgetting to talk about the hard bits with me. Luckily I’ve got a great support network.

    Thank god for the internet right?! Thanks for being so honest.

    1. gillian

      June 14, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Oh god, sorry! It wasn’t my intention to scare anyone at all. It wasn’t all bad, it was just completely different from how everyone said it was. It is different for everyone though (and there’s lots of lovely, lovely bits) x

  • Miley Adam

    June 17, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Nice tips and i am happy to read you blog post that you have shared your experience which will be very helpful to new upcoming moms like me 🙂

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