A Letter To A First-Time Mother
Mother-of-four and blogger Elizabeth MacDonnell writes a letter of advice to first-time mums.
Dear First-Time Mother,
Firstly congratulations; your gorgeous bundle has arrived. You are most likely besotted, overwhelmed, love-struck and terrified all at once. It is probably the most dramatic life-changing event you have ever experienced and nothing will prepare you for this. The good news is that it is life changing in the best possible way, but as you find your feet in your new world it may not always seem this way. Being a first-time mum is often a source of ridicule to the ‘more experienced’ mums, the phrase is often linked with negative comments and derisory remarks, but remember, every mother starts out as a ‘first-time mum’ so pay no heed; we’ve all learned as we went along. It’s part of the journey, part of the fun. The purpose of this letter is not to advise, but to share some of what I have learned.
What I have learned:
- Be wary of advice from well-meaning strangers; you will get loads of it and most of it will be rubbish.
- The early days with a newborn can be lonely; it’s okay to feel like that. Join some groups and stay connected to friends as it really helps.
- It’s perfectly normal to question both your reason for having a baby, and the chosen father of the baby during the first few months … your life, and hormones have been turned upside down, yet everyone else’s life carries on as normal, so it’s okay to feel some outrage at this.
- You will gush and possibly bore people describing the minute detail of your little darling, and that’s just fine. It’s your first so it’s perfectly acceptable (after your first-born, it’s no longer tolerated!)
- It is not possible to spoil a child with love, so hold, snuggle and cuddle your baby as much and as often as your baby and you need it.
- Forget about any form of routine before three months, and from there on watch for your baby’s patterns; following them makes life so much more pleasant than trying to force a routine.
- In the first few months you can never bring enough nappies and changes of babygros with you on a trip. When you think you have enough, add more.
- If anyone suggests that you leave your baby to ‘cry it out’ or mentions ‘controlled crying’ ask them to go home and cry themselves to sleep and see how loved and secure and safe they feel after it!
- You will buy too much stuff, you will bring the kitchen sink for just a onenight sleepover, but that’s fine, it’s a rite of passage. You’ll do it, you’ll learn, you’ll look back and laugh about it.
- There is no magic solution that will help your baby ‘sleep through’; your baby will do it when they are ready. If you can accept that and go with it you will avoid the inevitable ‘head melt’ that is associated with trying to find the perfect ‘sleep solution’. Also it’s worth ‘faking it till you make it’. Nod and smile if people ask you if your baby is sleeping, otherwise you will be inundated with the aforementioned rubbish advice!
- Remember, no one has ever had YOUR child before. It is your baby that you grew from scratch, your body knew what to do when it was on the inside, and you will know what to do now it’s on the outside. Trust yourself; if it feels right it probably is right.
- Enjoy every smile, every kiss and every cuddle…. it is but a fleeting moment until they are walking, talking toddlers and the newborn, who seemed so tiny, is no more.
And finally… Please treat this letter like you should treat all other books/blogs/advise that you read about parenting…. that is; take from it what feels right to you and ignore the rest. There are no such things as ‘parenting experts’, no one will ever know your baby better than you.
An exhausted, sleep-deprived but deliriously happy mother-of-four