Honest Advice For New Parents From A Mom Of 3
You can read ALL the books, join ALL the parenting forums, watch One Born Every Minute on a continuous loop (that may have just been me) but nothing, NOTHING can prepare you for the reality of raising a child.
We all have our own stories to tell on this one and it can become competitive like that scene in Lethal Weapon 3 when they start comparing scars. I gave birth vaginally to three very large boys and I would advise you to start doing Kegels now... like millions of them. I’d also ask you to appreciate your pre-baby tightness (if you know what I mean.. insert winky face). This is a very subjective experience and many of my friends still have sensation and can hold their pee for more than five minutes.
Don’t rule out pain relief, I’m not sure why this is seen as something to aspire to. An epidural didn’t work on my first but did on the last two and I actually enjoyed birthing them, unlike the 1970s horror that was my first. I’ve met many the first time expectant mother who describes her plans for a hypnobirth with such innocence that all I can do is well up and squeeze her arm.
If you are reading this while nursing your baby after an interrupted night of sleep, you will hate me, but this is the easy bit. Babies tend to stick to the programme so you can check your copy of What to Expect the First Year and little Mary or Jimmy are doing what they should by week 10. There may be some curveballs… mastitis, illness, teething etc but apart from the lack of sleep… babies aren’t so bad; So (and I want to punch myself in the face here) enjoy it.
I know every Bridie, Nora and Betty (you’re all welcome for the baby name ideas) will give you this unwelcome advice as you try to navigate Aldi with swollen boobs and a screaming baby but please take the time to smell them. When I had Conall in 2008 my sister said "wait till you’re not saying his name softly but screaming CONALL!!!". I looked at my gorgeous new baby and telepathically told him that would never happen and that his Aunty Fiona could do with a parenting course.
Ha! I’m not sure how to even say his name in anything other than an exasperated shout. Also, please take the time to fill in their baby books… you will never remember when they first discovered their hands years later.
Anytime I feel broody, I only need to remember this time to fully appreciate my husband’s vasectomy. Ugggh the potty training, tantrums, food issues. *shudders* I think I’ve blanked a lot of it out. My advice is wine and loads of wipes.
So now they can talk back.. they have little personalities and for my kids, god help me, a lot of it is mine. I had notions of them playing the piano or being big into sports without factoring in that neither myself nor my husband does either. My kids love technology, movies and books just like me. They have short fuses and are quick to tears... like me. They are handsome, stubborn and dogmatic... like their Daddy.
You may think ‘little Jimmy would love a sibling’. For a moment picture little Jimmy and Timmy kicking seven shades of shit out of each other till you have to physically pull them apart as they scream words at each other that no child should know. Picture that every time you find a precious two minutes to sit on the couch and have a cup of tea that someone will shout MAMMMMMMMM. This will also happen when you are on the phone or on the toilet. Right now the thoughts of someone calling you Mam is adorable… try having it shouted at least a billion times a day.
The absolute scariest thing about having children is the extreme emotions that come with it. It’s like a few layers of skin are removed in the labour ward that you will never get back. You will cry at all movies. Especially Pixar ones! But it’s the guilt and the fear that will cripple you some days.
Guilt that you’re not spending enough time with them, feeding them properly, doing enough activities, shouting too much… the list is not exhaustive. You can feel guilt about the political climate and the environment and just what kind of a world have I brought these innocent little gorgies (my pet name… they hate it and so I use it a lot) into? This feeds into the fear... my untimely death or theirs preoccupies precious sleeping time at night.
These were not things I read about in the parenting books. I was prepared for toilet training and occasional Calpol administering… not The Guilt and The Fear.
Parenting is certainly a learning curve and you can never be fully prepared. I’m winging it like the rest of the parents I know and as long as you have good friends in a similar situation that you can bitch to; a sense of humour; buckets.. actually oceans of patience and love to give.. go with it. Always have wipes and spare underwear in your bag (for the kids.. THE KIDS) and you’ll be good to go. May the force be with you.