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"They didn't tell me..."

Finding your feet as a new Mum

Image courtesy of Patrisyu and FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage courtesy of Patrisyu and FreeDigitalPhotos.netThere have been so many times in the last four weeks since my baby arrived that I have had the thought "they didn't tell me that"  run through my mind.
Your world is quite literally turned on its head when your baby arrives, you think you're organised, you're super excited to meet your child and you think you're 'ready'.
Ready defined as "prepared mentally or physically for some experience or action". This is what you think you are before your baby arrives before you even go into labour. In all honesty I don't think it was until labour set in that I realised I wasn't ready. What do I mean by that? The fear of the unknown set in... What was I supposed to do when the baby cried, how am I supposed to feed her, how will I know what she wants, how will I make sure she is the woman I want her to grow up to be? All these thoughts are enough to make you sick to your stomach with nerves! I had been to the antenatal classes, I had friends who were mums, I had the apps on my phone, I read the blogs and books- I knew I didn't know everything but I was feeling pretty sure I had this baby thing, I was ready... They had told me everything I needed to know right? So wrong!
So labour starts, they tell me that I will be monitored the whole time due to being induced... I won't be able to move around so my great birthing plan of moving around and not delivering laying on my back was out the window...They didn't tell me this would happen.
So I choose the epidural, it didn't work... They didn't tell me this was a possibility.
So I end up having a Caesarian, I was separated from my baby for hours after I gave birth to her, missing precious bonding moments... They didn't tell me it would be this long.
Image courtesy of Jomphong and Freedigitialphotos.netImage courtesy of Jomphong and Freedigitialphotos.netBabies need colostrum, they did tell me this, but not what we needed to do if the baby didn't latch - Hand express and feed my baby with a syringe. Where was the skin to skin they preached on about? They didn't tell me this.
Breastfeeding is hard... They did touch on this. They didn't tell me how much it would hurt, the beads of water from the shower or the light brushing of clothes against your nipples would be absolutely excruciating after your gorgeous baby had damaged your nipples because of how hard it would be to get a good latch...they didn't tell me this.
You're exhausted... Yes they did tell me this but not the part about being so exhausted from what you have been through equally as much as you are exhausted from getting up and feeding and settling your baby. It's hard work, the hardest job you will ever do... But the most rewarding.
You have no appetite in the days after labour.This is a problem because you need every bit of strength you have ever had to get through night two. Something else they didn't tell me...Babies realise around their second night after birth that they are no longer in womb, they need to breastfeed to eat and they feel way out of their comfort zone. This results in hours of crying, screaming, unsettledness and exhaustion for all involved!. They didn't tell me about night two and how much of a frightened and exhausted skeleton of yourself you will be the morning after it that this is quite possibly the reality of your nights going forward. Fortunately for us we haven't had too many repeats of night two!
Baby blues... Yes they touched on this. They didn't tell me though how hard they hit and how inadequate you feel as a woman and a mother and that you would literally cry a river constantly... You question everything you are doing and whether it's right or wrong and you feel like you can't do this and that your not a good mum and how can you cry when you have a such a beautiful baby in your arms... Hormones they have a lot to answer for! This is a normal process but not pleasant to go through, something they did tell me though is if it continues reach out for help and there is no shame in asking for help.
They didn't tell me how many times you would continue to question yourself and everything you are doing for the first little while. You don't know your baby or what they want so you are finding yourself breaking down over little things because you just aren't sure. Are they getting enough to eat? Are they feeding enough times? Are they comfortable? Are they breathing? Are they warm enough or too cold? Is it normal that we have changed the nappy ten times today? Trust me it goes on. But what they did tell me is to ask myself three things and if the answer is 'yes' to all, then you are doing it right:
  • Is my baby gaining weight?
  • Is my baby pooing?
  • Is my baby weeing?
 They didn't tell me that you are not likely to get much done... I mean the basics even! There are days that you won't eat breakfast or lunch or maybe you do but it's not till 4.00pm in the afternoon or have a shower or make it out of your PJ's. Forget about makeup, straightening your hair or even remembering to moisturise your face! And the housework don't even think about it, you will not have time!
Image courtesy of Marin & freedigitalphotos.netImage courtesy of Marin & freedigitalphotos.netThey didn't tell me that something as simple as going to the shops is now a marathon. The nappy bag, the pram, the car seat, the bottles, the bottle warmer to heat the bottles and oops how could I forget the baby, a quick run  to the grocery store just doesn't exist anymore.
They didn't tell me how many women you will meet you will help through your journey, from amazing midwives to other first timers in the nursery struggling with the same struggles you are. Together you make bonds with these women and you realise that you are going through the same things and you walk away feeling like you can do this!
They didn't tell me that you will have no idea what your doing most of the time but your baby doesn't know that, as long as you care for and love your baby their needs are met, they are not going to judge you.
They didn't tell me how much I would love my baby and I would become a fierce lioness and protect her from anything and everything because of how much I love her. This is something I'm thankful for that they didn't tell me because you need to experience this for yourself, something you have never felt before, it's a pure love, unconditional on all fronts and you expect nothing in return, they didn't tell me how much I'd love being a mum.
At the end of the day they can't tell you everything (perhaps they tried to tell me but I was naïve) because we are all different and each of us will have a different experience and I think that is what is it to be a mum; finding your own feet with your own baby, yes it's not easy and by no means am I any kind of expert but each day I know my baby a little better and I'm working out what she needs and wants and no one can tell me this because it's only her that knows...

About the Author

Monique Gaudry

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