"So are you breastfeeding?".
My baby was less than a day and a half old and I'd already been asked this question by THREE different people. He hadn't even been bathed since being delivered, like he was FRESH. Super fresh. And here I was, in my hospital room, sitting on the bed because there was no way I could stand at this point, still on a somewhat high after giving birth, and these people wanted to know if I was breastfeeding. It's bad enough first-time mothers are made to feel guilty if they can't breastfeed, but he was literally a DAY AND A HALF old.
My hubby and I went on a bit of a journey to fall pregnant. We went through some pretty hard and sad times in the years it took us to conceive, so when I saw those two faint pink lines on the pregnancy test, it really was the most incredible feeling in the entire world. Hubby and I spent the next nine months planning and preparing - we had all bases covered. We stocked up on pretty much EVERYTHING - we read books, we listened to everyone and anyone's parenting advice, we thought we were really ready.
When our baby was born, I can't begin to tell you what that moment was like when I first held him in my arms. I can't begin to tell you how Hubby broke down in tears as he held us both so close and didn't let go. I can't begin to tell you the look on my Mum, Dad and Sister's face when they walked into the delivery suite and all burst into tears. We knew then and there, that life as we knew it, would be completely different.
Fast forward 12 weeks, and our nearly three-month old is an active, adorable, cheeky little thing and we're completely obsessed. But three months in, Hubby and I have come to learn quite a few things. Things that our family and friends who have kids, neglected to tell us. Perhaps it's because their kids are older and they seemingly 'forgot' what newborns are like? Or they didn't want to worry us? Any who, I'm more of a straight shooter and don't like to fluff around - so here's all the stuff we've since learnt, that we WISH we knew before becoming parents.
1. The first six weeks are the best and worst of your life.
Your hormones are literally running amok in your body, so you will have extreme highs, and then extreme lows. On around day four or five, you'll probably have a breakdown because you're completely sleep deprived, you don't know why your baby won't stop crying, you're super emotional because of said hormones, and you really just need a hug. Breastfeeding was incredibly difficult for me - it took me EIGHT WEEKS to really figure it all out which is a long time if you think about it - so it doesn't help when people continue to ask if you're breastfeeding or not - which brings me to point number 2.
2. For some bizarre reason, people want to know if you're breastfeeding.
By people, I mean women. Men don't give a stuff. Seriously. They couldn't care. Women on the other hand want to know if you're breastfeeding. I found myself making excuses as to why I was having problems, and topping up my extremely hungry son with formula. I then felt as though I was being judged, so I continued to make excuses. In reality, I should never have had to justify anything - and these people really should never have asked. Why? It was none of their damn business. But then again, as a first-time parent, I came to learn that EVERYONE has their own opinion. A lot of these opinions contradict the others. And looking back, I wish I just ignored EVERYONE and followed my instincts, because ultimately, a mother's instinct is best.
3. It's ok to experience a bit of depression or 'baby blues' after you give birth.
I couldn't explain why I was feeling sad. Hubby and I had just had our miracle baby, and here I was, crying daily for the first couple of weeks. It's called baby blues and it's totally normal. At the time it doesn't feel normal, and you feel pretty sad, but it does get better. For me, it was a combination of postpartum pain, breastfeeding issues, sleep deprivation - and a lack of confidence in myself that I was going to be a good mum. But one day I literally got up, put make-up on, brushed my hair, and took the baby out. And I haven't looked back since.
4. Advice. People will offer it up - and you'll get caught up and stressed that it's not working for you.
Honestly, people should really just leave first-time parents alone, and let them figure their stuff out. The last thing we need, is to be told how to hold the baby a certain way to stop him from crying. Or to follow a certain sleep routine, so that he can sleep through the night. News flash: EVERY BABY IS DIFFERENT. And you need to do what's best for your Bub. Comparing your Bub to others isn't ideal. So sure, be nice to people who offer up advice, but go with your gut.
5. You are suddenly doing 3-4 more loads of washing every week.
Babies are messy. Yes they're cute, but unlike all the glamorous mums you see on instagram with seemingly 'perfect' babies, in reality, they dribble, vomit and poo. Repeat. You will go through A LOT of Napisan. So be prepared.
6. We knew that we'd have a bit of sleep deprivation. We didn't know there would literally be nights where we wouldn't even get a WINK.
We've had a couple of nights where Bub has literally woken on the hour every hour. It wasn't ideal, and needless to say, Hubby and I were quite grumpy with one another. So sleep while you can - because as soon as baby comes along, you can see goodbye to that eight-hour sleep.
7. Your 'perfect' relationship with your partner is put to the test.
After hardly arguing, suddenly you're fighting over the best way to put on a nappy. Or how to recognise tired signs. Or how the other can't settle the baby properly. And then when you're not arguing about the baby you're arguing over other stuff. Little, irrelevant things that normally wouldn't warrant an argument, but now do. Why? Sleep deprivation. Stress. Anxiety. Be prepared to have some big arguments. But it's so important to then take a step back, reflect, make up and focus on the baby, and putting him/her first.
8. Pregnancy and post-baby brain. It's a real thing.
I was as sharp as a tac before I fell pregnant. And now, I will literally be holding my phone, while looking for it. The good news is, it goes away, in time. But until it does, i've resorted to writing lists and documenting everything down on a weekly planner. Has made a world of difference!
9. Be careful with all the fancy baby crap that baby shops sell - you will not need half of it.
Guys, I bought a nappy bin. Why? To place nappies. Do I use it? No. Why? Because I use a regular bin that doesn't require as much effort to clean it. So when doing the big 'baby shop', be realistic in stuff you will ACTUALLY use. For example, a white noise machine. Has literally saved my life. Bub falls asleep to it most of the time!
10. You will miss your life before baby. And you will feel guilty about feeling that way, but it's a fact.
Gone were the days I could just waltz out the door holding my phone, keys and wallet, calling out to Hubby that I was going to get my nails done. Gone were the days i could spontaneously meet up with a friend for coffee. Gone were the days I could literally just jump in the car and go to the gym. Life as I knew it, was over and this new life of having to plan five steps ahead for baby had begun where I'd have to arrange with either my hubby to come home, or my mother/mother-in-law to mind him while I jumped out to the shops to buy basic groceries for dinner.
As I mentioned above, I'm a straight shooter. I like to keep it real, and I wish someone explained all of the above to me. But in saying ALL of this, when I hold my baby and he looks into my eyes - I wouldn't change a thing in the world. To me, he is perfect. And our lives are perfect now that he's with us. He is literally our everything - and I wouldn't have it any other way. So I guess it makes all of the above redundant in a sense - because yes, I wish I'd known it all, but even If I had, I probably wouldn't have cared.