First Time Parent

In the last few weeks there have been babies babies everywhere in my world. It’s so lovely to see and hear of all the scrumptious new bubbas arriving, and to fall in love with some new little people who will be such a big part of our lives. 

But talking to the new Mums and Dads, whilst congratulating them on their new arrival and telling them how amazing they are doing, I get a real fat dose of empathy for how hard those early days of being a new Mum was. It’s a huge reminder of how tough those times were, and it brings about some memories of a place that wasn’t always easy.

There are of course so many cliche phrases that spring to mind. ‘Nothing prepares you for it’ being the most cringe, but in all honesty, nothing prepares you for it, does it?

We had awaited our first baby for a long time. We wanted it so badly. We were prepared, we were excited, we were ready.

But after a dramatic arrival lasting days of induction and a tricky delivery, what I really could have done with was a good few nights sleep and some TLC. Instead, severely anaemic and exhausted, we left hospital with a 36 hour old baby and it hit us like a tonne of bricks.

Sleep deprivation for one isn’t something we had ever experienced. I was incredibly tired and confused about on demand breast feeding and intervals between feeds (more specifically too aware of them). The result was a screaming baby who probably just needed more feeding, and two exhausted parents who couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t sleep having been fed just two hours ago.

I desperately wanted to combination feed, but could find no advice available from health visitors or the internet. I still believe it would have suited me better than exclusive breastfeeding, but I soldiered on, being commended by medical staff and family but stressed and tired, and putting everything down to ‘it hard being a new mum’.

I found the process of becoming a Mum almost a physical transition – like it was a different person who came home from the hospital with our baby. Shell shocked, worried, intensely focused on that baby and what it needed. Everything else just seemed to have fallen away from around me, and I barely considered that life was going on outside of our small unit. It took me a long time to reconnect with normal life, and it literally felt like I was emerging from a haze.

We desperately wanted to share our baby with all our friends and family who were as excited to meet her as we were. It was with a whole heart we welcomed visitor upon visitor during her first days, and unexpected guests in the gaps we had ring fenced to rest. I think we got through a record number of tea bags during the babies first two weeks, and as Dad Muddling Through returned to work after three weeks off, we were all craving a little normality and routine, if a little daunted as to how it would pan out.

Ironically, the calmer life that we craved after the initial excitement was also not without challenges. I often felt lonely at home alone and would walk to the shop, to the bakery, or to the health visitor with a list of questions that had been playing on my mind all week. It was sitting there in that waiting room I made my first connections with other new mums, who would end up being such a huge part of my motherhood experience – and remain so to this day, six years later.

I was nervous about feeding in public, or in front of male guests, but felt under pressure to have it all under control, and to not disappear upstairs to feed when people had made an effort to come to see us.

When the baby cried, especially if she was hungry, it made me feel so stressed and anxious. As people asked what was wrong with her I’d feel prickly and tearful, as though I should know why, when I didn’t.  Looking back, I’d tell the new Mum desperate to do the right thing for her baby to not put so much pressure on herself. That stress around feeding and ‘knowing it all’ took away a lot of what could have been a much happier time for me.

Normally a confident person, becoming a Mum knocked me sideways in terms of self belief. I was constantly looking for answers from all the places I could seek advice; books, family, friends, health visitors. I guess it’s an overwhelming and a little debilitating having someone so dependent on you for its survival, and something that you have never cared so much for.

I worried about feeding (a LOT). When and how to feed, to wind, to introduce a bottle. Sterilising, dummies, temperature, sleep patterns, routine, weaning, returning to work, childcare…the list was endless. Thank god for the internet. In fact, the amount I relied on hitting google and reading others experience was the very reason I started this blog.

Six years on and I’m a different person. Not that anxious new Mum. Not even the other pre-baby person who wanted it all so badly, who believed she could be the same person just with a baby in tow. I’m a new person altogether, one who has, through the last decade of life experiences, found her happy place. She knows her priorities and has confidence to make decisions about her family, and what she wants from life.

I realise this post puts a negative stance on my early days as a new Mother. It wasn’t all bad, I can assure you that. The smiles and the reward of feeding a growing baby, that ever increasing bond and the joy I found in being a Mum was never in question. I guess I either hadn’t really heard anyone talking about how hard it all was before, or perhaps I just hadn’t tuned in, so it all came as a bit of a shock.

My point is that if you are a new Mum reading this, I understand. It can floor you in a way you would never have predicted. You may think that life will never be the same again as you crawl through each day in a fog of tiredness and emotions, forsaking all those things you used to enjoy before this baby came along as they take every ounce of your time and energy. But it won’t always be this way. One day you’ll look back and celebrate what you went through to grow that baby into a cheeky, happy little person. One that brings so much sunshine into your life (which for the record has multiple dimensions other than just Mummy) as they tell you about their day, the things they love, and what makes them happy. You will be one of those things by the way, and you don’t realise it always, but you already are.

Keep going, you are doing an amazing job.

x MMT

 

 

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18 thoughts on “First Time Parent

  1. dadbloguk Reply

    I may be a dad, not a mum, but this brings back memories! With two school kids, that’s what they are, memories.A lot of what you say applies to dads though. I don’t actually believe in a parenting instinct. I think it’s almost all learned and this idea that mums should simply know how to feed puts sop much pressure on them in the early days. Make mistakes, learn from them, move on.

  2. MotherAlmostNeverKnowsBest Reply

    This weirdly makes me want to go back to that fug of a newborn! #coolmumclub

  3. Sophie Reply

    Fab post and so accurate. The shell shock. The haze. I still remember the feeling of being so tired I thought I would die! But, and there is a but… it changes and suddenly you have a child at school. #coolmumclub

  4. Rhyming with Wine Reply

    I can feel every word of this and it really takes me back. I think you’re so right in that going through childbirth really is a transition and you do come out the other side as a different person. Particularly if the birth was traumatic. Our bodies go through such a momentous experience but instead of recovery time to recuperate we are handed a tiny bundle of overwhelming responsibility that steals all of our sleep. You’ve captured this perfectly as always. Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub xx

  5. mini human resources Reply

    This is so true. I really struggled the first time around. My husband already had two older children so he knew what he was doing and I remember just feeling useless (and pretty ill to be honest) for the first couple of weeks. The baby cried constantly and at a particularly low point I remember questioning what the hell I had done! Three children down the line though I still standby the fact that the first couple of months are BY FAR the hardest part of being a mum. But my youngest is now nearly 11 months and I am loving being mummy (well most of it!) #CoolMumClub

  6. Life Love and Dirty Dishes Reply

    Shedding a tear here Sarah. This brought back so many memories. I think of it as the newborn bubble. You are oblivious to anything outside of your little bubble because what’s inside is all consuming. My first was a hungry baby. He would feed hourly. Sometimes that feed would take 45 minutes and in 15 minutes he would want more! People would ‘helpfully’ suggest I tried expressing. When I was supposed to do this I had no clue. My stand out memories are always sat on the sofa feeding the baby whilst the husband fed me! #coolmumclub

  7. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    Becoming a parent is probably the single most daunting thing that has happened to me in my life – I can relate to so much of this….the transition is so hard and the first couple of months really do floor you. Nothing can prepare you for first time motherhood can it? Wishing you a lovely Easter break my lovely #coolmumclub pal xoxo

  8. Sara @ Magical Mama Blog Reply

    All of that stress and anxiety is so real for every new mom! Feeding has become such a debate and that helps no one’s situation. The hospital staff was very forceful with how feeding should be going and if it’s not happening within 5 minutes, they would come shove formula in your face. I was reading books and on google and Pinterest more than ever in my first few months as a new mom and that’s why I started blogging too. I had to look through 15 people’s experiences to figure out how I should do something while making it as efficient as possible.
    #CoolMumClub

  9. Navigating Baby Reply

    A great post for first time parents. It is an amazing time, but only really when you look back on it. It is hard to enjoy when you are in it #coolmumclub

  10. viewfromthebeachchair Reply

    We adopted. Got our little girl at 4. Same feelings without all the physical labor. We waited and wanted and had all the same emotions. #coolmumclub

  11. mummyhereandthere Reply

    The first time was the most hardest and tested but I think it is the most I have learnt X #coolmumclub

  12. Soffy S Reply

    This does not express you in a negative light at all. You have portrayed the plight of a first time Mum absolutely perfectly. I remember the pressure I had put myself under and that didn’t do anyone favours even now 13 months on, I still do sometimes if not all the time #coolmumclub

    Soffy // themumaffairs.blogspot.com

  13. A Mum At Work Reply

    I had a really similar experience in not enjoying the newborn stage like I thought I would. It’s a tricky one with new parents as I don’t want to sound too negative but on the other hand, I wish I’d been a bit more prepared for the tougher times #coolmumclub

  14. Louise Reply

    Definitely agree that nothing prepares you for becoming a parent. The sleep deprivation was by far the hardest thing for me – I thought I understood what it was like to be sleep deprived having worked crazy hours as a midwife on call but at least once I turned my pager off, I knew I could sleep uninterrupted – and that was a luxury that I didn’t get as a new parent! The responsibility of looking after a little person is also quite scary. It’s good to share our experiences like this though because knowing that others also struggle with the same challenges does help hugely in helping you feel less alone x #coolmumclub

  15. Charlotte Stein Reply

    Its such a tough emotional journey having a newborn. I struggled to feed all four of mine and found quite a lot of pressure from the healthcare proffesionals into topping up, this really knocked my feeding confidence. There certainly needs to be more support in those early days and help for new parents to do things the way that suits them as a new family. #coolmumclub Happy Slightly Belated Easter x

  16. The Queen of Collage Reply

    Becoming a mum can be overwhelming both joyful and challenging but you get through it. #CoolMumClub

  17. crummymummy1 Reply

    This is a lovely post! I know what you mean about the shock of it all although I loved my new role & found it quite easy after a very stressful job, which actually surprised me at the time! Not having the stress of work after 10 years was a revelation! #coolmumclub

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