Dear First Time Mum Me
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the differences I’ve found being a mum the second time around and what I wish I could tell myself if I could go back in time to those first overwhelming few weeks when you become a parent for the first time.
I have a few regrets from my first time around and I wish I had known some of what I know now, back then, but at the same time it taught me a lot about what to expect the second time around. If you are going to become a parent, are a new parent or think back to those days I hope this helps in some ways. Everyone has a different birth experience, breastfeeding journey, and parent/baby journey which is what makes us unique but if you have struggled with any of the below, know you are/were not alone. I’ve also asked some fellow bloggers what advice they would give themselves too!
I knew after having a baby my body wouldn’t ping straight back to how it was (although I hoped) but I wasn’t quite prepared for how big my belly would be for a few weeks after, the first few days after I really hated because not only was my belly massive but it was just like jelly, and it really freaked me out how much it wobbled, how sunken my belly button was and I feared I would look pregnant forever. I remember when Luna was 4 months old I saw someone from my school days and she went “ooooh are you expecting?!” I found that stung a little bit, but I was consuming a lot of cake at the time, and I realised I had grown two humans less than 2 years apart, that will take a toll on your body, but it also did something amazing. I still have a mum tum now, 9 months since giving birth BUT I’m pretty sure that’s more chocolate than anything, and you know what, I’m cool with that, I have shapely womanly curves, and if I want to be slimmer I will exercise more and cut back on the chocolate but for now chasing a toddler and crawling baby is enough for me.
You will sleep again, one day, when Maisie was first born John and I took shifts to hold her while she slept so the other could sleep, but with Luna we didn’t have that luxury, we had a toddler to chase and we soon found our new rhythm which really helped our sleep. Yes I’m still tired and at 9 months Luna doesn’t often sleep through BUT I am getting a lot more sleep these days , I’m mainly tired from chasing the terrors.
“Follow the baby. Don’t try and put in a schedule too early. Just follow their lead and remember that they’ve never been in the world before and you’re their safe space.” Laura from Mama, Eden and Me
Before I gave birth, I envisioned myself as a bit of an earth mama, I would breastfeed my child, wean them on the best food, I would babywear, we would be a bit hippy-ish. In reality, I had a lot of issues breastfeeding, I got mastitis early on which led to sepsis, yet still, I beat myself up for giving up breastfeeding. When Luna came along I wanted to try again, and we lasted ever so slightly longer but I kept getting the beginnings of mastitis in the same breast , this time when I stopped, I didn’t beat myself up, Maisie is happy and healthy as is Luna. If you can breastfeed then fantastic, if you bottle feed for whatever reason then well done you, your baby is fed and well.
“Nap when the baby is napping, the cleaning can wait” Lisa from Less Stuff
Everyone told me that those days fly by, at the time it felt never ending, Maisie had bad reflux and terrible colic and it was hard, but that time did pass and she soon turned into this happy baby (most of the time) and I really loved it but felt guilty for wishing the time away. When Luna came along, she too had reflux and colic, but I found it a bit easier to deal with just because I knew it would pass, I knew before long she would be bigger and doing more so I tried to make the most of it and breathe her in before she could start pushing me away. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard and there weren’t evenings when she just cried and cried and I wondered if I was cut out for this, it just made it a little easier.
“I have been lucky enough to have 2 lots of kids, c. 10 years apart. I’d say ‘don’t wish their life away and think ‘when they do xyz, it’ll be so much better / easier’ because it’s not, it’s just different. With each new stage comes new challenges. Give me sleep deprivation any day over teenager’s heartache and attitude!!” Maud at Momo and the Gang
“Don’t make any life changing decisions (divorce, job, moving to the sticks to open a garden centre) in the first year as a new parent. You are clearly out of your mind. ” Lucianne from The Tantrum Times
I let a lot of people meet Maisie early on and everyone wanted to hold her and I found that hard, especially on the odd occasion she would cry and someone wouldn’t hand her back. When Luna was born I kept visitors to small numbers and I was very guarded with her, I wasn’t afraid to decline cuddles or to take her back if I needed her, I knew how important it was for my mental health and our bond, nothing else mattered.
“Don’t have too many visitors at once. For me it was really overwhelming trying to play host” Jenna from PhotoJenn
Gadgets and toys and stuff
So many gadgets and bits I bought before Maisie was born were barely used because they just weren’t practical, and people love to buy teddies and toys, babies really do not need much and we ended up with a load of stuff barely used.
“Don’t buy any white clothes (even sleepsuits or vests), so that you can chuck everything in the wash in one go (poo stains do come out!) That applies to mum’s clothes too! “ Gemma from Mummy’s Waisted
“Don’t buy too many clothes, they grow so fast that buying clothes is a continuous battle in itself! ” Marty from MartyRogers
I found it so hard to get out and yet when I did it always made the day better, the second time around I know how important it is, just for our sanity, sometimes a trip to the park takes longer to prepare than the trip itself but 9/10 it’s worth it.
Rest and Take the Help
I was too busy trying to compete with those other mums that are up and out doing things straight after giving birth it really didn’t help my body heal, I also had a lot of pride and wanted to prove I could manage and do it all, yet often felt like I was drowning and just wanted a break of any sort. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to give up the housework to take some time to get some rest yourself, babies/kids are exhausting! Even now if I’ve had a hectic morning and I’m knackered I have learnt to take the opportunity of the girls nap time to have a nap myself. It can be the difference to what gets me through the rest of the day. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to get help if you think you may have PND, I was so scared the first time around in case I was judged, I wish I had gotten help sooner.
“Don’t be scared to ask for help. That comes in many forms. It can be asking someone to watch the baby while you shower, to asking your doctor and midwife for advice. ” Lindsay at Latte Lindsay
“Don’t ignore your body and what it’s telling you. I nearly missed out on correcting my twisted pelvis because I was too busy being a new mum” Ruth at Craft with Cartwright
“If people ask you what they can buy you as a gift, don’t be afraid to ask for gift cards. Means you can make those expensive purchases a bit more bearable. (Vouchers paid for our cot!)” Sinead from Sinead Latham
Forgive Yourself and Praise Yourself
A big part of parenting is mum guilt that comes with every decision you make. I often didn’t like going to baby groups because I felt like it was my baby that would cry and there was always that boasting parent there with their crowd of followers as they say how well their baby sleeps and can speak Arabic and is already doing oil trade deals at 12 weeks old. I can bet you any money that parent is one of three things;
a) A cyborg sent from the future to make other parents feel inadequate
b) A genetic mutation of parent and child
c) Lying to keep up appearances.
My vote is generally C, I have seen a few possible A’s though….
“Guilt is delivered with the placenta! It’s part and parcel of parenthood. Try not to feel guilty about everything. You’re doing the best you can and it will be ok.” Clare at Challenge Clare
“Take endless photos. Make people take photos of you with the kids. Now years later one of my greatest joys is looking back at the early days and all the photos we took, the years go so fast. And one of my biggest regrets is that I don’t have more. ” Kate from Ever After with Kids
“You’ll question everything you do, but trust your instinct and know that you are doing a superb job.” Amy at A Mum Full of Dreams
You are doing an amazing job, don’t forget that because it’s the most important thing. Being a parent is the most rewarding job but also the hardest, just remember you are never alone. I would also love to hear what advice you would give your former self?