New motherhood is a unique and transformational time in a woman’s life. Life as you knew it has changed forever and in addition to working out how to care for a tiny human, you’re also working out who you are now that you are also “mum”.
Inspired by Jamila Rizvi’s new book, The Motherhood, we thought we’d have our own go at writing to our past selves sharing what we wish we’d known about new motherhood.
This week, Jo shares what she wishes she’d known – from reflux and sleep to returning to work and asking for help. Stay tuned for next week for Lucy’s very different take – she doesn’t wish to have known more about her baby, but about herself and who she would become.
Want to join in the fun? We have two copies of Rizvi’s The Motherhood to give away. For a chance to win, all you need to do is find us on Instagram or Facebook and tell us one thing that you wish you could tell your former self about life as a new mum. Easy!
SHE HAS REFLUX! And she will sleep through the night (most of the time) from when she is 6 months old. Woo hoo!!
That’s it. That’s all you need to know. Well – maybe there is a bit more to it than that.
It is challenging
Every stage or “phase” of life of a child brings its own challenges, but so far I haven’t found anything that compares to that initial 3 months with our first daughter.
Don’t feel like it is just you who is having a problem. Being a mum is all so incredibly different from what came before, no one expects it to be a breeze for you.
You will cry a lot; you will feel lonely, and bored; those baby diapers your mother in law buys you will be incredibly handy as your daughter will be spewing up constantly; you will spend a lot of time washing clothes (and “spew rags”); you will understand why depriving people of sleep is used as a torture device; you will feel frustrated often as you ask yourself “What can I do?”. And there will be nights when sometimes your thoughts are so dark you wonder if you might be feeling something approaching postnatal depression.
But those times pass. And will pass faster if you listen to the advice below!
Get rid of the bassinet! (and try different things)
That bassinet does not work. Pity it takes us until baby #3 to figure it out! You will spend too many nights trying countless ways to settle the baby to sleep. There will be the lying flat on the bed with your arm awkwardly cocked over the side of the bassinet patting that baby bottom so much you get pins and needles and arm aches, there will be the walking around upstairs pushing the bassinet and hoping the movement settles her to sleep, there will be the white noise device, the constant “sshhhing” that makes you feel like you are spitting over the baby more than anything else. Something might work once or twice – but nothing sticks.
Why? Because your daughter has reflux. It causes her a lot of pain, she vomits all the time, and doesn’t sleep for long stretches due to the discomfort. Don’t feel like you have to be a super hero with trying a special diet (although it was good for weight loss!). Try the medicine. Who knows? Maybe it will work. And get a co sleeping cot!
Find your tribe and ask for help
Your mothers group will give you some of the best friends you have ever known. But it takes you a while to figure it out. In fact, you don’t start really socialising with them properly until our daughter is 1!
Take some time to get to know them – they are going through the same new experience as you and will be a source of great comfort. They will tell you that they don’t know how to tell when their babies are hungry, tired or just grumpy either! That feelings of boredom are normal.
Get comfortable with being vulnerable and open up and ask for help.
I know – it’s easier said than done!
Don’t feel guilty when you return to work
Returning to work will give you back a sense of your own identity. It will bring back your confidence and belief in yourself and your skills. You are more than a mum – you are you, with your own identity.
Your husband is perfectly capable of looking after his daughter, and your mum loves spending a day with her first grandchild. You are not being an absent, uncaring mother by returning to work. You are giving your daughter an opportunity to develop relationships with other important people in her life, and you are going to be a better mother by having time apart to do other things you enjoy.
Best thing ever
Having this little girl is, and will continue to be, one of the most amazing experiences of our life. Creating a human being is wondrous, and caring for that child, watching them grow and develop, and learning about their unique personality, is a privilege. Remember that and the difficult times won’t seem so bad.
You’re doing a great job.