What I Learned: The First Few Months
Originally we had planned to be home within 12 hours of giving birth, but because of a few complications with me and because Walt was sick in the nursery we ended up giving birth on the Monday and not going home till the Friday. At first I was a little disappointed but then I quickly reminded myself, ‘you’re only staying so that the hospital staff can make sure you and Walt are healthy’. My disappointment was then replaced by gratitude for our excellent health care system, I cannot recommend Calvary Hospital enough, especially the Birth Centre they’re amazing (Monica you’re a babe).
After we got discharged we did the usual thing of spending ages trying to work out how to put Walt into his seat, Caleb had got the seat installed by Kidsafe but actually fitting a newborn into it (especially because we own a 2 door Yaris) took some skill. We drove, me telling Caleb to slow down every minute. When we finally arrived home there were no more nurses or midwives, it was just us.
1. Parenting Expert – Very quickly I learned I needed to become an expert, not on all children, just on my own. The first couple of weeks we spent a lot of our time learning Walt’s likes and dislikes, the noises he made when he had gas or his ‘last attempt at staying awake cry’ (which is different to his pain cry and hungry cry). Observation is hard when you’re exhausted, but it’s made our life so much easier going forward. It’s also given me confidence when people try and tell me things about my baby to say “No that’s not it” and for me to know I’m right. Being a relaxed parent has meant becoming a good problem solver and it’s much easier to solve problems when you know what the problem is! (side note: sometimes babies cry for no reason and none of your problem solving skills are going to stop it)
2. Attitude – Attitude is everything, I could choose to be stressed or I could choose to be relaxed. I applied this model to everything, sleep, routine, uncontrollable crying and it worked! What could have been a stressful time in my life turned into being something lovely. You might be thinking ‘well you’re obviously a naturally relaxed person’ and you would be wrong (you can ask Caleb about that), I’m naturally a worrier and pretty fearful, but I didn’t want to be that kind of Mum. Every time something stressful happened I would remind myself “You have two choices” and I would choose to be relaxed (most of the time, sometimes you just have to hand the baby to your husband and walk away for a few minutes).
3. Sleep – The thing all new parents are the most nervous about, with good reason. The first few nights were stressful, I remember looking at Caleb and asking “Remember when evenings were the most relaxing time of the day? When we looked forward to going to sleep?” he laughed “Yep and now it’s the worst part of the day”. We worked really hard on making sure Walt knew his days from nights and helped him get into a sleeping routine, this is because the classes we attended and the books we read talked about how babies crave order and without it they can get stressed. I figure it’s already pretty stressful being a baby…your head has been squashed into a cone shape so you can exit the only home you’ve ever known, strangers pinch your cheeks to make you breath, sometimes you’ve eaten your own poop and your new family dresses you in clothes with puppies embroidered on them. The least we can do is make the rest of his life calm and as stress free as possible. I’m the lady that the non-routine mums hate, I read their strongly worded sometimes rude blog posts about mums who use a sleep routine and I can only laugh…do what works for you and don’t be angry at people for being different. I use the eat, activity, sleep routine if you’re wondering and it works a treat.
4. Breastfeeding – It’s lovely, but sometimes it feels like someone is rubbing sandpaper over your nipples. The main things I learned was you’re not a failure if you can’t breastfeed, even if the nurses seem to be criticising you they’re only trying to help and it gets way easier after a while and you’ll be able to put away the shields and cream (these are two things which helped a lot – good old lanolin and these compresses are magic!).
I have so much more I could write, I’m learning new things every day. But the biggest thing I’ve learned is to enjoy this time, people complain about the lack of sleep and all the other gross stuff that goes along with parenting, but fun fact: you’ve got the rest of your life to sleep. These babies are only tiny and snuggly for a short window, don’t spend that window complaining about how hard it is, instead watch them sleep, kiss them as much as possible and be that crazy annoying Mum that tells everyone how amazing her baby is. Talking about amazing babies…if you want to see more of mine go here.