My First Month as a New Mom
Things have been pretty hectic but somehow I have managed to find an hour to put down some observations that came to my mind in the last four weeks. I won’t put this off, as otherwise there’s a high chance I will forget it all together. It happens quite often lately, my memory is failing. I was hoping for this to be over after the birth or little Eva, but no. There are some other things that you should probably be aware of, besides the “baby brain”, if kids are on your agenda.
I have heard many things that turned out to be truth regarding the parenthood, but there are many common misconceptions that probably need addressing. So here is my take on the pregnancy and the first month of parenting. Please be aware that everyone’s experiences will vary.
- Stretch marks happen in the most bizarre places. I have spent the entire nine months oiling my belly to death using combination of Bio Oil and essential oils from Aromatherapy Associates at £40 for a bottle the size of a tequila shot, only to discover this fact. As much as the belly is the most visual change when it comes to your body, other parts get bigger too. I ended up with amazingly smooth, stretch mark free skin over my tummy, only to get zebra like all over my ass, boobs and everywhere else. You may not feel like those forgotten parts are getting much bigger, but they are. Moisturise everything, three times a day. Every single day.
- Be the biggest hypochondriac. Doctors can be wrong. Pregnancy is not the time you want to experience any health related mistakes. If something bothers you, Google the symptoms before you visit your GP, so that you can ask relevant questions.
- Make informed decision regarding your chosen delivery method and don’t let people bully you into anything else. Everyone seems to have an opinion regarding the best delivery method for you and your child. Do your research, analyse your options and don’t let people push you around. I knew I’m going to be cut open and get my elective c-section even if I was to perform it myself. Reason? I was always paranoid about about childbirth and decided my husbands penis may just be the biggest thing to will ever make it in or out of my vagina. Newborns are huge. No amount of convincing will ever make me go into labor if any other option is available, and in many countries there is. Elective cesarian is still frowned upon. Everyone is trying to talk you out of it, and some people are genuinely concerned, as it’s not a small operation. Others are called NHS and they are mostly concerned about keeping the numbers of ECs down, as it costs them money. They will delay it, avoid booking it until the day before your due date or try and get you an appointment with a shrink to make sure you are not mentally unstable. If cesarian is truly what you want, stick to your guns: threaten with organisations protecting your choice, like CQC. File a formal complain in the hospital, no hospital likes that as they all need to be properly registered and acted upon. Do not mention you are scared of it, as it will open another door for the doctor to request a letter from a shrink confirming you suffer with tocophobia (fear of giving birth). Even if the law in your country allows you to have an elective c-section, be ready to answer many questions and knock on a few doors, as it’s never that straight forward. Whatever you choose: know your pros and cons and get as much information as you can.
- Take pictures. If you are reading this early in your pregnancy, there’s still time! Go get a photo-shoot booked. If you are not mad about having your photos taken, now really is the time. The chances of anyone having the pre-pregnancy figure post delivery are pretty slim. Unless you are determined and have a great partner who is willing to sit with your child whilst you are sweating for hours at your local gym, you will most likely go up a dress size.
- Get on good terms with any family or friends that live close by. You will most likely need them in the next few years more than you even did.
- Have sex. If your sex life was previously determined by your ovulation and even a though of your partner finishing inside was giving you nightmares, fear no more. You cannot get any more pregnant than you are now.
- Read one book on pregnancy. Any more than that and you will most likely get mixed informations. There is as much advice out there as there is babies and if you commit your whole pregnancy to loading up on information, you will get headache. “What to expect when you are expecting” was good enough for me. I did not need anything else. It tells you about any changes you may expect at different stages of your pregnancy and it’s fairly detailed
- You do not need everything that’s got “newborn” on it. Common misconceptions: wipe warmer, nappy bin or baby changing station are far from necessary. Imagine changing your child in a shopping mall. Your wipe warmer won’t be available and (nooo!) you may have to use a cold wet wipe! Your child, used to the royal treatment, is going to think you’re an arsehole. Spare them the trauma and get them used to lower standards early. Nappy bin may come in handy if you are feeding your child formula as their poo will stink like a rotten badger. Breast fed child doesn’t poo to this hazardous standard as it’s all fairly natural. In both cases I would not bother with a nappy bin, but even more so when you are breast feeding. If the smell bothers you after the delivery, you can always get the bin later on. Same goes for any sort of nappy changing stations. I made a mistake of ordering a custom made, colour matched one. It’s never been used as baby tends to poop anywhere he or she fancy and rarely will you take them back to get changed in a specially prepared room. Mostly you will be changing on the fly, whilst holding a fork and trying to finish your hastily prepared lunch. Sofas, floors, tables, any flat space will suffice.
- You may not love your baby at first. Ever heard anyone saying that child is the biggest blessing and you will never love anyone more than your baby? Well that may be true for some, but it may take a while for you to get to this stage. Sometimes it’s longer than you think. Don’t freak out. it’s all new and even after a month or so you may still not comprehend the fact you are now a “parent”. I mean kids are what “adults” have, and kids “happen to other people”, right? It’s all very confusing. You have a person that depends on you 100% when in many cases you are still not quite sure you are responsible enough to look after yourself in the first place. Relax. It will come. Eventually.
- Breastfeeding is fu**ing hard. If you consider childbirth the end of your pains, you have another thing coming. Unless you are set on formula feeding or simply cannot breast feed for any reason, your next few months (or however long it lasts) are going to consist of having your boobs in and out of your child’s mouth. If you want to imagine the feeling, stick a hoover to your nipple for 10 to 40 minutes every hour for at least a day. Unlike guys, women don’t respond that well to having their bits sucked and gently bitten for prolonged periods of time. Breast is best and by all means, do it for the baby, but just like with c-section, breast feeding is another type of baby politics, and you will find many women being fairly opinionated on the subject. The ones who had done it feel like it’s the most obvious solution and cannot understand why would anyone choose anything else (similar situation to the vaginal delivery v c-section conundrum). The ones who chose the bottle never shut up about how fabulous it is that they can have a drink and leave their partner to feed the baby. Do what’s right for you and for your child. I was adamant to breast feed, but since I wasn’t aware that it takes longer after the c-section to produce milk, I went into massive meltdown mode in the hospital, not being able to produce enough milk straight away. I felt like a failed mother before I even started. Thank God for the amazingly patient nurses that I had the pleasure to met in ward. They were saints and got me through it, no matter how many times I wanted to quit. I must have said “just get me the bloody bottle” a million times, but they went above and beyond their duty and I managed not to lose my rag and plod through. The first week was comparable to having your tits sucked by piranha (and this kid was not born with her teeth out!!), but it did got better. Now the main nuisance is not the actual pain, but the fact I need to be available like a milking cow at any time of the day, but then again it’s all for the greater good, right? Oh, and if you decide on breastfeeding: get nipple cream. It may just be the smartest, most useful baby related purchase you’ll ever make.
- Newborns eat more than bulimic person at “all you can eat” restaurant. You will be shocked when you realise that. Oh! And it’s not only your baby who eats that much. They all do. It’s unbelievable but you just got to accept it.
- You don’t need special maternity pads. The ones you use during your period are more than enough and cost 1/10 of the price. If you were born in the 80s you may still remember the times when instead of nice smelling, absorbent ones with wings, we got this:
- This is what maternity pad looks like: an old fashion pad for your period. It’s chunky, not very absorbent and expensive. Forget it. Get your normal pads. Save money.
- Introduce your newborn to your pet. This may sound ridiculous to anyone who hasn’t got animals and pretty sound to those of you who live with a dog or even a cat. In our house we treat our dog like a part of a family, so it was pretty obvious to read Cesar Milan’s take on introducing your dog to your newborn. We did what he suggested but quickly got too busy with the new baby to care about our dog’s feelings. Every time he got curious and came close to our daughter, he was told off and shouted at. He wanted to constantly lick her ears and sniff her and soon we were shouting at him even if he only came closer to have a look at the new creature that probably sounded like a chicken to him. After three weeks of screaming and constantly pushing him away, our dog Toby got depressed. It may seem ridiculous, and just like us you may be surprised that animals can even get depressed but they can, and it’s heart breaking. He stopped eating, constantly walked as though someone is about to hit him, with his tail between his legs. He didn’t want to play, and the only thing that seemed to cheer him up slightly was a walk, as that’s was the only way to get away from the creature he was now jealous of. When in the same room as our daughter, he chose to sit with his back towards her, and when she started crying, he was running out of the room. He stopped coming near her, and not even a sausage could put a smile on his hairy face. We had to make conscious decision to spend more quality time with him, take him for more walks, and let him be a part of Eva’s life too, even if this meant letting him lick her ear every now and then. It took us almost a week to get “our” Toby back, but now we are more careful and give him the time he deserves and try not to compromise on the length and quality time we spend together.
- Sign up for Netflix. If you’ve never been a fan of daytime (or nigh time) tv, and somehow you never liked reading, this may be a life saver. Newborn sleeps around 18 hours in a day. Those are not the hours you will be able to spend having mani-pedis or long, hot showers, as they need near constant attention, at least for the first few months. This will leave you on the sofa, with a cup of coffee, not being able to concentrate on anything productive, feeling totally fucked. Nothing better than a brain numbing movie and a bowl of popcorn to relax.
- Sign up for online grocery delivery. This leaves you more time for the said Netflix.
- Name legal guardians for your kids. Dying is probably not something you are bothered about now, but if it was to happen, you are no longer just a body disposal burden for your family. You now have a human who was counting for you to see their graduation. If you and your partner die together, your kids will most likely end up in a childrens’ home or foster care, even if there is family who would love to take them. There is a solution to this problem, and although it’s not 100% guaranteed (you cannot force your kids on anyone), it may help to reduce the administration burden and mental trauma if your kids were ever to face this problem. Just like a will for your assets, you should prepare a will where you name chosen custodians for your kids. Think carefully and discuss this matter with whoever you choose, whether it’s your parents or your close friends, before making it formal. If you chose someone living in a different country, make sure you check the law regarding having your kids moved abroad.
- Get your will in place. If you have more than one child, and don’t want your kids to fight over things when you are gone, get your assets down and divided just in case. It saves fighting and animosity between them when you are gone.
- Enjoy it. You may be falling flat on your face and dreaming of uninterrupted bath and scream free space, even in a seedy hotel room with no air-conditioning but really.. your baby will never be this tiny and cute again. And she’s not back-chatting and asking for cash. Make the most of your time together.