There is really nothing in life that can prepare you for motherhood. Not being an older sibling, working with children, or having an army of nephew and nieces you look after weekly. Having your own baby is a minefield. It’s sleepless nights, endless crying, googling “why does my baby…” far too regularly and in my case, lots of arguments with my husband!
The first few weeks especially were really hard, both my husband and I had zero experience of babies and from the moment we took her home we were on our own. Just holding a new baby is terrifying and having to learn the language of crying is stressful! Is she hungry, dirty nappy, sleepy or even over tired! In our case, after two weeks of endless crying we discovered that Baby A had colic, whilst it was a shock to us its actually quite common, around 1 in 5 babies are. (Here comes the science) Although no ones sure what actually causes colic, it’s thought to be a condition of the gut, it’s still growing and adjusting to life outside the womb! Colic babies cry for over three hours a day for more than 3 days a week for over 3 weeks. Add this to a new mothers cocktail of sleepless nights and hormones and you have the beginnings of a real horror show.
I was really fortunate that I was able to get out and about with my baby from very early on. I have family and friends near by and my husband would take us out in the evenings, even if it was for a drive. I can’t express how much this helped my mental health. My baby hates her pushchair, I think it’s because she hates being on her back. My sister adviced me to try out her sling and it honestly changed my whole life (no exaggeration) if I was to recommend a single item to new parents, a sling would be on top of my list. Baby A loves being close to me and I can go and explore the whole of London knowing she is safe and comfortable next to me. Generally she falls asleep within the first 10 minutes of being in there. The other plus point is that I don’t have to get into Pushchair wars with all the other mums on public transport (I don’t drive).
By around the 12 weeks mark I started to feel more comfortable with my baby. I think maybe because she was putting on weight well and was more substantial, so I wasn’t afraid of handling her, and also we’d found our rhythm. Now I feel like she doesn’t have to cry to let me know what’s what, I kinda already know. Babies also start to develop their own personalities, so watching her smile, hearing her laugh, seeing her trying to figure stuff out all became fun rather than stressful. And then around 4 months the colic suddenly disappeared.
It’s hard when you take a baby out to meet friends and family, or if they’re visiting and your baby is always crying. You have to hear words like “naughty” or receive unwelcome advice about what your doing wrong. The thing is, people will use negative language and give unsolicited advice, you just have to accept that. Somehow you just have to smile and nod and maybe scream after they leave! Babies can’t be naughty and, fun fact, they cry! If your blessed with a silent baby then good for you, but most of us mums have to deal with screaming fits.
Around 16 weeks I also noticed that some of the baby fat I was carrying started to fall off. I’m exclusively breastfeeding, and although you hear stories about fat just sliding of breast feeding mothers, I remained quite big for a while. To be fair I never exercised or watched what I ate, although I wanted to, I was just too busy! I’m very much a believer that it takes a whole year for you to get back to pre-pregnancy weight, if you want to do it in a healthy way. At 21 weeks postpartum I’m about 1.5 stones heavier than I should be. I’ve started to do some yoga, but that’s mostly to help strengthen my back!
The last 21 weeks + 41 of pregnancy have been such an exciting and life altering journey for me. Every day my baby does something that fills me with love, and everyday I learn something about motherhood. It’s hard. It’s also the most fulfilling, rewarding and loving experience of my life.