Just before Christmas, my youngest brother Tom and his long-term girlfriend announced they were expecting their first baby. My very first niece or nephew is due in July – I am SO excited.
I’m sure Kim and Tom are going to receive lots of little gems of advice, and will probably turn to books, internet forums and the like for advice and ideas. I thought I would offer them, and any other first time parents to be some real advice, from someone who has done it three times over and has survived. Just about anyway.
- Labour is going to hurt. There’s not really a way around it. Whether baby comes out of the same place it got in or through the sunroof, there’s going to be blood, swearing, gunk and pain. But it goes away relatively quickly and it’s all worth it.
- It doesn’t matter how the baby comes out. As long as it comes out one way or another and mum and baby are safe. Everyone wants the perfect birth, but it doesn’t always happen like that. No one is more superior than anyone else because of the way they gave birth. Don’t be a hero as well – if you want every type of pain relief they offer you, take it. You won’t get a medal for not using pain relief.
- Feeding – breast fed, bottle fed – just feed them in the way that suits your baby, you and your family the best. Ignore the haters that pressurise you one way or another.
- You’re going to be knackered. Everyone says this of course. Some days you will barely function, and it will be all you can do to make it through the day. Other days you will have a burst of energy. Make the most of those days.
- You absolutely cannot spoil a baby cuddling them too much, and anyone who says otherwise is a t*at. If you want to hold them all day, then bloody hold them all day. They are soon two-year-old monsters who don’t want a cuddle.
- If they’re screaming and you feel like you’re about to lose the plot – it’s fine to put them down somewhere safe and go and shut yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes and cry. No one will judge. Babies do cry for absolutely no reason other they can.
- Avoid Mumsnet like the plague. And the Daily Mail. Whatever you are doing, you’re doing it wrong and you will fu*k up your children according to them.
- You will f*ck up. Whether you accidentally let them roll off the bed*, feed them fish pie when they clearly think it is revolting and throw up all over you**, or run out of nappies/formula at 11pm when there are no 24-hour shops around***, you will do something wrong. Don’t beat yourself up about it – just deal with it, learn from it and move on. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. If you try to be one, you’ll go insane.
- Whatever shitty stage you are in – colic, teething, weaning, potty training, terrible twos – it will pass. Another equally shitty stage will be along soon for you to deal with. It’s all part of the fun. But there are plenty of not so shitty bits in between to enjoy – the gurgles and the giggles, the first ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, that first gummy smile, the sloppy, snotty open mouthed kisses – it’s all worth it. Honestly.
- You will lose friends – I guarantee it – you can’t go out on the piss every weekend anymore and you will live in a baby bubble. Once those novelty newborn days are over, you’ll notice that half of your friends won’t bother with you anymore. F*ck them. You will make new ones who understand your new life. No one understands what it is like until they have a baby.
- No nappy will ever hold explosive shit. When a poonami strikes, god help you. Good luck with that one.
- You will end up judging other parents. Even if you think you won’t. Just judge quietly and don’t be a dick about it.
- Everyone and their aunt has an opinion on how to raise a baby. Some of it is useful, most of it is shit because they haven’t raised YOUR baby. Listen, nod, and do what you need to do. There is never only one way of doing something. Go with your instinct. It’s right most of the time. And if anyone asks if they are a ‘good’ baby, answer with “Well, they haven’t robbed any banks yet so I guess so”.
- Don’t worry about losing that baby tummy straight away. It’s going to be stretchmarked and wrinkly and funny for a bit, and it will (probably) get better at some point. Unless you have three kids in 4 years and have a fondness for cake (ahem). Instead of worrying about, enjoy your time with baby. If you want to eat cake, eat it. Go for walks and do some gentle exercise if you want, but don’t put pressure on yourself. That time is SO precious.
- It’s fine if you never ever want to leave your baby and don’t want anyone else to look after them or hold them. It’s fine if you can’t wait to go for a night out and leave them with nanny or grandad (or you know, bring them to Wales and let Auntie Rachel look after them). Neither makes you a bad mum or dad.
- Make sure you look after one another. Having a baby is a HUGE adjustment and whether they are a ‘good’ (yep, there’s that word again) baby or a screamy, colicky non-sleeper, it will have an effect on you both. Emotions run high and chuck in some nice crazy hormones and a lack of sleep and you have the perfect recipe for a row. Take a deep breath, make the other person a cup of tea and talk about something other than the baby. Don’t make any big decisions in those early days.
- Ask for help. Whether it’s from an HV or doctor, a friend, your mum or the next door neighbour. You don’t get brownie points for struggling by yourself.
- If you start feeling like shit, go to the doctors or talk to your HV. The sooner the better.
- Enjoy it. It’s hard. It’s tiring. It’s smelly and grim at times. Your life will be turned upside down and spun around faster than any fairground ride you could ever go on. But it’s bloody amazing. I promise you.
- On a more personal note – Kim and Tom I know you will be f*****g amazing parents. My kids absolutely adore you and I see how good you are with them. I love you both and I am so excited for you. xxx
A big thank you to Louise from Birds and Lilies, Zara from Mojo Blogs, Stacey from Stacey in the Sticks and Maria from Suburban Mum who all gave some brilliant words of advice. They all rock at being mums.
*This may have happened to me with Harrison. And Alex. And quite possibly Benjamin. They’re all ok.
** This may have happened with Harrison. I may then have followed by throwing up all over him because fishy baby vomit stinks. Lesson learnt.
***This may have happened on more than one occasion, including last week. Keep an emergency nappy in the kitchen, the car and your handbag. You will need them at some point