Damn Girl, I Wish I’d Known That
A very good friend of mine is about to have her first little baba and has been asking me questions throughout her pregnancy. I find myself trying to be as real and honest with her as possible. The reason for this is because when I was pregnant, I started reading and researching and reading some more, absorbing as much as I possibly could before the big day.
I signed up for the e-mail up-dates (you know the ones that say things like: ‘this week your baby is the size of a lemon’). I bought baby books, I googled everything, I started following Mama bloggers and I spoke to friends and family who were already parents. Overall, the advice and information was all fairly similar. And yet when the big day does arrive, it doesn’t matter how much you have tried to take in, you are so completely overwhelmed and UNDER PREPARED!
So looking back now, there are definitely a few things I wish I had known. Whether they would have made sense to me then or only make sense to me now that I am a Mama, I do not know. But here is my Top 10 ‘Damn Girl… I wish I’d known That’ List…
1. People told me that having a baby is scary. They left out that it is both the mild panic of a new-born crying kind of scary, as well as the raw, vulnerable ‘how am I ever going to do this’ type of scary. I wish I’d known that those fears would always be around. My fears haven’t gone away in two years so I guess they’re here to stay. I used to let them consume me at times, wonder how I will cope, wonder if I am good enough. But now I welcome them in when they pop up. Those fears keep us Mamma’s on our toes, and make us pursue to be better each and every day. Welcome your fears in, make them a cup of coffee, and let them sit and watch you own this Mama thing!
2. I wish I’d known that my body would have a complete melt-down after the baby was born. Seriously, it’s a mess. Not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically you are up and down for months. I would go from cuddling with my sweet baby girl to sobbing over a cup of tea in 10 minutes. It was crazy and I did not expect it at all. I also wish I’d known that this rollercoaster ride is totally normal and would not last forever. If I could go back to 2011-me, I would say ‘ride it out and feel the emotions because pretty soon it is all going to be just fine’.
3. I wish I’d known that the pregnancy mushy-brain lasts way into the first 6 months of a baby’s life. You will still stop mid-sentence and have no idea what you were saying. You will still open the fridge and then suddenly remember you were supposed to be answering the door. So be prepared for those awkward moments, just see the humour in it, laugh at yourself and move on.
4. I wish I’d known what the reality of being awake with a 3 week old baby at 2am would really feel like. To say you will understand that you won’t sleep much when the baby is born is actually a laugh. The power of exhaustion is unbelievable and nothing prepares you for it. In those first few weeks, having baby-daddy put me to sleep one night at 8pm and do the night shift so I could sleep for 12-hours-straight literally saved me. Do not underestimate the power of a good night’s rest. And do not underestimate the power of asking for help.
5. I wish I’d known that some of the things you read and get told are just not true. For example: ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. These people who suggest this to you clearly do not understand that when the baby sleeps you have to shower, wash your hair, cook, clean the dishes, make your house presentable for the million visitors coming over every day, shop for groceries, try to remember to feed yourself, return calls and prepare for the baby to wake up. Good luck fitting a nap in there!
6. Having said that, I wish I’d known that some days you just won’t get a chance to wash your hair, or remember to eat or even change out of your PJ’s. And looking back now, that is just amazing. Make sure you have a few supportive people in your life so that you don’t have to stress about the dishes or the cooking, and just sit back and enjoy a PJ day with your new favourite little person; just you and your baby and nothing to do all day but cuddle and love her.
7. I wish I’d known that while becoming a Mama is the greatest thing I think I will ever do, it is also freakin’ hard. You will sacrifice everything you once held as important for the sake of your child. And the crazy thing about it is you won’t even mind. From the menial things like getting to finish a cup of hot tea, having bathroom privacy or buying those cute new heels that cost half of your salary, to the bigger things like career choices, choosing to give up on certain dreams to embrace new ones and choosing which people you want in your child’s life and which friendships are better left in the past. Everything will change and I don’t think I was fully prepared for that.
8. I wish I’d known that having a child would change my perspective of life, of other people and of myself. Becoming a Mama sparked a sense of empathy in me that I had no idea existed. I can no longer hear the news without empathising with the Mama whose child was kidnapped, or whose soldier son died, or whose athlete daughter won gold. Having your own child makes you feel like a Mother to the world, you literally have tears of joy or heartache for everything you hear as you imagine that that child is your child, and that child’s Mama is you.
9. I wish I’d known that no amount of research or reading or googling will ever beat your own natural Mama instinct. Trust your gut when it comes to your baby, you are her Mama for a reason and you damn well know what is best for her!
10. Finally, I wish I’d known that nothing you have ever done or achieved or felt will ever compare to the love you feel for your baby. It is an indescribable feeling to look into a child’s eyes knowing that she is a part of you and that you created her. I cannot tell you what it will feel like for you, but I can tell you that when I first held my daughter, she became my everything.
So to my dear friend who is about to become a Mama, I hope this gives you a tiny bit of insight into what is in store for you. There will be a million things you won’t know, moments of panic and stress, fear like you have never felt before, but overall there will be nothing but pure and unequivocal love. Get ready Mama-to-be, your heart is about to get a whole lot bigger!