Updated: Jun 1, 2021
When I was pregnant with Rex, I remember people being all too ready to 'warn' me about what was to come. "Get all the sleep you can now," and "Just you wait". Oh, and don't even get me started on the horror stories people felt the need to share about childbirth or why everyone feels the need to comment on your size when you've a bun in the oven (round up of the best maternity clothes here fyi). I always found these comments to be a tad unnecessary and, frankly, a bit dick-ish.
However, after Rex was born, I understood it, to a degree. These people were sharing their experience and, in their own way, trying to prepare me for the reality of having a baby. And I quickly realised why.
In the weeks after Rex arrived, I honestly felt cheated. I struggled so much I felt weirdly like I'd been sold a lie of what having a baby was going to be like. I was angry that more people hadn't offered me what felt like even the smallest glimpse of reality into this world of newborns, instead all I'd seen in hospitals and information leaflets were perfect photos of sleeping babies and it made me question (endlessly) why my experience was so desperately different.
Because of this, for a while as a new mum I felt like it was my duty to inform new parents that it's not all sunshine and rainbows. To help 'prepare' them, much like the people I refer to as dick-ish above. It was only when I heard myself saying similar things to a pregnant friend that I realised a) it made me a bit of a dick, b) it wasn't helpful, and c) that the truth is no-one knows how they will cope until their baby arrives, so who I was I to tell them they'd struggle?
It took a while for me to realise that motherhood, like a lot of things, is all about balance. For every unbelievably hard moment I've faced since Rex was born (and trust me there have been more than a few), the moments of pure, unconditional love and joy that he's brought to my life far outweigh any of the shit aformentioned. And if I were to ask any of my friends who have kids, I know they would all say the same.
"You're doing it AGAIN?!"
That's a comment I had recently, and probably the one that unnerved/upset me the most. Unbelievably it seems people's want to 'prepare' you for kids doesn't change the more you have, if anything I feel like it makes it worse.
"Two is a game-changer" – and clearly not in a good way. "Get all the rest you can now" – like you can somehow store it up?! And the one above, "Can't believe you're doing it all again!" – which I won't lie was a bit of a tough one to swallow.
I know most people don't know the ins and outs of your past, but as someone who suffered with postnatal depression, I am very aware of how hard having another baby will be. But even if I hadn't experienced it, I'm at a loss as to how anyone might think any of those comments serve a purpose?
The good news is, for me, this time around I feel much more prepared, certainly mentally, and am heading in to it with much more positive mindset. I'd like to think that my experiences of PND will mean I'm more aware of how I feel after this baby is born, I also know who and where to ask for help and that in doing so isn't a sign of weakness or failure. Of course I also know there may be many times that I feel exhausted, defeated and demoralised, but when I feel like that I will look at Rex as reassurance that I am a good mum. And that all I can do is my best.
I know that most people's intentions are good when it comes to trying to prepare new parents, but I wish folk could be a bit more mindful about the words they use. Truth is, no-one knows how they are going to cope with one, two, three, however many babies they choose to have, so who is anyone else to tell them it's going to be a shitshow?
Being Rex's mum is often the most stressful and frustrating experience like, EVER, but it's also the one thing that I wake up and cannot wait to do every single day. (Yes, even on the days after an hour in his company I'm wondering how early I can get him to bed again lol).
There's no denying that being a parent is utterly wonderful, but there's also no hiding from the fact that is also (sometimes very literally) a bit shit. And that balance – the bad and the good – I feel is something all new and expectant mums could benefit from hearing a bit more.
What everyone should really do is check out my list of newborn baby must-haves and present one of these at the news of a new arrival instead haha :).
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