Domesticali is probably one of the first creativity blog that I ever read. Ali always has the right way of saying things...good or bad, funny or sad! This is why I really wanted her point of view about babies, motherhood and projectile poo!
When Claudia asked me to contribute a little something to her mother project it got me thinking. What would I like to have known eleven years ago when this parenthood business first began? Honestly, what wouldn’t I have liked to know! I was so ignorant about the realities of babies. Before I had my own, I had only held a newborn about five times and I had changed precisely one nappy before confronted with those produced by my own firstborn.
But I figured I was an intelligent human – no eight pound scrap was going to expose my ignorance. So I embarked on a course of study. Really, I read every childbirth and babyhood manual I could get my hands on. I bought the magazines, I went to the Aqua Natal Exercise and Pregnancy Yoga classes. I took two childbirth classes and tours of the hospital and midwife led birthing unit in my area. I was going to be prepared. I’d tell you about the Excel spreadsheet I had for the baby equipment I thought I would need, but then you really might think I was insane.
And, in hindsight, perhaps I was (slightly). I had been made redundant when I was 5 months pregnant, which I was actually pretty pleased about, because I knew I wanted to stay at home once the baby was born. But it did leave me with an awful lot of planning time. And the problem is, it is truly difficult to plan for an unknowable situation. And a first baby is exactly that.
I think my preparations for the childbirth part of becoming a mother did serve me well. I made it through a hideous 36 hours of labour with a posterior baby and only gas and air. Mostly because I wasn’t frightened of what was happening to me. I think if I had been less well informed, the outcome might have been very different. Afterwards I felt really proud of myself – but there was no accolade, no medal ceremony. What, in my head had been the goal, was really the beginning.
I think I realized this the very next morning when all the grandparents turned up to see the baby. He began to wail and they passed him …. to me! They, with about 100 years of parenting experience between them and I was the one responsible??
And make no mistake, that learning curve is a steep one. Operating all the new equipment was enough of a challenge. The car seat, the pram, even my own breasts. Everything was new and I felt like an alien in my own body. Now add to that the exhaustion of having a newborn and the inevitable hormonal stew and you are left with a lethal cocktail. It’s a miracle anyone makes it through. Especially if, like me, you are a planner and think you have covered all the bases.
So, what advice do I have for new mothers? Lower your expectations, then lower them some more and still be prepared to feel like a failure. It’s part of the territory, and it’s not just you. Any day that ends with both you and the baby still alive and with a shred of sanity should be treated as a triumph. Learn to go with the flow. And when that’s hard, repeat to yourself ‘This too shall pass’.
Because no amount of preparation can teach you the art of dodging a projectile poo when you are changing a nappy. Some knowledge can only be acquired on the job. And it’s a pretty great one, it just takes a little getting used to, so be kind to yourself.
Thank you so much Ali.
Note to myself: don't say anything about the Excel spreadsheet!!!