I was recently talking to a work friend whose first child is due any day now. He was finding it hard to get his head round the fact that he would imminently have a little person that was his. It made me reflect back on that time before H was born; When she was an oh-so-familar stranger in my tummy affectionately referred to as ‘Mini’. Thinking about who I was then and who I am now, I’m the same yet so different. I’ve learnt so much in the last 18 months and grown as a person. I no longer feel like someone playing at motherhood – I feel like a mum. I am a mum!
But it’s been a full-on journey to get here. If I had been able to take a glimpse at how I would be 18 months into parenthood, I think I would have been overwhelmed by what I saw. But I hope I would also have been impressed and proud! In the early days I had no idea what I was doing, nor did Sam. It’s all about finding your way and learning through practice. Instincts really do take over (certainly from my experience as a mother) and you learn to read your baby’s personal needs. A year and a half on, I no longer compare myself to others; I no longer question my decisions on how I am caring for H. I trust my decisions and know that I know my daughter and what she needs better than anyone.
That period before the birth of a first child is so strange. It’s full excitement, waiting to meet a brand new person who is part of you. But it’s tempered by anxiety and nerves. No matter what you do, nothing can prepare you for having a child of your own who you are caring for all the time. Everyone offers you hints and tips, or shares their ‘stories’. But what is meant to amuse or help often just scares parents-to-be! Learning to be a parent is a right-of-passage; Having been through it myself I now try to refrain from giving ‘advice’. People will learn for themselves and ask for help if they need it. These days I only offer people a couple of pieces of advice:
- Ensure that they / their partner eats continuously whilst establishing breast-feeding because it gobbles your energy more than you would think;
- That you will learn your way and to trust your instincts, limiting use of Google!
Then I let them know that I am always available to listen and help if they need to get things off their chest or some support.
Living in the moment, as we all do as parents, it’s easy to forget the amazing journey we have all gone through. It’s only when we speak to someone who is about to start that journey for themselves that we realise what we’ve grown into. So to all parents out there, take 5 minutes and think about the incredible journey you’ve been on; Applaud yourself for the amazing job you’re doing and will continue to do. And for those of you at the start line – give yourself time and be patient with yourself. I promise you’ll get there too!