As a first time mum, I’m definitely no expert when it comes to parenting. But having been a mum to baby R for 4 months, I’ve come to realise that there are 5 things I wish I knew about mummy hood to ease me into my new role. I’m hoping that by sharing my thoughts in this space, I’ll be able to help new mummies or soon-to-be mummies too.
1) Not to have any expectations of your child
Well-meaning friends and even the mummy community at large love to share about their children’s development. How much they weigh, how much they eat, whether they sleep through the night and which milestones they’ve achieved. Being a first time mum, I realised such information stressed me up more than anything else. For instance, I wondered why baby R was still waking up every 1.5-2 hours to feed, why she couldn’t sleep in her cot, didn’t seem to enjoy tummy time or put on as much weight. Instead of celebrating the milestones that she achieved ahead of her time (she loves books and is able to take instructions!), I was focusing on those that she hadn’t yet achieved, which I believe is unhealthy behaviour in the long run because every child grows differently and should be given the opportunity to develop to their full potential at their own pace. As a parent, I have learned to embrace that and as long as baby R is happy and healthy, that’s all that matters.
2) Not every baby is a textbook baby
I’m talking about strict routines, awake timings, sleep training and methods to teach your child to self soothe or to sleep through the night. I’ve tried some of them and while I seemed to be successful initially, the success was almost always short lived.
I had an epiphany one morning and decided to put a stop to everything. Instead, I decided to observe baby R closely to understand her preferences and behaviour better. Don’t get me wrong. I always made it a point to observe her but I think previously, I was more preoccupied with fitting her into a routine or using a particular method to train her. I mean, the lack of sleep is real and you don’t exactly make the best decisions when you are sleep deprived. I know she’s only 4 months old but I can tell she is so much happier now. She has always been smiley but she used to cry the house down as well. Now, she hardly cries and smiles all the time, even in her sleep.
I guess only a mother will be able to understand what her child needs, so do what you deem fit and don’t let someone else (or some book) make you feel bad about it.
3) You will feel alone
This rings true especially for nursing mums because who else can substitute you in the wee hours of the night? And in my household, nobody hears baby R’s cries when they’re fast asleep. Except me.
Adjusting to this new lifestyle took a while, but always remember there are tons of nursing mums out there who are awake in the dead of the night too. I find that connecting with mummy communities on Facebook and WhatsApp groups really help.
And again, always remember that this too shall pass but the bond with your child will last a lifetime.
One day, she’s not going to need her mummy anymore.
4) It’s ok to not feel ok sometimes
After all, a mummy’s body went through a lot. The physical trauma from birthing and hormonal changes wrecking havoc, coupled with perpetual lack of sleep and the responsibility of raising a child – yup, a recipe for disaster. I have on many occasions broken down because I simply felt overwhelmed. And that’s ok (as long as it’s not an everyday affair) because raising a human is no mean feat!
5) Get the best mattress, skincare and vitamins
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Can’t get enough sleep? What you can’t get in quantity, you make up for it in quality. I currently co sleep with baby R in a bid to get more sleep and I also realised that when you have a good mattress, it makes a world of difference. Same with skincare. For me, eye cream, skin brightening serum and sun block are my must-haves to look presentable. I’ll leave my beauty regime for another post if you’re interested to find out more.
Oh yes, remember your vitamins too. You need to stay in the pink of health to care for your little one!