I’m a week into this parenting thing – actually hold on, I’m 10 days into it (I get to count in days because when days are broken down into three hour bursts, they’re really really long!) and I’ve learnt a lot about parenting, or perhaps I’ve learnt about myself.
Number 1. No one actually knows what the hell the answer is.
So you’re on the “antenatal whatsapp group” but you’ve remained silent as others had their babies and discussed weight gain, feeding, formula and vaccinations. Of course besides the necessary congrats that you send as each person announces their safe arrival, gender, name and weight with appropriate picture (some also not so appropriate. No one…No one EVER wants to see the baby covered in the muck. Maybe you want to see it. Its a great memory – except is it? – but no one outside you and your husband, potentially your mother if thats what works for you guys, want to see the muck picture really).
Then its your turn. Ta dah! Here’s our baby. She’s a she. She weighs x. We’re in love and so happy. And so the messages of congrats come in and finally you feel like you’re actually ‘part of the group’ now. That you can participate now. You have arrived as a parent.
Then you send your first question – a baby that gulps down her milk and lands up coughing and spluttering. Surely these ladies, who’ve been doing it for almost 6 weeks already know what I’m doing wrong (am I doing anything wrong?).
Silence. At first. Then the answers are sporadic, random and really inconclusive. The conversation digresses onto baby carriers, or someone else’s arrival announcement. And you’re left with 19% battery life, google and WebMD to turn to.
When in doubt (any doubt at all), ask someone who is trained to answer it. Stay off the antenatal chat. They don’t actually know any more than you do (or that google will reveal. Chances are, they just googled the answer and posted it rather than having any idea. I’m almost certain of this).
Call the Paed. Call your doctor. Call the lady at the Baby Clinic who deals with hundreds of babies and is a trained midwife with a husband who is also a paed (bonus). They know the answers to your questions. First time moms – don’t.
I’ve learnt that Paed, stands for paediatrician (wasn’t rocket science I admit and I did actually know that already. I just didn’t know how many times I’d use the word in conversation post having a baby). And that gynaes make a shit load of money for delivering babies (and even just scanning for them) and that if my daughter excels at science or biology, I’m putting a career of medicine in front of her (oh the poor choices I made in 1999. BComm? Really??)
I’ve learnt that the worry, paranoia and love I have for the little miracle baby that finally found us will likely just escalate over the years. And that I’m also likely to freak out about a number of things. I finally understand that my parents weren’t mean, strict, or ‘old-school’. They too tried hard to have me, and they loved me, wanted to protect me and keep me healthy.
I’ve learnt that I’m private and over-protective… and sensitive to pictures of my child being taken, and shared.
My sister asked me before she changed her profile picture to a photo of her holding our baby. I felt truly respected in that moment and that my baby’s privacy was also respected. I didn’t know I’d feel this way, until I did.
It made me think about how many photos I’ve taken of my godchild or other new babies and posted to instagram or facebook without ever asking if it was ok. The love of parent is unique – and everyone has their own set of boundaries. Not everyone will get mine, but they’re mine (so basically eff off. Oh, I also may have some additional teary hormones going on. So don’t challenge me right now.)
I’ve learnt the word perseverance is the motto to parenting (and to pregnancy)
I want to quit sometimes.
I wanted to quit the pregnancy at 34 weeks when I basically gave my doctor permission to do a c-section that day to end my discomfort. My doctor laughed. And oh, how right she was as week 37, 38, and 39 were proper hell on week 34. Damn know it all Doctors.
Everything about having a baby and being a new parent is about perseverance. Just keep trying.
Mostly I’ve learnt that its effing cold to get out of your bed that has a hungarian goose down duvet (I mention the duvet as it really was a sound investment and I highly recommend the mortgage we took out to buy it) in winter. Getting out of bed for gym is hard. For work it’s also hard. You know when it’s not hard? When there is a crying baby in the room next to you. Then you’ll never see two adult humans move so quickly. I’ve learnt that wall heaters really don’t take that much ‘nip out of the air’ as you’d like to think and that I just used the word nip while not referring to nipple. Which in itself is a word I’ve said far too often in the past 10 days. And not in a positive way (is there a positive way to discuss nipples? Breasts maybe…). Because new parents can talk for ours about nipples. The answer to ‘how are things going?’ include a breakdown of how your nipples are feeling that day – even to unsuspecting non parents who probably wanted the answer ‘good/ok/well/fine’. Anything other than an update on my nipples.