This is a recent experiment, one that was suggested to me as a writing prompt for university. It is the first of, what I’m hoping will be, a series of advice based letters to future mamas (and daddy’s). Others will be more age or topic specific, including being a mama with Epilepsy. I hope you like it, and please give plenty of feedback :).
** Second Edit **
Dear future Mamas,
Where do I start? We all know parenting isn’t very easy and yet, we still want to do it. We all want that opportunity to grow and mould a young life. Parenting is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs and sudden twists along the way, but before you know it, that stage is over and you’re having to move on to a whole new ride.
They say, pregnancy is the easiest part of it all. I disagree. I strongly believe the easiest part, will be when they have grown up and moved out. I mean, how is morning sickness, exhaustion, swelling, labour and having to be patient for 9 whole months easy? Some love being pregnant, others, hate it! I know I didn’t feel either way with my first, but with my second, it was definitely the latter. But that’s ok, it will prepare you for the rest of your life, and all that rubbish. It certainly prepared me to never sleep again, and to have an evil and cheeky child outside the womb as well as in.
Now, I’m not trying to put you off, in fact my fingers and toes are crossed for you, but, I do believe it is a good idea to learn about all the negatives as well as the positives. For instance, F (my beautiful 4-month-old daughter) has the most gorgeous smile and it truly does melt my heart, but she is also the spawn of Satan and can make more noise than an air horn at the click of a finger. There is zero build up, it its literally all chats and smiles one second and tears and banshee screams the next. Sometimes, when you want something with all your heart, you shut out the reality of it. You forget that, although you will have a small giggling, loving bundle of joy, it comes as a package. It also involves all the poo-namis, the restless nights and the constant worry. By constant, I don’t actually mean forever, you soon realise they are much more resilient than you are. When O (my, now, three-year-old son) was around eight months old, he had mastered the art of standing in his cot. Well safe to say, this didn’t go well. One night, shortly after his mind-blowing discovery he took his first tumble over the bar, head first between the cot and the storage unit beside it. I’ll never forget his sudden, heart wrenching crying that set me off into a blubbering mess and feeling like the worst mum in the world. I think he cried for all of two minuets before he laughed and carried on with life, whereas I cried for around two hours. He’s been referred to as a cheeky little shit ever since.
I can’t comment on parenting as a whole, everyone deals with it differently. There are many parenting techniques out there and there is no right or wrong one for every mama. Just as we are individuals, so are our children and it’s about finding the correct balance in it all, for your family. I’m happy to help you and support you, even I need it from other mamas that have already experienced the adventures I’m currently going through. Yes, I’m a mum of two, already, at the age of 22, but I’m still learning and finding curve balls. O is only three and is still developing his speech and still isn’t fully potty trained (twat), in fact, the other weekend he managed to go through all five spare sets of trousers and pants I took to soft play with me, in an hour! A fricking hour! Who even pees that much? We ended up going home in his friends spares, yet he will last all day in creche without a single dribble. I was not an amused mum. Anyway, just remember, you are never alone in this journey. You won’t be the first to worry or to make mistakes or even the first to openly call your child all the names under the sun. I swear, those mums that have never called their kid an arsehole, are liars.
Having a baby is a big step in life, whether it be accidental or planned, there is a lot that needs to be done in preparation. You have to think to yourself, are you ready? One of the main things I’ve done during the pregnancy, both times, is make lists and lists of things. From name ideas, to things I need to buy, right up to the hospital bag. You may be reading this wondering, why I had to do it twice? I’ve had a baby before. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been through the process before, whether you’ve already ‘been there, done that, got the T-shirt’ you will always forget something! Unless you literally got a T-shirt and wrote it all down on there. During my pregnancy with F, an advert come on about baby milk and I suddenly thought to myself, I’m going to have a tiny life that depends solely on me again soon. My boy may only be three, but he’s independent and has his own big personality, heck, he thinks he’s the boss of the house. I no longer have to feed him, wind him, be his legs (actually, this one’s debatable. For a kid who’s full of energy he can be right little lazy shit when he wants to be), and it won’t be long until I no longer have to change him, hold his hand to cross the road, or cuddle him when he gets an Ouchy. I’m already at the stage where he has to pre-approve any new clothes and he wants to choose his outfit for the day. Independence is great, but sometimes he chooses clothes that could not clash any more than they do. Make the most of the lists, of the cuddles and the ability to do those small, sometimes disgusting or annoying things, seriously, because in a blink of an eye, you’re no longer needed. Not that I will complain too much when I no longer have to wipe bogeys from his nose and half way up his face.
When you are pregnant, and even when baby arrives, you will constantly be offered advice from everyone, wanted or not. I’m going to join in, but not in the same way. Firstly, you will constantly get, ‘breast is best’ fed down your throat. No! Fed is best. Don’t let people, medical or otherwise make you feel pressurised into doing something you either feel uncomfortable doing, or are unable to do, due to medical reasons or personal. Despite my doubts, I attempted to breast feed O but he wouldn’t latch and I wasn’t able to get him to learn properly even with two overnight stays in the hospital dedicated to helping. In the end I gave up and turned to the bottle, so I knew my son was getting food. I tried again with F and she ended up with jaundice, luckily it wasn’t bad enough for the lights, but I knew not to push it. Bottles it was again, so long as my baby was healthy.
Secondly, milestones! Again with the pressure, don’t let the ‘official’ milestone terms make you feel like you are doing something wrong, or that your beautiful little baby is falling behind. Just like us, as adults, sometimes learning can take a while. Sometimes we don’t pick it up straight away or we just aren’t as good as others around us. That doesn’t mean we won’t get there or that we won’t learn. If you are worried then obviously check with a professional as there could be underlying issues, but most the time, quite honestly, the little gremlins are just being bone idle. O didn’t walk until he was one and a half and didn’t talk until around two and a bit, and like I said earlier, he still wont pee on a potty every time. He’d rather have warm pants apparently (you should seriously see my eye rolls as I’m writing this for you.) but, I know he will get there eventually. They will do things in their own time, from sitting, walking and talking. Heck, some skip the crawling stage and go straight into a full-blown run.
Lastly, just trust your gut. I bet you’ve heard that one already, but honestly, that little maternal instinct that resides inside you is the best mama strategy there is. Always, do what you feel is the right thing to do, even if you feel silly, or like you are over reacting. Trust yourselves. No one will ever judge you for checking or airing on the side of caution, most first-time parents worry over every little thing. Just always remember the first and most important thing,
You’ve got this.
Your fellow Mama Bear.