I did it! I have officially survived the first year of being a Mummy. My beautiful baby boy is ONE! The saying “the days go slow but the years go fast” is actually so spot on. Some days it’s only 9am and it feels like it should be 2pm but then you’re baby turns one and you wonder where all those months went.
When I was pregnant I thought I had a pretty good idea on how babies work, you know the typical eat, sleep, poop stuff but it’s way more complex than that and I don’t think anyone can really prepare for motherhood completely. It’s kind of a learn on the job position that challenges us physically, emotionally and mentally. The first year of motherhood for me has caused exhaustion, frustration and anxiety however above all this it’s provoked infectious joy, incredible love and unbelievable gratification.
I am by no means saying I’m an expert, I have only got through the first year but I thought why not pass on some of the knowledge I have gained in the first 12 months of having my son…
1. It’s okay to say no
Your body grows an actual human then squeezes it out. It’s okay to be an emotionally exhausted mess, take your time to get through it. You will find your new ‘normal’ in no time. If you are having a day where you just can’t stop crying or feel like you could just snap at the click of a finger and someone wants to come and see your baby and you really just don’t want them to, just say no. Too many times I forced myself to put on a brave face and then cried my eyes out when they left.
2. Breastfeeding is not easy at the start.
I went through mastitis twice and it took me 8 weeks for it not to feel like someone was slicing my nipples open, but here we are nearly 13 months down the track and going strong. He is down to only 1 feed a day now (and some night feeds if he won’t sleep) so I am cherishing our last feeds together. If you want to breastfeed; don’t give up if it hurts. Seek help from lactation consultants and keep trying, it gets so much easier! For me it turned from hell to the most beautiful bonding experience.
3. Be kind to your new mum bod
It takes a good amount of time for your uterus to shrink back to its normal size and for all your organs to find their normal place again. You will be squishy but just embrace it! You just grew a little miracle inside of you, how amazing!
4. You are able to survive on minimal sleep
Some nights I got (still get) a whole 3 hours sleep (broken up). It takes some adjusting at the start but your body will find this as your new normal and you will survive. I suggest stocking up on coffee! I hated coffee before having my son but now I’m a 2 cups of coffee a day kinda ‘gal.
5. Listen to your instincts
You are the only one who knows your baby better than anyone else. If you really feel like something is not right get it checked. If you still feel like the diagnosis is wrong find a second opinion.
6. Listen gracefully to advice, but you don’t have to take it on board
Every man and his dog will give you their little golden piece of advice, some of it may even come across as judgement. I use to get so worked up about what was the right thing to do and then if I didn’t like what they said I would get annoyed. If the advise you’re given is appealing to you, give it a go but if it causes you more stress just do what is the least stressful for your circumstance.
7. Do what YOU want when the baby sleeps
12. I personally feel so stressed if I don’t get any house work done so this usually gets done when my son is asleep. However if I’m super tired I might have a nap, if I just want some me time I might pop my feet up, watch an episode of a show and do nothing. You are the boss of what you do, don’t feel pressured to “sleep when the baby sleeps”.
8. Take some time out for yourself
If you don’t take time out for yourself you may burn out. Obviously the new title of Mum means you won’t have the option to just pop out to get your hair done for 3 hours (without strategic babysitting planning) or going to the gym for 2 hours a day. But little things like having a long shower with music blasting or having a friend around at night to watch soppy love movies and eat loads of chocolate with you does the trick. If you have a partner or family/friends around, ask them to watch your son/daughter for half an hour while you go grab a coffee and chill out. I’m sure they will love the cuddles and you are only ever a phone call away. On those days where I just felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere and my son just wouldn’t stop crying, I would take him out to someones house and he always flips a switch and is the happiest baby. They like to keep the meltdowns for their Mum and Dad I have found, so get out and about and share the love on those off days.
9. Don’t get use to anything, it will all change tomorrow
My son actually slept magically as a newborn, I would have to wake him for his feeds. I thought wow! I have such a great sleeper. HAHAHA little did I know that in just a month he would begin to wake every 40 minutes. That’s just one thing, then there’s teething, eating, pooping, fevers, growth spurts, immunisations and so much more. One thing I have learnt is to take one day at a time and dress your baby in those special going out clothes even if they are just at home because they probably won’t fit next week!
10. Take all the snuggles, pictures and videos you can.
Okay, so all the baby books might say to teach your baby to self soothe and go to sleep in the cot but If it doesn’t work, don’t stress. Why not cuddle/sing/rock/ feed him/her to sleep? They are only little once! I have never heard anyone say “I wish I didn’t cuddle my kid so much”. Seriously I’m sure you won’t create a weirdo adult child who has to curl up in a ball on your lap while you stroke his hair and sing “soft kitty” for him to go to sleep.
Last of make sure to take a picture a day and get heaps of video footage. It’s amazing how much your baby grows and learns in the first year of life. I’m bit of a photo maniac but I’m so glad I am because now I have all these wonderful memories for life.