Having a baby is a massive decision for anyone, but for first time parents? THE biggest overhaul life will ever take.
With constant pressure to keep up with those parents who are breezing through it getting everything perfectly right, combined with Mother Nature’s blessing in disguise that makes us mothers settle for no less than perfect, and the standards are set high.
Now throw in the fact that, for baby #1 at least, we don’t have a fricken’ clue what we’re doing, inevitably we’re going to end up in a whirl of combined panic, anxiety and over protection, not to mention overspending, while trying to produce the next ‘happiest, healthiest, smartest child ever’.
I’m the eldest of eight kids (yes, 8), the youngest being 16 years my junior, so I KNOW what babies involve. On a knowledge level, I was fully equipped to keep a baby alive, so if I fell prey to this new Mum neuroticism then I can only begin to imagine what less experienced parents must feel.
One day someone WILL write that elusive handbook on how to be a parent (in the real-world sense). Until then, here’s some of the daft things I did as a first-time parent that, in hindsight, didn’t make life any easier whatsoever.
Listened to Classical music while pregnant.
Apparently this develops baby’s brain, improving chances of emotional wellbeing and high intelligence. My Eminem DVD’s were banned. No swear words in the house from now on.
Went to pregnancy Pilates and swimming lessons.
Because we will be a healthier, calmer mother to be and have short, easy, pain-free labours. Oh, the naivety.
Worried that every niggle, twinge and unfamiliar sensation was a medical emergency.
By #2 we’re just so grateful if we got through a day without vomiting.
Bought a top and tail bowl.
I still don’t know what this is for?
Bought hundreds of pounds worth of baby phonics DVD’s, books and matching word cards set.
These never saw the light of day with #2 (because I would just put on whatever kept #1, now a toddler, happy, for some peace). For the record, child #2 is the best reader in her class. #1 is on the ‘extra help’ list.
We kept charts of every feed.
Which boob, how long, what time (start and end), or ml of bottle milk. But we panicked because every time they threw up (which was often), we couldn’t measure it, so lost track of exactly what they’ve ingested.
At the other end (sorry), poo is no longer a taboo subject, but an important health marker.
How many times today? Too hard or soft? Colour?
Theirs not ours (nothing to monitor for us, no sleep here…). How long? What time? Nap duration? How quickly did they fall asleep? When should they stop napping? Why didn’t they nap today? Oh God I need a nap!
The red book has spoken. Your child is not growing ‘averagely’. They are far too big/small/fat/thin/tall/have big feet / hands are too small in relation to their forearms…..
The conflict between strong enough anti-bacterials and minimal chemicals is real. And once crawling starts, we wipe the floor with anti-bacterial wipes when in public spaces, just in case.
Anything non-organic is now poison.
Never mind we haven’t really bought organic food in the past. From now on it’s organic even if we have to re-mortgage the house.