We are now just over four weeks into being parents, and every day we are learning a little bit more about this new, exciting and utterly terrifying role. A big lesson for me has been to let go of my routines and accept that we are now on Florence-time (and I’m not talking trips to the Uffizi and aperitivo hour). I’m also ensuring that I remain humble in my role as a mother, because the moment I think I’ve got something down, or we seem to have a routine nailed, it immediately changes (and I suspect this is something that will continue to be the case for the next 40 years!).
This week I’ve been thinking about these lessons and what other tips I would give myself if I could travel back in time to my final weeks of pregnancy.
My list so far:
- Remember that accepting help isn’t the same as accepting defeat. This applies in so many areas. You can’t do everything and you won’t be the perfect mum, wife, friend and family member immediately/ever/all of the time. Let go of this idea of perfection now and remain open to help and advice.
- Don’t worry about trying to regulate feeds to begin with. They will start to regulate themselves in the coming weeks so to start with take your cues from Florence and feed her when she wants feeding. Be patient when feeds stretch out for an hour or more, or are demanded when you have visitors/want to eat a meal yourself/would rather be asleep, and remember that hunger, satiety and wind are all new feelings that she is learning to respond to.
- Sleep deprivation may mean 4 hours a night, but it may also mean 2 hours…in 30 minute chunks. Be mentally prepared for the bad nights and remember, good nights will follow.
- The sling will be both of your best friends. It will let you hold Florence close and make her feel safe and secure – remember she has been close to you for nine months and has never been alone before now – and it will also give you back your mobility and the use of arms!
- Keep in mind the you of the future – whether that means picking out both hers and your outfits the night before, expressing milk in the middle of the night, putting the washing machine and dishwasher on before bed, or preparing your packed lunch during her morning nap – ‘jobs time’ is at a premium so if you have time to do something, do it. You don’t know when the next window will come up and the you of the future will be infinitely grateful to the you of the past for this.
- Bobbi Brown will be your other best friend. You will look tired but you will feel infinitely better after a shower and with some concealer and mascara on. It’s ok to want to feel like yourself as well as feeling like a mum and a bit of makeup can help with this.
- Keep water and snacks to hand – breastfeeding creates a thirst like no other, so make sure you have a full water bottle within reach at all times, and I mean literally within reach, as there is nothing worse than getting into a comfortable breastfeeding position then realising you can see your water bottle but can’t quite get hold of it! Likewise with snacks. Other people may ‘forget to eat’. You have never forgotten to eat and won’t start now. As you watch the time tick away while stuck to the sofa breastfeeding you will just get increasingly hangry if you don’t have a snack to hand. You have been warned!
- Remove all of the things that you don’t need from your surfaces. When you are juggling a breast pump, Haakka pump and bottle of water while breastfeeding the last thing you want it a load of ornaments/books/papers in the way on your coffee table.
- Remember that babies cry, especially in the evening. Change, feed and burp her and hold her close; she likes movement, shushing noises and being cuddled. When the crying wont stop, remind yourself that at the moment crying is her only form of communication and her only means of telling you something is wrong.
- Enjoy how tiny she is, because she is growing fast and will never be this small again. Spend all of the time you can looking at her little face, hands, feet and chubby little legs. Kiss her a hundred times a day and remember that even when it’s really hard and you are so tired and depleted from the lack of sleep and all of the feeding, she is your beautiful little girl, that you wanted her more than anything in the world, and for every tough moment there will be hundreds of wonderful ones.