We had a lovely day. She had a little birthday party last week with both our families and then today we headed off for a family day in the zoo where I could watch her amazing reactions at the different animals and still think of how I felt as I lay in the hospital bed amazed that we had made this little tiny human. Then she start to whinge like nobody's business and the magic was gone - isn't that always the way with children?!!
So, with all that in mind, I have also been thinking about everything I have learned in the last year and the things I wish someone would have told me before I had a baby...
- You will not automatically feel like yourself after having the baby. As much as you can't wait to be your 'old self', it's not going to happen for a long long long long long time. I wish I had have known that and not put myself under pressure to look like my old self and act like my old self before my body and mind was ready.
- The first couple of weeks are the hardest. It took 10 weeks to get herself into a routine. Before that it was mayhem.
- New babies need to cry for four hours a day. You may be lucky and get a considerate tiny human that will break those four hours up over the day. We were not. In the early days she did some crying but saved up the majority of her four hours for 6pm. Then she would open her mouth, take a big deep breath and wail until 10pm. And when you don't know, you feed her. And then she does the grandest impression of the exorcist and you and your partner throw daggers at each other because you need to blame someone.
- You feel like you will never forget the bad patch your in. But you do. Until the next time your in it and think, 'eh, what did we do the last time'. Then you remember when it all calms down that these patches are about a three week cycle. But you forget that as well, until the end of the next one.
- You know when they say it is clever to stock up on the baby essentials while pregnant? Things like nappies for the different stages, sudo cream and wipes etc. Well, throw boxes and boxes and boxes of Fairy washing powder on your essential list. Why? Because no one ever ever warns you about the washing. In 12 months I have never seen the bottom of my wash basket. Ever. I mean I am pretty sure my lovely top that has mysteriously vanished is at the bottom of that basket being used by some micro-organisims as a colony from which they are planning to take over the world... Gross, I know.
- Pooh becomes an acceptable thing for you to discuss. I remember working with a girl and every time we sat down to lunch she would go into great details about the contents of her childrens nappies. It would put me right off whatever I was about to sink my teeth into and I would get hangry (hunger induced anger) and hate her. Apparently, she isn't a weirdo. It is what mothers do. At least this mother has the decency not to discuss it over lunch...
- You may never fit into your old shoes again... It is twelve months on and I still don't fit into all my lovely size 4 shoes. I look at my pretty shoes that I used to love and I grieve their loss.
- When you are told "oh my baby slept through the night from (some ridiculously young age)", ask them the qualify that. Ask them how many nights. I bet you anything they didn't sleep seven nights a week. This question will stop you feeling inadequate and googling the life out of sleep training.
- No one talks about the difficult recovery side of child birth. Like how I felt like I had been turned inside out and scrubbed with a scour brush. No one told me that would happen. Also, no one told me how delicate my "down theres" would feel afterwards. I remember walking through a shopping center and actually thinking everything was going to fall off onto the floor and I would have to scoop it all up and have it reattached. I nearly wanted to walk about with a cooler with me, in case it did fall off and I had to treat it like a chopped off finger and fling it on a bit of ice to keep it from going bad so it could be reattached.
- Ask for help. All kinds of help. Allow people to sit with you when things are new and just be there when your doing what you have to do. It makes you feel so much better. I had my mum, my mother in law and my best friend on speed dial for weeks. I would ring them about EVERYTHING and sometimes I would just ring and sob incoherently down the phone and say thanks at the end of the call. Even though they didn't understand I single thing I said!
- You will never know a love like it. It changes everything.
- It's ok to be happy to leave them. A break is good for you and good for the baby. Don't feel guilty if you don't fell guilty when you leave them!
- Get bibs... lots and lots and lots of bibs. Millions of them.
- The clocks changing ruin your life.
- Finally, have the words "This Too Shall Pass" displayed somewhere you will see them daily. I was contemplating a tattoo on my forehead but your not always guaranteed to look in a mirror every day and if you happen to have the baby in your arms at the time you do look in the mirror you will not look at yourself. I can promise you that forever more, when your child is in that mirror, that's what you look at. Which is good because then you don't have to add panic about your caterpillar-esque eyebrows that are starting to blow in the wind to your list of things that need to be done! So may!be put them on the kettle or something
So I am now sitting happily in my front room, delighted that we made it through the first year, marveling at how quick that year was and, as I finish my glass of vino, panicking slightly that when I wake up in the morning she will be sixteen and looking for a belly button ring...