Amy Hennessey tells us the top three things she wished she’d known as a new mum
I love my son more than anything etc etc, but having a baby is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, by far. I mean, let's step past the whole shooting a watermelon out of a place no watermelon should pass. You introduce your fruit to the world in your own way with your own story - some people have to use 'cutlery', others give it a wash in a pool first - and move on. Then suddenly everything has changed and now not only are you responsible for keeping this tiny fruit cup alive (I've taken the watermelon thing as far as it can go now, right?) but you're bombarded with a rich (fruit?) cocktail of horrific hormones and sleep deprivation. And it hurts to sit down.
For the first few weeks I cried. At. Everything. My (incredibly supportive) husband made the mistake day 7 in hospital of asking 'why are you crying, my love' (or something less twee no doubt) to only get sobs of 'SOMEONE WAS NICE TO ME!' When I was pregnant I cried because I didn't want to eat a Big Mac. They call it the Baby Blues but 'they' are dicks. You're not 'blue'; you're fucking exhausted and consumed with worry.
To be opaque, my own personal worry got a little out of control and then I began to worry about my worry. The lovely folk at Steps 2 Wellbeing sent me on a CBT course to check myself before I wrecked myself and I'm feeling much better. So here's some things I wish someone had told me.
1) The word 'Should' needs to go do one
There are so many things you feel like you 'should' be able to do/know/feel. Changing nappies should be easy - I have a degree and a half decent job, so I should be able to do this first time, right? Wrong. It's a skill to be learnt (such as keeping a towel nearby to slap on your over exuberant baby boy who just loves to piss in your face). I should instantly be able to comfort my baby - am I a bad mother if I can't? No. You're both getting to know each other and what you need. I should be able to do at least one bit of housework each day - I once had to re-wash my washing because I'd left it in the machine for days. Don't sweat it. Cuddle your baby*
2) No one is coping
Your mum friends might seem like they are doing great but THEY ARE NOT. It's just no one likes to talk about it as they feel they should be coping. Peel back the Instagram filter and they too haven't washed their hair in a week, went out with their flies undone and they've got urine on their jumper too. If they are smug about how well they are coping (they're lying), you don't need that shit in your life. Talk more to the friends with puke on their trousers. They are the ones to offer the sympathy when you most need it.
3) Guilty, your honour
You will feel guilty about everything, and from what my more experienced mum friends tell me, this ain't going away. Ever. Get used to feeling like the human version of what's in your baby's nappy. But maybe try occasionally to listen to those around you when they tell you you're doing a good job. And when your baby first giggles at you part of it will chip away and you might even believe it. For a second.
So next time one of your friends pops out a watermelon, don't ask how she's sleeping (the answer is always badly) or just how the baby is. Make them a cuppa, do their washing up (don't ask what you can do as most will say they don't need help to keep up the ruse that they are coping) and ask how they are.
*This blog is bought to you while cuddling my four month old after his injections. Previous me would be looking at the washing up and thinking 'man I've done NOTHING today'. Now I know I've done the most important thing of all. Sod the cutlery.