A couple of weeks ago I asked around on Twitter and Instagram to see what worries and concerns other people had before becoming parents, and crumbs did they flood in. It's no surprise; I had enough myself in the last few weeks of pregnancy to feed the five thousand so it made sense other people had their own. And it also doesn't matter who you are; answers came in from pregnant mums panicking RIGHT NOW, grandmothers, 50 year old rugby fans, ex Olympian Matthew Pinsent... we've all been there, we've all done it, we've all worried.
So for any new mums or mums to be; take a seat, grab a drink & be safe in the knowledge you're not the only one panicking.
You can prepare for nearly everything these days. You can revise, plan, organise, the lot. Only, annoyingly, one of the things you can't prepare for is, oh... just one of the biggest moments of your life. And according to every passing stranger whose comments you didn't even bloody ask for; also the most painful. The worst thing you can do is panic; you will be able to handle it, and even if you can't, that's what all the drugs are for! It really helped me to (through gritted teeth) remind myself over and over again it was just one day out of my whole life. Time flies by in a weird, out of body, painful way anyway. It's a classic 'sounds worse than it is' scenario.
That the baby will arrive and you'll be thrown in the deep end
Yup. Welcome to the club. Books, advice and internet forums get you so far, we're all learning.
The sick and the nappies
Both will be a bit icky to start with if you're that sort of person, and then you'll find yourself becoming used to them. A year ago I was not the sort of person who'd be OK with getting poo flecks on my hand. Now I am the sort of person who probably wouldn't even notice I had poo flecks on my hand. Or face.
It's highly unlikely you'll drop your baby. The first couple of days you'll hold them timidly, like they're made of tissue paper. And then a week later you'll be lobbing them at visitors with one arm because now you've realised they're not slippery or covered in grease. Wait 'til you see how the doctor handles them post birth; they treat the baby like a rugby ball and you'll want to roundhouse them.
The noises they make
I struggled with this because I didn't realise (until I Googled it oh, I don't know, nineteen thousand times in two weeks?) that babies made noises. I thought they were a bit snuffly and cry-y, but I didn't know about the grunting, the gurgling, the snorts, none of it. So OBVIOUSLY I was terrified Milo had swallowed my spleen on the way out and had it lodged in his windpipe. Babies make noises guys. As long as you don't think it's a case of them wheezing or struggling to breathe (and you will be able to tell), all is fine.
Having a poorly baby is the pits. Seriously. Babies don't tend to breathe out their mouths for the first few months so a cold is the worst. thing. ever. And then if they've got the trots, that's terrible. And excessive sicks makes you wonder if you're going to drown in vomit. And then reflux is abysmal and you'll want to ring the NHS Hotline every 0.7 seconds or at least have a surgeon move in with you just in case. Try not to panic and just go with your gut. You always hear horror stories, but that's because they're horror stories. And they get better as quick as they get ill.
Lack of sleep
Eeeeeveryone talks about the lack of sleep, but I personally thought it was the easiest thing to get used to. Some days you'll feel like you've been dragged under a bus but this is ordinarily the same day your baby's being mega cute and then you'll forget how sleepy you are. You'll probably do things like care less if you look a bit crap, put letters in the fridge and find your glasses in the toaster. You'll say things that don't make sense and think back to the nights you kipped for 8 solid hours with amazement. Some babies sleep through the night pretty quickly and then some don't; who knows what you'll end up with. But your body has a marvellous way of coping and just don't beat yourself up if you fancy a nap. It's nothing to be worried about!
Being in charge of someone
I still sometimes find it odd when Milo wants me and only me if he's upset or tired; like his real mum's going to sweep in all motherly, pick him up and soothe him. Then I realise that's my job and it's lovely. Some days it's easy to just be in charge and other days you wonder when a real adult's going to turn up.
Is life affordable?
Everyone lives to their means and everyone financially struggles. Unless you're like, David Beckham, and even then you have to worry about that time you flunked the World Cup so each of us has our cross to bear. I was genuinely shocked by the cost of some of Milo's things and had we had less money I wouldn't have bought them. If you wait 'til you think you can afford babies, you'll be waiting for-ev-er.
The baby causing a scene in public
You grow a bit of a hard shell when you've had a baby and have a bit of a 'p*ss off' attitude. Yes admittedly, sometimes when your baby causes a scene it can make you get all flustered. Out of embarrassment or because you're tired or because you've just had enough that day, who knows. But you'll go home, maybe have a weep on the way, then laugh about it to yourself in bed that evening. Other times your little one will lose his sh*t and you'll just roll your eyes. All depends on your mood but certainly nothing to panic about.
Bonding/liking the baby
I was genuinely quite concerned about this. I LOVE babies, but I also like handing them back to their mums or dads. And the thing is, I liked my life with Greg; we were happy, we did lots of fun things... did I want someone around us for the next 18 years at least? It sounded manageable but would I sometimes just want the baby to bugger off? Turns out, no. You do really rather like them, and if anything, I love him more each day he's here annoying me than I did when he was born. If I'm totally honest, I didn't get a huge rush of adoration when Milo came out of me. I was knackered and sore and just wanted to be back to normal, but I felt a huge immediate need to protect him. It was only hour by hour that I fell in love with him; as he looked at me, as he cried, as he slept on me. I expected to love him Marlon Brando style the second he came out but the need to protect came far quicker.
Being a good mum/being motherly/looking motherly
It's not a competition. If your baby's happy and clean and safe (and actually, even not clean) then you're winning. For about a week you feel a little bit like people might be judging how you're doing, but they're really not. They're just lingering about because there's a cute baby in the air/they want to help. In no time at all you'll quietly panic about your decisions but openly breeze it, and try to have confidence in yourself! Not one single person fits the mum-mould. Even the women who look the most like they're winning at life have at some point wondered why their baby won't.stop.bloody.crying.
Or rather, not being able to do it. I'm sure it can be bloody crap when a baby doesn't latch on if you had it in your head you wanted to breastfeed but look... do you remember being bottle or breastfed? No. Neither will your child. It's rubbish not being able to do something you want to do, but becoming a mum can mean being open to things you'd rather not be open to. Breastfeeding is one small part of being a mum and nothing more.
I could honestly go on forever, there are so many things to panic about, but the most important thing to realise is we're all doing it together. Every day. We're all exhausted from winging it so if we can at least cut ourselves some slack and feel part of some crap parents' club then yay to that. Even our mums didn't know what they were doing and we're bloody marvellous.