So, the wait is over. If you, like Kate, have just had a baby, you’ll have made it through the tiring, fat-ankled, bladder-busting last months of pregnancy, got through the sheer agony of labour and are now out the other side with a lovely, little bundle of joy in your arms. But, hang on. What do you now? Where’s the manual? Where’s your in-built maternal instinct which tells you everything you need to know about babies? What the hell do you actually do with this (wonderful, gorgeous, slightly scrunched up) thing? Obviously, if you’re on baby number 2, 3, 4 or even more (wooahhh!) then you’re an old hand. You don’t need our advice. You should be writing books and setting up maternity-help shops yourself. But, if this is your first, then, read on, we might be able to help….
1) Think you know about babies? Think again. You know NOTHING. All that babysitting of your nieces and nephews, all that coo’ing over friends’ much-loved babies counts for zilch when you have your own at home. Admitting you know nothing is the best way to deal with the situation. Put your hands up and shout help. Sooner or later everyone does.
2) Sleep. At first it will be the baby keeping you awake through the night. And then, when the baby learns to sleep, it will be you keeping yourself awake through the night. Why isn’t he/she awake? Is he/she ok? Let me just get up and check (for the 50th time) to see if he/she is breathing. It’s exhausting.
3) Poo. Never had a long, in-depth and interesting conversation with your husband/boyfriend about poo before? Well, dive on in, this will be one of your favourite topics for quite some time. How many poos has Henry/Jack/Sophie had today? Why hasn’t Harper/North/Apple poo’d today? (Yup, Posh and Becks will have had this conversation too) How the hell does little baby manage to get poo ALL the way up their back? Yup. It’s surprising how much poo will become part of your life.
4) Your chat, like poo, will stink. Where once you may have been the life and soul of the party, the one everyone would make a beeline to because you’re so damn interesting, well now you’re not. You’re dull as dishwater. Your chat stinks. You can’t think of anything to talk about except feeding, sleeping and how god damn tired you are. Once again, don’t worry. This passes. You will get your life/personality/energy back.
5) Feeding aka The Great Milk Debate. Breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, do what you like and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing it. Ignore the Breastfeeding Nazis whose number one job seems to be to make new mothers feel even more bad about themselves and just do what works for you and your baby.
6) There’ll be highs. The first week on bringing your baby home is incredible – like a huge love bubble has exploded in the house. You’ll be tired, but euphoric and you’ll be amazed just how lovely, kind, generous all your friends and family are. Then there’s your baby’s first smile. His/her coos. When they start interacting with you. It’s awesome.
7) There’ll be lows. There’ll be tears (mainly yours). Peaking at around week 6, 7, 8. This is when you are so darned tired you could fall asleep standing up if you were given a chance. The novelty of feeding/nappy changing/burping has worn off and it’s all seeming a little relentless. You wonder if you’ll ever have a good night’s sleep again. You’ll wonder if you’ll ever have a grown up conversation again. You’ll wonder if you’ll ever get rid of your bump. You will. Don’t worry.
8) What to wear – the baby. Oh, this is a fun game. If you have a summer-born baby you’ll constantly be worrying that they’re too hot. Dressing and undressing them at your whim. If you have a winter-born baby you’ll constantly be worrying that they’re too cold. And, you guessed it, dressing and undressing them at your whim. It can go on for hours!
9) NCT. We’ve talked about NCT before. You will see more of your NCT group in the first few weeks of your baby’s life than your old friends. This is a given. You will, hopefully, have found some like-minded souls who feel just as lost as you. You will, hear every gruesome detail of their birth story (don’t know what a birth story is? You’ll soon find out) and know things about them biologically that you’d really rather they kept to themselves. You will, undoubtedly, also have met at least one new mother suffering from Competitive Baby Syndrome. If you thought it was all soft cuddly sisterhood when you have a baby, think again. Women suffering from Competitive Baby Syndrome will embark on a bizarre game of one-upmanship regarding sleep (little Sienna slept through the night at 4 weeks!), sex (we’ve been at it like rabbits since he was born!) and milestones such as crawling, walking and talking. Just ignore them. They’re lying. And if not, then they’re freaks of nature who are Not Like Everyone Else.
10) The First Night Out. Ooh the excitement. Ooh the nerves. Ooh the 101 phonecalls back to your mother who will undoubtedly be the one looking after the baby. Ooh the thrill of being out with real actual people. After Dark. In a bar. What once was familiar is a whole new world where everyone looks very glamorous, very young and very strange. All you can think about is your baby. All you can talk about to each other is your baby. But who cares? You’re out. With your boyfriend/husband, without your baby!
It’s a rollercoaster of a ride, but worth every minute. Just try and relax, don’t worry and enjoy it. You’ll probably feel overwhelmed at times, exhausted all the time. But, you’ll get through it. Don’t try and do everything yourself. Ask for help. Accept help. You’ll get through it. And remember, take lots of pictures! I still treasure the photos of my boys as newborns and despite having taken 1000 pics, I still wish I had more.