It is definitely a beautiful rite of passage to go through nine months of pregnancy, then culminating that experience with giving birth to hopefully a happy and healthy newborn. Nine months seems just enough time for you to prepare yourself into accepting that your whole world is about to change. Then all in bubs own time, they arrive and you literally overnight enter into a different world, an entirely new neighbourhood, a community of mums.
The only real experience I’d had with tiny babies prior to my own was a few days visiting my sister’s children. As soon as the baby would cry or do a stinker I would promptly hand my niece/nephew and all those larger responsibilities back to the parents. As soon as you have one of your own you realise there is no one to hand them back to, you are all on your own. I remember that first night in the maternity ward after giving birth when my partner had to leave and I looked at them and was like ‘wait, you can’t leave now, I don’t know what I’m doing ’. I cried off and on that first night with a mix of tiredness and achievement but also sheer and utter despair having to now care for a small person, a job that I had only skimmed the manual for. I pushed that ‘nurse assistance’ buzzer a lot that night because I needed some reassurance and I had so many questions.
- Why am I crying so much?
- Why is the baby crying so much?
- Is this the right way to hold a baby?
- Can you please help me get the baby to latch on?
- How often do I feed?
- How do I swaddle and get the baby to sleep?
The midwives where like angels and all I wanted to do was to take one home with me for about two months and have them help and share all their years of experience and knowledge. I had stepped into a time in my life where I wasn’t sure I belonged and I was welcomed (ready or not) instantly into the club where no introductions are necessary (there was an obvious ‘new mother’ stamp on my forehead). There were some days when I walked around the mum neighbourhood thinking ‘I’ve got this’, I made new friends and even combed my hair. Then there are the days when it’s all too hard and I do not want to leave the house, allowing my pyjamas to morph into daywear.
I’m here to tell you that this new neighbourhood will bring out the best in you and there is just as much learning for yourself as there is for your child. On days when you feel as though it is all too much, bear in mind that it takes time to adjust to new surroundings, to find your feet and feel comfortable in a new environment. So don’t be so hard on yourself and remember the sacred mothers pledge that we all took at the start of this journey… ‘18 years and I get my life back.’