20 Things I’ve Learnt in 20 Weeks
1. Being off work on maternity isn’t as fun as it seems. I’ve been off work now for nine months due to a mixture of maternity and sick leave and it isn’t all it is pictured. Hands up who thought they would spend their time swanning around the shops, sitting in Costa drinking coffee, walking baby around the park and generally having lots of free time to do whatever you wanted. The reality is that you are very lucky if you manage to put on some make up and leave the house on any given day. You have hardly any money because you are on a reduced income so shopping and expensive coffees are treats you save for the weekend when your husband is around. I cannot tell you anything considerable I have achieved in the past 20 weeks when I’ve been home alone with the baby. The days drag and the weeks fly by. Every week I think, right I must do something of note with baby this week, but then the weather is horrible or we have a bad nights sleep or we are tired from visitors or the baby is teething so you daren’t leave the house….the list goes on! Some days I wish I was back in work so I can have some adult conversation but then I berate myself for wishing this precious time away.
2. Your body bounces back very quickly from pregnancy and birth. I had an irrational fear that my body would never be the same again and it was the end for me and my love affair with bikinis. Ok, so I do have some stretch marks that are not going to go anywhere anytime soon but who actually cares? I ate a few too many chocolate chip muffins, dairy milk bars and red grapes during pregnancy which meant I have had to work a little bit harder to shift those extra lbs but my fear of ending up with a saggy puffed out belly button have been unfounded, I suppose I shouldn’t have spent so much time googling post pregnancy bodies in the last few weeks of pregnancy! Your body heals very quickly as well, despite the lack of sleep. The tears will heal and the stretch marks will fade eventually. It’s all so completely worth it.
3. To the midwife who told me I would never sleep again- you were wrong. What a despicable thing to say to a new mother of a three day old baby. ‘Sorry but you never sleep again, I haven’t slept in XX number of years‘. Of course you will sleep again. Even when baby starts sleeping through those first few weeks you still wake automatically to check they are still breathing but eventually you stop waking for every stretch and moan baby makes (and I sleep next to my baby) Just last night, I slept from 11pm until 6am and then again once I fed the baby until 10am. I must be catching up from those early days of no sleep!
4. Fed is best. I couldn’t give a crap how you feed your baby and when my friends tell me they’ve had dirty looks or worse from people for the way they feed their baby (breast and bottle!) it seriously infuriates me! Why on earth it is anybody’s business how you feed your baby is beyond me. Keep doing what you are doing and ignore the haters.
5. You do not want to eat in the weeks following birth. I had to force feed myself in the first few weeks, had no desire to eat whatsoever and a lot of my friends said the same. It’s so important to keep your body full of good food though, especially if you are breastfeeding and even more so because of lack of sleep. I guess your appetite plummets because your body has stored so much fat over the previous few weeks and this is a clever way for it to reduce those fat stores if you are not breastfeeding. Normal appetite does eventually resume but I haven’t been able to touch my pregnancy craving foods – muffins and grapes.
6. You will take more pictures than you have ever taken in your life put together. I have taken close to 6000 photos in 20 weeks. I urge you to download FlickR onto your phone so you can store these millions of photos for free and save space on your phone. I only found out about it at ten weeks and before that I was deleting photos left, right and centre. Also, it doesn’t matter how many photos you take, just keep taking them, you need them for when the baby is sleeping. Amiright? Who else just sits and looks through photos and videos when the babe is sleeping?
7. Seeing baby developing hits you with feelings of pride and sadness literally making sense of the phrase all the feels. You feel so proud that your baby can do these amazing things but then feel so sad that baby is growing up and won’t be your baby forever. It’s a real mix of emotions. That coupled with raging hormones can make for a lot of tears! Watch out husbands.
8. You’ve got to work with your husband in order to make it work. When you work as part of a team it makes looking after baby so much easier. You have got to support each other and make time for yourselves as well. We always have Friday night as our time and we order a take away and watch a box set. I know I could get angry at the multitude of things he does that annoys me (dirty socks, leaving nappies lying around, spending FAR too much time on his bike) but I have to just go with the flow because these tiny things can build up inside you until you explode. It’s hard for the dad to go out to work every day and leave the baby and I respect that. He lets me have time away from the baby by doing bedtime and Saturday afternoons and I do everything else. It’s only fair because he has to go to work everyday and work really hard to support us.
9. There is no ‘best’ way to parent, only your way. I hate people telling me how to parent my child and likewise I would never give advice to other mums unless, of course they asked for it. What works for your baby might not work for mine and vice versa. I have my opinions about certain topics and methods and I am not afraid to say them, but I’d never bash another mum for doing it a different way. See lesson four: fed is best.
10. Teething hurts like hell. I have never seen such a change in my baby than I did when he was suffering really badly with teething last weekend. We’d had the dribbling and the hand sucking for a long time and people had told me he was teething but that was nothing compared to what I saw last week. He was screaming in pain, had his tongue half out of his mouth rubbing his gums and he dribbled even more, if that’s remotely possible. It was horrible seeing him in so much pain, so of course I bought every product under the sun to help him. Teething gel is great and so are the powders. It will get better, then bad again and then better.
11. Buying baby clothes is addictive and expensive and may be more dangerous than online gambling. Okay, so I am joking a little but seriously have you seen all the cute baby clothes? It’s very dangerous that you have to restock the wardrobe every three months and most of my maternity pay goes on dressing my child in the cutest outfits. I was looking for 6-9 month clothes and saw D didn’t have many pants so I went on eBay and out shopping around town and online. One week later D now owns 17 pairs of pants in that particular size. Oops.
12. Whoever said you can tell what a baby needs from his cry is lying. 20 weeks in and I still can’t tell if it’s a cry for food, boredom or tiredness. The only way I can decipher it is by looking at the clock and seeing when he last fed/slept/how long he’s been looking at that particular toy. The clock has also become an obsession. When my Mum came round to visit she asked me if she should leave because I kept clock watching. How embarrassing. I am literally obsessed with knowing what time it is. Maybe that’s why the days drag?
13. Things don’t always work out the way you planned and that’s okay. I planned to breastfeed and was adamant I wouldn’t touch formula but it didn’t work out that way. I said I would spend my days speaking French to my baby, but we are lucky if we read one French book a week. I said I would exercise every evening once husband was home from work. Ha! You do what you gotta do to survive and sometimes that means having a bar of galaxy as a snack (the big one) and rocking your baby to sleep just so you can get your own zzzzs.
14. You don’t need alcohol to survive. The only thing that used to get me through a stressful day was the thought of a glass of wine at the end of it. Now, my reward at the end of the day is an hour of peace while I watch Code Black or go on Twitter. I haven’t drank since I became pregnant and I don’t know how I’d be able to cope with a hangover if I did have a drink. So for now, I am staying sober. It’s saving me money and good for my health.
15. The sizes on baby clothes is different depending on what it is and where it is from. He has things in 3/6 that are way too small and things in 0/3 that still fit perfectly. It drives my OCD wild that I have a mixture of 0/3,3/6 and 6/9in the wardrobe all at one time but no way am I packing away that cute 0/3 vest when it still fits like a dream!
16. Baby will sleep anywhere when you don’t need him to but when you need him to nap, the slightest noise wakes him up. He has slept through the Hoover blasting away and has snoozed in the loudest Costa ever but when I really need him to go down for at least five minutes because I need to stop, the tiniest creak of the mattress next to him will rouse him. Argh! When I want to sit and watch two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy in a row he wakes up after 40 minutes, when we need to go out he sleeps for three hours. Hmph.
17. Every single person ever will ask you.. is your baby good? I’ve touched on this in a previous post- this questions drives me a little bit insane. I usually end up replying, yes very good. But what the hell does it mean? Who would ever say, oh gosh no, he’s really bad!? I think it’s best to refrain from asking any questions regarding the sleep, feeding and general goodness of a baby. It only winds Mum up.
18. There is nothing more infuriating than your baby ignoring you all day and then giving all the smiles and laughs to daddy when he comes home. Yes, this often happens with my baby. I think he gets bored of looking at my face all day, who wouldn’t in all honesty? I read they grow out of it, I hope so!
19. Half the stuff you buy when pregnant is completely redundant. Newborn clothes that have never been worn. Baby bath used only a few times. Breast pads untouched. I was lucky that I was gifted so many things and I plan to have another so hopefully things will get used next time. Check out my post about newborn essentials to give you an idea on what is really needed.
20. You can no longer remember life before baby. What did I actually do with my days? I wasted a lot of time that’s for sure. I’m so happy he is here and can’t wait to see what the next 20 weeks bring and what I will learn.