Friday, 30 May 2014

12 Questions Every New Mum Asks Herself

Books, antenatal classes, tv-programmes, relatives, friends, strangers...all ready to help and prepare you for what it will be like, when you are finally holding your baby. 9 months is a really long time, but it passes so fast, and by the time you manage to sort everything for the arrival of the little one, he is already lying in his moses basket. 

I started preparing by reading the popular pregnancy literature, but as the time went by, I was getting bored by the long chapters and many details. In the final weeks of the countdown, I just wished there was a manual, a simple guide (preferably with pictures) explaining step by step what to do with the baby once he arrives (how does that sound, right?) Well, the closest I found was a book with more pictures and less explanations (hurray!), but wait, seriously? The truth was the book gave me a general understanding of what to expect, yet no book can really teach you how to look after your own child, only your natural instincts can. 

Looking 5 months in retrospection, going through all those books was me trying to be prepared. Still, the books couldn't give me all of the answers I was looking for, only the experience could. And it wasn't until I was holding the little one, when things slowly started to make sense. That's why I made this "small" list of questions which I think we all ask ourselves at the very beginning of our motherhood journey. 

                                                     What To Expect When You're Expecting

1. What do I do with the baby once all of the visitors leave?
Right it's you and your baby, no hospital staff around, no more visitors, your partner is probably trying to do the housework while you are "resting" with a baby in your hands. He is either sleeping or eating, maybe crying? Well, congratulations, this is pretty much everything on your list for the next days/ weeks/ as long as it takes - for you and your baby. Even though, the baby is no longer in the womb, he still needs his mother 24/7 - feeding, changing, sleeping, soothing and again from the beginning. After a few days of repeating these activities, things pretty much become clear. It's an everyday challenge, learning all those new things, but it is also your bonding time, one of the most magical and memorable experiences! Enjoy till it lasts!
  -> Conclusion: Learn as you go! 

2. How do I meet other mums like me?
One very sensitive topic and a challenge for many mums (including me) was finding other new mums and making friends. Luckily there are plenty of baby/children play groups and classes and it's up to us to join them. I am very thankful to our health visitor who encouraged me to join a baby class "Baby Essentials" (You can read the post about: Our first baby class) when Alex was around a month old. Even though I was still very tired and recovering from the C-section, I really couldn't wait to meet other mums. As the saying goes: "The shared joy is double joy and shared pain is half the pain." 
-> Conclusion: Find your local groups and classes and join as soon as you can! 

3. When will I meet mums at groups that actually talk to me?
Ok, you have joined the group, well done! How do you make a conversation now? As much excited as I was to go to our first baby class "Baby Essentials", I was also very nervous. I was meeting other mums for the first time, I was one of the youngest in the group and also not a native speaker, 3 reasons which prevented me to feel confident, relaxed and approachable. And it kept this way for the rest of the course (4 weeks). We were having short chats, but it wasn't going any further, we all kept a distance. Was I in a hurry? However, everything changed after the end of this class, when I kept on trying different groups and slowly... it worked! Attending library sessions and open groups, helped me to meet more mums and to start making some actual friends. 
-> Conclusion: Don't give up, keep trying until you find a group where you feel comfortable and mums with who you can break the ice! 

4. When the baby will sleep through?
I am still looking for an answer to this question...Alex is almost 5 months old, but he doesn't sleep through, even though some baby books suggest he should! He wakes up, up to 4 times a night just for a feed! No matter how much he drinks before bed he will still wake up at his usual times. Our health visitor says that every baby is individual and I believe her. So we will just keep "listening" to his needs until, well maybe until it comes the time when it will be hard to get him out of bed! 
-> Conclusion: Remain to be seen.

5. When to stop breastfeeding?
Here I can speak from the position of a mum who has breastfed for a short period of time, just under a month after Alex was born. It was a really hard decision and all of us went through a lot of pain and tears before I finally decided to give a go to the formula. A few months later, thankfully there is no trace from the guilt or stress I was feeling back at the time. Breastfeeding happen to be another challenge I was absolutely unprepared for, but I am happy that Alex had the breast milk I could provide for him and even though it didn't lasted for 6 months (as I was initially planning to feed him for), we got through this difficult stage and we are much happier now! 
-> Conclusion: It depends on mother and baby, but there isn't a wrong time to start formula, as long as everyone is happy!

6. When you don't have a clue what to do with your baby?
I currently started experiencing this phase of not knowing what to do to entertain him! Alex is not napping as much as he used to during the day, he doesn't enjoy lying in his bouncy chair like he used to, which only means he is looking for more attention, constant attention! Playing with a baby who is still not sitting up and not interested in many toys can be tricky, so we just go out as much as we can. It's good for him, it's good for me and as long as it's not raining.. Actually, even the rain can't stop us these days! 
-> Conclusion: Go on a stroll, if you can get another mum with you, even better!  

7. Am I doing it right?
I was asking myself this question a lot during the first months, especially when we were out and about. When it was time for feeding or changing, and there were other people around, I was feeling very insecure, questioning myself if I am "handling" my baby the right way. I don't feel this way anymore, because after some practice and time bonding with him, I realized that every mum knows best and even if we experience some difficulties on the way, it's all part of the "learning". 
-> Conclusion: Every mum knows best! 

8. When the baby will need a feed?
In the first few days, every time Alex was making a sound, I was giving him a feed. I think it worked and kept him happy, because he was either eating or sleeping, without much crying. Later he started doing a cute "pecking" move which was his "I am hungry" signal. This signal is now replaced by a distinct cry which can't be mistaken and when we hear the *meeh meeh* cry, we know he needs his milk, now! No waiting, please! 
-> Conclusion: Listen to the baby, feeding is all they want to do, especially during the first weeks.

9. Feeding all the time?
Alex was feeding for hours shortly before we went on formula and back at the time I was worried for him not to "overeat"... But can a baby really overeat? It's exhausting and a little bit scary, but like I said in the previous question, feeding is all the babies want to do during their first weeks/months. They are growing and it is normal.  
-> Cocnlusion: It won't last forever.

10.  Who I can talk to, when it all feels too much?
To feel overwhelmed is one of the most normal things for every new mum. Except for my partner, I didn't have anyone else around to talk to in person, so one of the reasons for starting this blog was to release the stress and tension through writing. And it helped! Apart from the fact that I am now stressing about the has been a very positive experience and I love it! 
-> Conclusion: It's hard if you don't have anyone close around to talk to, but sometimes there are many people ready to help without you realising it, and some of them are online. Join mum websites, networks, forums and chats, it can be really helpful!

11. Will I be a good mum?
Isn't every mother the best in the eyes of her child?

12. Will I ever sleep?
Looking forward to this day!

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