The magnificent Phinling is three months old this week, huzzah! We have graduated from being parents of a newborn which is partly great because, um, we don’t have to parent a newborn, and partly dreadful because everyone now expects us to have our shit together when we still really don’t. The world is now less accepting of me disappearing every two hours to draw a pentagram on the bedroom floor and pray to the nap gods.
But! To mark the end of Ada’s 12th week, here are 12 scraps of info I’d send back in time to pregnant-me if I could…
Four things I wish I’d known
Breastfeeding is really hard
Midwives will tell you it’s tricky to begin with and that it soon gets easier, but this is a massive understatement designed to encourage fragile pregnant women. What it actually encourages is a massive feeling of confusion and failure when it turns out to be difficult and uncomfortable and OF COURSE IT IS, A PERSON WITH LITERALLY NO CONTROL OVER THEIR BODY IS MANICALLY CHOMPING AT YOUR BOOBS ROUND THE CLOCK WTF
Bottlefeeding is science-y
Related to the above; I had to learn everything about bottlefeeding on the hoof, sometimes as a hungry baby was crying in my face. What kind of bottles should we buy? How do you store breastmilk? How do you heat breastmilk? Which is the best formula? How sterile is sterile? I wish I’d learned just a little bit more than ‘Formula is expensive!’ before Ada was born.
Nature hates women
As a previously healthy person, I was shocked at just how much conception, pregnancy and birth made my body crumble like an overcooked meringue. I’m covered in cannula scars and stitches, my hair’s falling out in clumps and I have a permanently raised risk of nasty illnesses thanks to months and months of fertility drugs. Wow, being female really is super sexy funtimes!
Absolutely anything about babies
Newborns eat, sleep and poo. It’s simple! Exhaustingly simple! I should’ve spent way less time learning about that short phase and more time reading up on what happens when they wake up one day and stare at you expectantly. I had literally no idea what to do with her for a while. Uhh, do you like jazz??
Four things I wish I’d never heard
What baby needs most is a happy mummy
Said to me by multiple health visitors and midwives – roughly translates as ‘although it goes against official guidelines, I tacitly agree that it’s fine to formula feed/cosleep/drink wine/develop a mum-and-baby ventriloquist act and head to Vegas’. However, as a naturally dour person, I have this ringing in my ears every time I look or feel less than 100% thrilled with daily life as servant to a tiny slobbery dictator. What Ada needs most is a clean bum, a full tummy and a healthy respect for fire and large ocean predators. Parental happiness is incidental.
Get on with it
‘In my day we just had to get on with it’
‘When you have a second you just have to get on with it’
‘Soon you’ll just get on with it’
I honestly have no idea what this means, but I’ve heard it loads of times and find it hard not to be offended and mystified. I… am getting on with it! I got up at 3am and put a binky in a crying face! Yesterday I washed poo off a towel! I’m writing this one handed on my phone, on a bed with a crashed-out baby and a plate of abandoned sausage rolls! I think it possibly means ‘Don’t worry so much’, which is why it’s always said by those of a pre-Google generation.
A mother will never turn her back on a sleeping child
A midwife said this in a parenting class, to convince us that cosleeping was probably fine. The problem is that I am now guiltridden every time I turn away from the crib, those words haunt me in slow motion – a mother never tuuuurrrrrns. Neverrrr tuuuurns, and I feel like a terrible monster. A monster with an achy neck, a numb arm and a weird gutter-dent in my mattress.
Sleep when the baby sleeps!
This is great advice if you never want to shower, eat, shop, email or talk to another human being ever again. Otherwise just stay up and… get on with it? Is that what that means? Okay!
Four great things my baby has taught me
This too shall pass
Sleepless nights? Over (mostly) within two months. Constant arm flailing? Over in three. That week when she’d only nap on my shoulder and my spine almost fused? Long gone. Everything passes frighteningly quickly, you just have to ride it out. Which is good advice for life in general.
Babies are funny
Breaking wind in the middle of intense marital disputes! Licking everyone’s shoulders as a form of relaxation! Sleeping with her legs in the air, like a shelf bracket! Our baby is surprisingly hilarious.
When she wakes up, Ada puts her hands behind her head and stretches so far backwards that she arches her back right off the bed, a move we call ‘the croissant’. I copied her once for a laugh but the joke was on me because it was SO SATISFYING.
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!