All The Things You Never Knew You Needed To Know: First Time Parenting
Humorous look at parenting
Whoa! No-one told me that!!
Welcome! Firstly, congratulations on your first child - whether you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of this child, or currently navigating the ups and downs of caring for and parenting this wee bundle of joy.
There is a huge amount to learn as a new parent, about your baby and about yourselves. Advice comes from all directions, from those who've been there before (usually your own parents!), from books and online searches, and those who think they have the answer (but don't have children). What to listen to? What to take on board?
Then you come across something no one has ever talked about, told you to expect, now what?
This list isn't complete in anyway, and will be added to often - feel free to share your own as you find your way!
I will be dealing with the lovely, the not so lovely, and the downright unpleasant things one needs to know, and deal with as a new parent.
The Things You Never Knew You Needed to Know
If you want one - birth plans are great. You are able to have input in to what you want to happen, the way you want to do things. If everything goes to plan - it's a wonderful experience. I know many people who have had them, had them all go to plan, and can't speak highly enough of having one.
But if things don't go to plan - some people can find it difficult to get their head around it. Not all, but some do. All that is intended by this paragraph is to put it out there that is doesn't always go to plan.
HOWEVER, the only person in control at the time of birth is not you....it's the baby.
Post Birth Plans:
We all have plans as to what we will do when the child arrives. The type of diapers we'll use, if we'll breastfeed, how long we will breastfeed for, if we'll demand feed if we'll use formula, when we'll go back to work, if we'll go back to work, if we'll use "baby led weaning", using routines, not using routines, and on and on.
A lot of the time these things go completely to plan - you use reusable diapers, breastfeeding is a dream etc etc.
BUT - don't be too hard on yourself if it doesn't go to plan.
Breastfeeding is not easy for everyone, it doesn't work for everyone. Yes, breastmilk is 'best', but tormenting yourself trying to make it work, or feeling guilty for using formula does no one any favours - least of all you or your baby!.
Exclusive expressing is an option for those people who produce enough milk and can actually get it off with expressing - it can be hard on your sanity, but it can be done.
We are all guilty of being hard on ourselves for things we can or cannot do - but what we fail to think about is this: We are doing what works for us - for our baby, for our family, for ourselves. No one has the right to judge us for that. We should not be judging ourselves.
We have to do what works. If that's disposable diapers, formula, returning to work early, strict routines/loose routines, then that's what works for you. If it's extended breastfeeding, reusable diapers, not returning to work - that's what works for you. We need not to let others put their ideals onto us, and should remember not to do that to others.
Intimacy After Having a Baby
So, you've finally had enough sleep in one go, found some time when your wee bundle of joy doesn't require you that second AND you're both in the mood?? Wow!
By all means, have fun!
But take it slowly. After childbirth, you may not be as secure in your body as you once were, and you may not realise it until that moment. Let your partner know if you are feeling insecure, not confident in yourself etc. Talk to your partner. And Partners - listen to your lady - she's dealing with new changes as well.
Contraception - Breastfeeding may stop your period, and be "ok" contraception wise - but you never know - even if you haven't had a period since the birth - be careful unless you are trying to conceive a sibling for your new bub!
If all that is fine, you have no worries - what about pain?
Most people who've had a normal delivery realise things are bit sensitive, and may feel different the first time. After all, you've recently squeezed a baby the size of a watermelon out of a hole a LOT smaller. Things will be...bruised, and sore for a bit. Hormones also do some interesting things, even when you've fully recovered from the birth - be prepared. It can be uncomfortable, even painful - talk talk talk with your partner, and take it slow.
Those of you who, like myself, had a caesarean section (for various reasons) - may think you've avoided all the 'damage' to 'down there" so restarting intimacy should be a breeze, right??! WRONG. Hormones from the birth, breastfeeding, and the receeding of hormones that were all nice and high during pregnancy can cause things to be uncomfortable or painful the first few times - again - TALK with your partner, let them know things aren't comfy.
Occasionally this also seems to affect the comfort level of using certain sanitary products as well.
I know, not good news BUT it can be overcome...and didn't I say I would tell you the things that no-one ever tells you!? Well, now you know!
The best 'advice' I can give anyone is this:
Take all advice given politely, and tuck it away in your brain for later. Use the advice if you agree with it, and want to. If you don't want to take the advice - do the polite thing and thank the person for it, tuck it away for later - you may need it later, you may not...but they are sharing because they care, not because they are telling you what to do.
Now, it's completely over to you to take this advice or not (and you don't have to be polite to me!) but it is something that worked for me, as I may not have needed it at the time, but if I thought back when struggling with something, I remembered the wee snippets.
You WILL accidentally hurt your child, whether you think so or not:
Be it whilst dressing you catch their skin with your nail, or when removing them from the car seat you bump their head on the handle to said seat or door, stick them with a pin when doing up a cloth nappy, pinch their skin in a clasp. Anything!. You will do it...and when you do - it's PERFECTLY normal to feel awful, and need a cry. I bawled the first time I accidentally hurt my little one...after I had finished soothing her, dressing her and handing her to my partner, I went off for a good cry. She doesn't remember, but I do!.
Accidentally is FINE. On purpose....COMPLETELY different story.
You will need a break once in a while.
It is perfectly okay to feel this way. It is also perfectly okay to need to put your wee bundle of joy down some place safe, and let them cry for a bit, while you go outside, take a deep breath/cry/scream/have a cup of tea. You may reach the end of your tether and wish they'd just SHUT UP, and you'll feel awful about feeling that way afterwards, but remembering it's perfectly normal - as LONG as you WALK AWAY.
It takes a stronger person to walk away, than to shake a child. NEVER EVER SHAKE A CHILD.
And remember - there are (usually) two of you in this new parenting gig. Don't be afraid to ask your partner for a hand. They'll will usually love to have time to bond with their new little one as well. Often as mothers, we take the bulk of the load because we are usually feeding - but this baby isn't just ours! Let your partners have time with the bubs - bonding is great for them as well.
For those solo parents - ring a friend, they are more than happy to help!
Daddy/Partner Time with Baby is Important Too
Has this Hub been enlightening?
You Know Your Child Best
Even though this wee spilly bundle of noise, poop and general wonderfulness is new to you, you are the ones that know your bundle best.
Doctors, nurses and other professionals, have experience with children in general, so are well qualified to treat your child if there are illness or injury worries - however, if you feel that you are not being heard, or they are missing something - SPEAK UP.
It is perfectly alright to speak up and say "I think you need to look into..." or "I'm concerned, we tried that last time and it hasn't worked, can we look into...". It's perfectly alright to seek a second opinion if you feel that there is something wrong. As a nurse myself, prior to being a parent, I appreciated when people said "Somethings isn't right with Bubs....I can't put my finger on it, but I'm worried" - you know your bub better than I do, if you are worried - often there is a reason! (yes, there are those who worry too much - many many FT parents...including myself!)
Parents often have a sense that their little one is 'off'. I remember being told by my mother, that she had gotten me up for the day one day, and I wasn't myself, so she went to the doctor - with "not herself" as the worry! The Doctor took a look in my ears, and said "If she ever complains of a sore stomach, she's probably burst her appendix" - I was off, grizzly etc, but such a placid wee thing grizzly was unusual - I had two infected ears. (I apparently have a high pain tolerance!), So go with your 'sense' and fight for your little one until you get an answer that you feel happy with.
NOTE: Viral illness is unfortunately very common. And there is little they can do for the viral colds etc. It's the most ANNOYING thing to hear "Oh it's just viral" when you've been worrying about the sound of the coughs etc....I'm sorry, but there isn't a lot they can do except keep an eye on it. (and I've been there...it's annoyed me too!)
You will find yourself sitting and gazing at your wee bundle for what seems like hours on end (it's not, I promise). You will sit and gaze in wonder at the little miracle you brought into the world. And then you will wonder where the day went.
To be frank - WHO CARES! The day went by whilst you were gazing at your most precious bundle - and that's just fine. They're nicknamed "little time wasters" as you can spend forever taking in every inch of their perfect skin, little toes, little fingers, button nose. This is precious time. They are only this small this once...enjoy it!
The housework can wait, dinner doesn't have to be flash. But you never get this time back...enjoy it while you can!
In the End, You'll be just Fine!
In the end - you discover things as you go along. Some of this article will make sense now, or later. You will find a way that works for you and your family to navigate the ups and downs that is parenting.
Good luck, and feel free to share what you discover for yourself!
I will update as I discover more with my wee bundle of joy (that is 6mths already...where did that time go!)