Hey lady! You with the tiny baby! I’m going to have to ask you to put down the expectations. Place them gently on the floor and walk slowly towards me.
Ok good. I’ve put the kettle on. Let’s talk.
To get through the first few months of motherhood, you’re going to have to think twice about the plans you made for your life as a parent. Here are my own personal worst offenders from when I was starting out as a mum:
Expectation: With just a little bit of hard work, you’ll be able to establish an effective sleep routine.
Mothers who gloat that this is possible either have babies as rare as a 70% off pair of Manolos that actually fit, or they’re the same women who are banging on the door at Tresilian two months down the track because their beautiful sleeper is now a round the clock screamer.
The sleep thing is non linear. Babies have good weeks and bad weeks, good nights and bad nights, good hours and… you get where I’m going with this don’t you?
My advice: Try to go with the flow and just don’t beat yourself up over random sleep patterns. It will get better (in about 18 years).
Expectation: Your life will be perfect and the only hashtag you’ll need to use again is #SoBlessed
Life is full of ups and downs. So is parenting. There will be days where you’ll be tempted to ring the Stork which delivered your baby to ask for a full refund. Having crappy moments is completely normal and totally fine but it takes a while to realise that. The good will outweigh the bad. If it seriously doesn’t, speak to a medical professional because it doesn’t need to be that way.
Expectation: Hubby will be an adoring father who cares about nothing but his precious angel
It’s a bit of a bummer that a lot of men fail on this one. Of course he will love the child, and he’ll tell anyone who listens just how much he loves him when he’s out on the golf course, or surfing, or at the pub while you are at home trying to work out how to use an electronic snot sucker.
The first months of parenthood can be really testing on a relationship as you establish the roles you’ll be playing.
My advice: Talk, talk, talk, get things out there and work through it together.
Expectation: Breastfeeding is going to be soooooo amazing
Yeah… No. It’s nice for bonding and all that, but at times you will feel more drained than True Blood’s Sookie Stackhouse after a passion session with Bill Compton. Experts agree “breast is best” blah blah blah but they don’t say much about how much having a baby sucking on you all time can, um, suck.
I wasn’t the hugest fan of breastfeeding. I stuck it out for ten months then introduced formula here and there before totally weaning my son at age one and breathing a huge sigh of relief that it was over.
Expectation: Baby will be chemical free, TV free and won’t even know what a Mars bar is until he is old enough to drive.
One night after enduring hours of screaming from a poor teething baby my husband suggested using Panadol. We had some in the cupboard and I agreed that it was time to implement Plan Z in teething pain management. My son was asleep ten minutes later. Everyone has an opinion on this but mine is that I choose to use panadol or nurofen when nothing else I can do will ease his pain.
It’s the same with TV, only this is to ease my pain. My son stopped napping regularly at 18 months. The ‘electronic nanny’ gives him the quiet time he needs and gives me time to do the dishes / make dinner / hide in the pantry eating chocolate.
Ah yes, the chocolate thing! I LOVE chocolate. So does my son. We share it together as a special treat. I feel like that’s not such a bad thing.
Parenthood is a brave new world! My advice: read lots of the advice and then do what works for you.