Welcome back to my blog series of advice for new and expectant parents. This week the words of experience come from Tattooed Mummy.
Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.
I’ve been blogging for donkey’s years, over ten years I think. It started as a space for my brain to leak (and rant) though I do most of that on twitter now! I also liked to save little funny stories and pictures. I’ve always blogged semi anonymously as my husband doesn’t like the thought of the world knowing who we are – I tend to think the world doesn’t care!
I’m 50, I have a daughter of 16, my husband is 69 and we recently got a puppy. We have had dogs before, DD (darling daughter) grew up with two terriers. I work full time, blog for fun and my husband is a SAHD – he has been DD’s main carer since I went back to work when she was a year old. He does all the housework. No you can’t have him, I saw him first.
What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?
When I had DD there were no mobile phones. Now that would be my one essential, for messaging and picture taking. I didn’t take anywhere near enough photos of DD when she was a newborn. 16 years ago I barely packed anything, a nightie, disposable pants and sanitary towels, and baby clothes and some nappies for DD that was it. I packed a camera but we were too busy to take pictures!
Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?
My labour and subsequent water birth went totally to plan, I’m very lucky. I was surprised by how much I bled after the birth though, and so I’d advise against a pretty new white cotton nightie (which was what I was wearing) unless you fancy looking like someone in a horror film after you’ve napped. I had visions of the perfect mum, sitting in a white sheeted bed, in a pristine nightie, holding court with my perfect baby – it’s messier than that!
What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?
I honestly didn’t feel any need for gadgets, I hate the idea of baby monitors, sterilisers (I breast fed and never needed to sterilise anything as DD was 6 months before moving on to a cup), electric rocking cradles, electric breast pumps and the like. The thing I’d opt for is just lots and lots of plain and simple baby clothes. Nothing frilly or with lots of fuss, just simple things that can be changed quickly and bunged in the washing machine. And muslin squares…you can’t have too many.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?
I don’t remember getting much advice except ‘enjoy it’. And that’s the advice I’d give, even the tough bits, embrace them, enjoy your baby, they grow up so fast!
What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?
I’m sure at least one person told me not to take my baby outside until she was ‘older’. I took her out at 5 days – is keeping a baby inside a thing? I thought that was puppies!
What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?
Relax, babies are way tougher than they look. I really struggled with breastfeeding to start with and poor tiny DD went 24hrs with no food on day 5!! After some help at the hospital we got back on track. Relax, but don’t be scared to seek help from people who know, my midwives were great.
Oh on a scary note, but useful – my midwife said ‘if you ever feel the crying gets too much, nothing is working to calm the baby and you are at the end of your tether, pop the baby in her cot and walk out into the garden for 15 minutes, she won’t die and you will get a breather, have a cup of tea, relax.’ I never needed to do this but knowing I’d been given permission helped when things got a bit stressful.
What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?
The lack of sleep. It’s like torture. ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ is a joke because they sleep when you are busy cooking dinner or having a shower or doing the shopping!! By week 6 I was sobbing and begging DD to sleep each night…but it gets better..no really..it does…a bit.
What’s the best thing about being a new parent?
Being a new parent. That’s it – it’s amazing, making a whole new person. Incredible, look at those fingers, so tiny, those eyes, so blue. Just gaze at them. DD is 16 now and I still sometimes just look at her and am amazed I made someone so gorgeous.