Welcome back to Meet the Parents, my weekly blog series where a blogger and parent shares their advice for first-time and expectant parents. This week we welcome Hannah, who blogs at The Amphletts.
Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.
I’m Hannah, the voice behind The Amphletts, wife of Mr A and Mama to little N. Mr A’s military career defines our family, where we live, when we move and when we’re apart – but we wouldn’t have it any other way. As a family we love outdoor adventures with our cockapoo Poppy, quiet family time making memories and spending time with friends and relatives.
I launched The Amphletts blog late last year, to keep a record of our family adventures, before little N gets too big and they’re all a distant memory. I wish I’d started earlier and captured those first few months and memories as a new Mama, as there’s already so much I’ve forgotten.
What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?
Comfy pants…I don’t think I need to explain why!
Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?
The first indication that I was in labour was when my waters broke in the middle of the night, but I didn’t have any contractions at the time. I didn’t realise that meant I would need to be booked for an induction 24 hours later, as I just expected to have to wait for nature to kick in and regular contractions to start – maybe I should have read more parenting books, but it definitely wasn’t mentioned at antenatal class!
What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?
A bath thermometer. Not a regular item on any ‘must have’ list, but it was one of the best things we bought after the obvious cot, pushchair, car seat etc. It was only after we started using ours that I realised why little N hated bath time so much, we’d been over cautious with the temperature and it was too cold – which explained the screaming baby! Since then, little N has always loved bath time, and it’s been a chance for the boys to bond and spend quality time together.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?
“You will make mistakes, and that’s ok.” My Mum used to repeat this to me when little N was little. It was definitely a comfort and made it a little bit easier to forgive myself for making mistakes on some of the hardest days, when I was too tired, too dazed and confused to remember the basics.
What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?
It’s only looking back now that I realise how unfair a lot of advice aimed at new parents actually is – there is so much focus on getting your baby into a routine, not setting bad sleeping habits or feeding them on demand etc. It’s really tough as a new Mama to navigate it all, when in the first few months, survival is all that matters. The advice is all given with the best intentions, but I remember spending hours feeling like a failure because I didn’t put little N down at nap times and he often fell asleep while feeding, when I really should have been celebrating that we’d found a way to make it work for us and I’d been able to catch my breath.
What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?
Go with your instincts. As tempting as it is to reach for the latest parenting manual or app on your phone when you don’t have all the answers, remember you know your baby better than anyone else. It takes time, but you will learn to know the difference between a cry of pain, for hunger or because they are over tired etc. and you will know how to respond – it’s the way Mother Nature intended.
What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?
Loneliness. We moved to Wiltshire while I was pregnant, and a few weeks later Mr A was deployed overseas, so I headed home to Devon. Fast forward a few months, little N had arrived, Mr A went back to work and I was all alone. With no friends or family nearby to drop in, hold the baby so I could have a quick shower or to offer an hour of solace and a hot cup of tea, I really struggled. My biggest regret is not finding the confidence to leave the house and try our local baby groups earlier, because it made all the difference.
What’s the best thing about being a new parent?
Everything. Despite the sleepless nights, my battle with mum guilt, the despair, anger and frustrations, none of it compares to the overwhelming love and adoration of being a new parent.