I’m writing to give you a heads-up on the madness you’ve let yourself in for! Becoming a Mum is going to be the toughest and most rewarding experience of your life.
Don’t panic if “the moment” isn’t there. From the moment you announced your pregnancy, people have built up the moment you first hold your child. Naturally, you are informed, you’ll be filled with elation and an instant bond will form. When you hold your baby for the first time, you actually panic as he’s not crying (nothing’s wrong; he’s actually just chilled out lying on you). When you realise he’s fine, you’ll then feel awful, hormonal and mean for not having this perfect, overwhelming bond. Cue crying when visiting hours are over as you don’t want to be responsible for a baby you’re obviously not right for! Chill out – the feeling will come, and it’ll be wonderful; it’s just not there when you first hold him.
You will become a mama bear. Not just in a cute, cuddly way, but in an instinctive, bear-fight to protect them way. You’ll go from the least confrontational person ever to someone who will always stand up for their children. This will prove pretty useful, particularly when baby number 2 needs urgent medical help but nobody is listening. You will care for these boys more than you thought possible.
Your husband will amaze you.
You know he’s a good egg, but seeing him grow into a father is just brilliant, and makes you love him in a whole new way. He’ll sit up with you during some of those tough night feeds, tackle the laundry and basically do what plenty of articles and blogs have lead you to believe he may have an inbuilt need to neglect! He will be tougher than you on the boys, and you’ll have plenty of tiny negotiations right up to big debates on their upbringing. But ultimately, you’re a well balanced team.
Advice can be useful. People have loving intentions (most of the time). Ask if you need help, but take a look at the research and information available to you. Every parent you know has tried their best, but some parenting ‘trends’ that they mock are based on important progress, and you shouldn’t give in to peer pressure if something doesn’t feel right to you.
The choices you make will divide people. How you feed your boys, how you carry or push them, how you will wean them… You never expected so much unsolicited advice! Some of this is useful, but learn to say when you don’t actually want their opinions. Tentatively, awkwardly breastfeeding your firstborn while an entire room debates the matter (a fair few ironically saying how unnatural it is, and commenting that they find it disgusting) is an unpleasant experience, but ultimately makes you more confident. Whatever your decisions on all the above, you’re making them for the right reasons, based on what you’re able to give and your knowledge of what’s best at the time.
Go easy on the visitors. You’ve just had the strangest, most life changing experience, and now you have a whole new person stealing all your sleep and energy. Don’t let everyone visit in the first week! You’ll learn this lesson by the second time around, and people will be less interested, anyway.
You have lots to learn. But reading up on everything, including this letter, couldn’t possibly prepare you for the huge change in direction your life is about to take. Enjoy the ride, and know that whenever you panic that you’re making the wrong choices, at least you care enough to be worrying about it. That’s just the crazy, intense love of being a parent!