Baby changes everything, right?
One thing I was warned that would change for me when I had a baby was taking holidays.
Now, I love a good last minute deal as much as the next person. Book the flight, get time off work, pack the rucksack and away, easily done. However, with a baby, this just isn’t possible.
The travel must be well planned and the accommodation fairly decent. I can live with this, after all, you reach a certain age where you look a bit out of place staying in hostels, and though I passed that age a while ago, I’ve been reluctant to admit it, but with a baby in tow, it can no longer be denied.
The next big way I was told my life would change was that the nights out and the dinners would stop. For me, it didn't stop - it was just different
Most of the time, dinner is earlier and the baby comes with me and and I miss out on the drinks. I could go out and hubby stays in or vice versa and yes, while nights out are far fewer, I don’t feel like I’m missing out. It still can be done - with careful planning.
What I am saying is that you don't have to say goodbye to your old life.
For me, it has been the things I’d never realised that would change that have taken me by surprise.
Firstly I am now super defensive. As a mum with a tiny beautiful baby, a woman suddenly becomes public property, ‘does she sleep through the night?’ ‘does she take a dummy?’ ‘are you breast feeding?’ ‘do you always pick her up when she cries?’ ‘are you making your own food?’ and while the answer to these questions is either yes or no, you’ll find yourself launching into a lengthy tirade as to why things are this way, as if to prove your worthiness as a mother, because everyone knows better, everyone!
You’ll meet a lot of new people over the coming months, health workers, new mums, strangers who won’t be able to help themselves having a peek at the gorgeous new baby, and while this is wonderful, you must accept that no one will ask you your name.
From this point on you are now ‘baby’s mum’ and it’s an honour you should be proud of. I know I’m so proud to be ‘Amelia’s mum’ that I didn’t even realise that no one had been asking my name until I had Amelia at the optometrist after being referred by the nurse. She took us into the room ‘hello Amelia, nice to meet you, let’s have a look in that eye’, then she turned to me and said ‘hi, I’m Jenny, what’s your name?’ not ‘and what’s mummy’s name Amelia?’ or ‘what’s your name, mummy?’ Simple as that. ’Hi, I’m Jenny, what’s your name?’ I got a lump in my throat as I answered her, I felt so special, I’d forgotten I am a person too. I must go back and see Jenny the next time I need a new pair of glasses.
Additionally, no one warned me of how the mind will wander when you have a baby. The most recent example I can think of was the other week when Amelia was sitting up on her own and instead of falling over - she was correcting herself, keeping her balance and pushing herself back up if she did fall over.
I shouted hubby in to have a look and we sat and watched her enthusiastically. ‘She’s getting so grown up’ hubby said, and with those words, the moment for me was ruined. While hubby was watching and encouraging her, all I could think of was ‘she IS growing up fast, she’ll be walking soon, what if she falls down the stairs?, then she’ll be going to school, what if she doesn’t make friends?, oh she’ll make friends at high school, but what if they offer her drugs? What if she joins a cult? What if she gets married and lives overseas and I hardly see her?’ So, instead of watching her, I’m fretting, missing it all, which of course leads to the guilt.
Oh, the guilt.... I find I’m constantly questioning every one of my parenting moves, which is so strange cause this time last year I knew all the answers – I’d read a heap of books you see. I feel guilty that I check my Facebook while I’m feeding her on the odd occasion she wakes for a night feed, I feel guilty if I hear her crying in her cot when I come in from hanging out a washing, I feel guilty if we only go for a short walk one day instead of a long one, I feel guilty that I don’t make enough of her food myself (although it’s always the healthy packets of food she gets – not the ones with preservatives – see defensiveness).
Finally, nothing could ever prepare you for the love you feel for your child, absolutely nothing. To think you love your baby so much when you meet her and then every day it just grows and grows, where does it stop? When I am out without her I find my pace quickening to get home and see her, I just don’t want to miss one of her smiles. These smiles, oh gee, they just make my heart melt. The trouble is they are few and far between, I’m sure she has a weekly quota of smiles she dishes out just to make sure we come back and try and get another. I really could go on and on, but I have to make a phone call to my mum to tell her that Amelia slept with one arm up and one arm down last night instead of two arms up, such is the conversations you will soon find yourself having.
So rather than advising you to relax and enjoy yourself the last few weeks, cause let’s face it, it’s hard to relax in your current state especially when you want your baby NOW! I’d say just find ways to distract yourself until the little one arrives and changes your life forever; trust me it’ll be worth the wait.
So what about everyone else? In what unexpected ways did your life change when you had children?