Our third child is due in November. Our other kids will be 9 and 7, and with that bit of a gap there’s an element of “going back” going on.
Going back to nappies, going back to not sleeping, going back to starting solids, going back to having no brain and leaving the house topless, etc.
Which is great, because I’ve wanted this third child ever since we met our second.
And because of this, things are different. I know more this time. And in the spirit of self-help books which I completely ignore, here is my list of Top Things I Now Know About Having (not making, that’s a very personal list) Babies:
1. While I’m really uncomfortable and feel like a whale already, I’m savouring every kick, nudge and bump. It’s incredible and I feel so lucky. Plenty of people would love to experience this and haven’t been able to yet. If you’re one of them, please ignore Michelle Bridges and her smug “I’m so healthy that’s why I’m pregnant” bullshit.
2. You can and should prepare yourself for labour. If you’re at all interested in my advice, this is it: read everything you can about active birth. If you’re preggers, that is. If you’re not expecting to give birth any time soon, your time is best spent elsewhere.
Anyway, do that and you’ll go into it feeling a bit more prepared, and there is less chance you’ll freak out on the day. A great labour is possible. Unless of course your baby has other ideas. They’re unpredictable like that.
3. Going back to work after maternity leave can be an emotional roller coaster. Anything you can do to lesson the stress is good. It’s insane I know, but that’s why we’ve got the baby booked into day care already. I’m taking 12 months maternity leave and when the time comes, I don’t want the stress of no decent care. And this is a new day care centre near my kids school, so drop-offs will be a cinch.
While I’m talking work, let me state the obvious and say that mothers work for different reasons. Some love it, some hate it but feel they have to – whatever. Do what works for you and don’t get caught up in the “stay at home mummy” vs the “working mummy” rubbish. OK? OK.
4. Setting up some kind of nursery is a joy. Not only that, but having it done before your baby arrives makes you feel really organised. I have no idea where we’re going to put this baby, but that’s another story.
I’m trying to copy my husband’s super casual, relaxed approach and not worry about it. It’s not working.
5. Newborns are beautiful and you’ll spend hour after hour staring at yours. They are the ultimate time wasters. You’ll love it fiercely…
6…. but it might be seriously hard going. If you’re having a hard time with your baby and you happen to be reading this, I’m giving you a big virtual hug. It can be tough. Telling people you’re having a hard time doesn’t mean you love your baby any less, or that you’re not a good mother. Accept any decent help that’s offered and if you need some more, ask.
7. Whether you have an “easy” baby or not depends mostly on the baby and not on the parenting abilities of the mother. Please don’t tell a new mother that calm babies are the result of calm, patient mothers. It’s completely unhelpful and reminiscent of Michelle Bridges.
Likewise telling a new mother about the importance of routine and “understanding your baby’s signals.” That new mother is trying her best and you’re making them feel like shit.
Want to be really nice? Tell her she’s doing a fantastic job. They’ll never forget you saying so.
8. This house has never been an organised, tidy haven of calm. I have friends with kids who have freakishly tidy homes, I have no idea how, and it must lovely – even for a couple of days. Now that we’re starting again, though, I just don’t see it happening and I have to get over it.
For every Pinterest photo of an immaculate, styled room there is a disproportionate number of real rooms that are not immaculate, styled, clean, tidy, tasteful or pretty. These are rooms where life is lived and we should all (I’m including myself here) stop stressing about them.
9. We all love our children, and it’s great to have other stuff going on too. Don’t tell everyone you know every single little tiny thing your kid does. I know I sound mean but I’m doing you a favour and telling you it’s boring.
You’re a mother and that’s wonderful. You’re also still you. You’ve changed, absolutely, but your friends (I’m mostly talking Facebook here) don’t need a daily run-down of your baby’s poo. They just don’t. No-one does.
Unless one turns out to have a two carat diamond within its contents, or an ancient scroll missing from the Dead Sea. We’d all want to hear about that.
10. The time will fly and before you know it, they’ll be at school.
OK so it might not be the most profound, complete list, but it’s what I’ve come up with while having a tea and several Tim Tams. I don’t even like Tim Tams, they were for the baby, so it’s a really selfless act on my part.
What would you add?