One thing I’ve realised during my journey toward motherhood (pre-motherhood, shall we say?) is that when people give you the good (fucking annoying) old line “babies don’t come with a manual!” they are actually very correct.
I mean, of course they’re correct. The hospital doesn’t give you a damn book, no fucking shit. (this is what I used to think in my head, while laughing and smiling along because, you know how it is, being polite and shit.)
BUT really, it’s truer than one might think. During my 36 weeks of growing this small human, I’ve realised exactly how much there is to know, and exactly how little you actually get told/explained to you! The amount of seemingly useless but actually crucial information I’ve picked up from Facebook mums pages followed by a quick google, is astonishing. Like the microwave being frowned upon for heating milk/formula? Nope. No idea. Carseat safety – rear facing after outgrowing a capsule is a thing! Polyester clothes/blankets a no-no for babies? Really? No clue. Nipple shields? What the fuck are they? God I’ve got a headache from it all already. All the decisions to make, and of course who has to make them all? Mama! (and Dad of course.) Swaddling? Breastfeed, bottle feed, mix feed? Baby led weaning? Delayed cord clamping, co-sleeping, cry it out, dream feeding… it goes on. Oh, does it go on.
Not to mention all the decisions when it comes to what STUFF you’re going to buy – what pram? Travel system? Capsule adapter – Capsule base? Actually do I even want a capsule? Or straight into a convertible carseat? What carseat? Should I babywear? I should babywear. What carrier? Cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers? Do I need a bouncer, a rocker, AND a swing? (for me, the answer to that last one was yes. My partner & bank account hate me. Enough said.)
Onto the more serious note – all of this learning, deciding, and researching can be really daunting for a new mama-to-be who feels like her 20/15/10/5 weeks she has left are mere days – because we all know, some days it really does feel like that. I know for me, trying to cram all the information, opinions, statistics and facts into my head & then decide what was “right” for a child I haven’t even MET yet, has had a big impact on my little friend I’ve lived with for many many years – my anxiety. Everyone – my mama, my best friend, midwife – all keep telling me “you’ll just know, you’re her mother & you’ll know what’s right for her.” See for me, no. Nope. I’m really not the kind of person you can say that to – my automatic response is “BUT WHAT IF I DON’T?!”
Thankfully, as I’m getting closer and closer to birth (which is anxiety-triggering enough in itself,) I’ve pretty much-basically-almost reached a point of calm when it comes to all these terrifying facts & decisions I’ve yet to learn and make. I’ve reached a point where I’m simply going to open to everything – what kind of feeding works for us, what kind of sleeping routine works for us (IF ANY) when me returning to my job will work for us, and everything in between. Instead of setting expectations for myself and my daughter, we will be well and truly going with the flow! Which is really scary for me, being such a rigidly routined & well planned kind of person – a stresser, in other words. But what I’ve realised is, not only can I not set unrealistic expectations for myself regarding breastfeeding, sleeping, working, and then being let down in myself when it doesn’t work out exactly the way I planned in my head – I can’t do it to HER. Like, she’s just arrived! How the fuck is she supposed to know what to do! She will learn what works for her, and I will (hopefully) pick it up along the way and learn too.
And I suppose that’s what I’ve been taking comfort in – she has just as much to learn as I do.
(and I mean, she’s got a bouncer, rocker, AND a swing. She’ll be alright, right?)