Looking back, what have I learnt?
Since becoming a parent for a second time I have been reflecting about what I have learnt about having children, from labour, through bringing a newborn home, to the challenges of a growing child.
I have thought of some advice I wanted to write down for new parents (and for myself to look back on, just in case I need reminding!). So, here goes…
1. You know your own body – be more assertive! With Little Mr A I had no idea what labour was going to be like and I didn’t cope well at all. When I first arrived at the hospital they told me to go home as I wasn’t very far along and they couldn’t tell if my waters had broken. I told them I was certain they had, however, being my first I couldn’t know for sure and so I followed their advice and went home. This did however put me off going back into hospital and, when I arrived back at 9pm that evening I was 7cm dilated and in some distress. The birth didn’t go the way I had planned or the way I had wanted it to, however, this made me more determined to do it right the second time around. With Little Miss A I was more aware of what was happening. Having said this, I still didn’t get to the hospital very early, being told over the telephone not to come in until I was absolutely sure. After arriving at the hospital, 50 minutes later Little Miss A was born, however, I did feel I got the birth I wanted second time around and it was much more relaxed.
2. It hurts! Everyone had told me how much labour hurt but I though well it can’t be that bad or else people wouldn’t do it more than once! With Little Mr A I struggled. I found the pain quite unbearable and there were times I said that silly thing that I shout at people on One Born Every Minute for saying, ‘I can’t do it!’. I had plenty of gas and air which did help a little but it still really hurt! Little Miss A was much easier and, although not pain free, I certainly coped better and I would highly recommend a water birth for assistance with pain relief!
3. It is harder than you could ever imagine. When pregnant everyone tells you what it is like to have a baby and you think well maybe they are exaggerating. Surely I won’t be that tired? Surely it can’t be that difficult? Yes you can be and yes it is! Personally I really struggled with the lack of sleep. I am not the easiest person to live with if I don’t get my full 8 hours a night and Big Mr A and I argued, a lot! It is often difficult to know why your baby is crying and won’t settle and, if they have colic (like Little Mr A) it can be very draining. Having said this, the first time your baby smiles or giggles all of this is forgotten and you realise what a wonderful thing you have created.
4. Get out and about. I made the mistake when I had Little Mr A, of sitting at home on my own a lot. I became very lonely and depressed and found it difficult to cope. He was quite a grumpy baby and I felt like I was going mad. I did eventually start attending some toddler groups which really helped and it was nice to hear other mums talking about how they felt and realising I was not alone.
5. Accept all the support and help that is offered. I don’t like to accept help from family and friends. I feel like I am not coping and failing as a Mum. Really what I should do is say, thank you very much I would love you to do the pots/make me a cup of tea/take my children for a couple of hours. I think it is a good idea to swallow your pride and accept all the help that is offered particularly in those first few weeks. It doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a great job. Everyone needs a little help sometimes.
A growing child
6. The most important thing is to get a sleep routine as soon as possible. This has been easier said than done for us though. I have posted previously about the Little A’s sleep troubles. For some reason we just don’t have children that sleep! Little Mr A was still sleeping in our bed at the age of 3 and it meant we had no time to ourselves at all. Little Miss A is going the same way and we don’t know how to fix it! If anyone has the magic answer to getting children to sleep I would be very grateful!
7. There are always new challenges at every age. Newborns bring with them lack of sleep and needing constant attention. Then comes the toddler stage where you need to watch them constantly as they start to walk, climb and investigate everywhere you don’t want them to. We found 3 to be a difficult age and one that seemed full of tears and tantrums. Then they turn 4 and start school which brings challenges of it’s own. 5, well we have only just begun 5. So far we are dealing with a very strong willed little boy and arguments do happen, however, it is getting easier and we are all learning all of the time. I have found the most important thing is to make sure you stick to what you say. If you say they can’t have a treat because they have misbehaved, stick to it! They soon learn that you mean business!
8. Make time as a couple. This is something that Big Mr A and I don’t get to do often enough. I do think it is important though to get out and remember being a couple rather than just a family. I have always found the Little A’s cope fine being looked after by someone else and Big Mr A and I always have a great time whenever we do get to snatch a few hours to ourselves.
9. Don’t make them grow up too fast. I remember when Little Mr A was small I wished for the next stage all the time. I wanted him to start eating proper food, I wanted him to start crawling, walking, talking. Now I wish I had sat back and treasured those moments more. With Little Miss A, no matter how much I have tried to slow her down, she won’t have it! She has been early doing everything! It has been nice to document every moment with her on my blog and I wish I had this record for Little Mr A too.
10. Make the most of every second. Before you know it your children will be starting school and you will be wondering where your baby disappeared to so quickly. Once they start school a little bit of that Mummy/child relationship gets lost as a new chapter and adventure starts and although sad, it is lovely to watch them grow into confident young children.
Do you have any more tips you think I should have included?