Parenthood changes you. In my opinion for the better, I get up earlier (not by choice but still), I’m forced to be organised and think ahead, I value my free time much much more and I’ve stopped spending ridiculous amounts of money on fancy eyeshadow pallets and trainers. Win, win. Its taught me the value of good friendships, that self-care is key and that I can make dinner in sub 5 minutes. 8 months in, here are my highlights
Tiredness. Becoming a parent takes tiredness to new heights. In the first few weeks, maybe a month or two — your pink new little crinkly baby will sleep all the time. You’ll smile at your friends and say “they’re a really good sleeper”, people will say “Ah you don’t even look tired” but it’s coming… the tiredness is lurking in the shadows (I’m not entirely sure when this happened, I was probably too sleep-deprived to remember) and you have never felt tiredness like it. You have (if you’re lucky) 5 hours of broken sleep but still… you wake up ready to face the day. You do your everyday normal routine, apply one extra layer of under-eye concealer, tackle some chores, sort some life admin, you are functioning and it feels good. It gets to 6 pm and you realise you’ve survived the day and that in fact parents are superheroes but don’t get too ahead of yourself… bedtime is looming.
The not-so-essential essentials. You find out you’re pregnant and you start a list… A list of baby stuff, a few essentials, a few luxuries and you feel like you’ve got your shit together. A pram, a coat, a sleepyhead, a thermometer, a bath thermometer, nail clippers, the list goes on. The baby arrives and you find out that you actually need very little to keep your little bundle alive. As they get older, they get harder to entertain so you shower them with fancy (annoyingly loud) toys but little did we know that, in fact, they’re happy to sit in a nappy and play with some spag bol stained Tupperware and a wooden spoon.
You can never ever get too comfortable with a baby. Not on the sofa, not with them enjoying a full nights sleep, not in any new phase they’re going through. Nothing. As soon as you’re over the sleep regression, bam they start to crawl or as soon as you’ve nailed breastfeeding — it’s time to wean. Never ever get too comfortable.
You really value your friends who have babies. The advice they have is invaluable and you’re grateful for the honesty that they give you. They make you feel like you’re prepared for all of the phases that are to come. Sleep regression, teething, the neediness to name a few! They also make reassure you that everything you’re going through is completely normal and you haven’t lost your mind …even if that’s how you feel.
You value your friends who don’t have babies, just as much. They keep the pre-baby Chelsea alive and are totally up for talking about non-baby stuff and hanging out just like you did before. They love your child just as much as they love you and it’s just like you’ve recruited a new much-younger-unable-to-drink member to your squad.
Is the hangover worth it? As you leave the baby sitters in your best outfit, hair did and gasping for a glass of bubbles en route to partay — you never think of the consequences. The thumping headache whilst having to listen to Mr Tumble or the smell of pureed broccoli whilst trying not to spew up your guts just does not cross your mind. The endless stream of beverages just keep on coming without a care in the world yet the mornings upon us and we vow the vow that everyone has taken “I’m never drinking again”.
Fresh air is good for both of you. Getting out and stretching the legs, seeing some other adult faces, breathing in the fresh air and managing to escape Pepper Pig even for a little bit feels so good. Maternity leave can be another kind of cabin fever. You’re happy with staying in your pyjamas and avoiding the washing up until day 479 when you must escape and take a stroll around your local park but quickly rush home when the baby starts to ‘kick off’ as you couldn’t bear to deal with that in public!
Fed is best. There will be a million opinions and advice being thrown around left right and centre when it comes to feeding your baby. Midwives will physically put you in a headlock and scream BREAST IS BEST and you’ll get all worked up thinking maybe I won’t be able to? And you know what — those thoughts are normal and if you can’t breastfeed then THAT IS FINE. As long as your baby is fed and happy, then what else in the world matters?
Especially when the first laughs and smiles happen. There is honestly nothing in the world like it. The little human that drives you to the brink of sleep exhaustion and throws food around your kitchen is smiling and laughing — they’re happy. Suddenly, everything feels worth it (until the next lump of sweet potato is raspberried in my face)
You realise that your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other is the best person on the planet. Someone to share the load and understands everything that’s going on. Someone to take the reigns of bath time and keep the crawling spider-baby entertained whilst you have a quick wee (what is it about not being able to wee alone when you’re a mum?). A personal favourite of mine is when it’s their turn to change a nappy and it’s a really gross one, ha! That’s for not emptying the dishwasher.
You worry all of the time. Are they too hot? Are they too cold? Have they been asleep for too long? Motherhood came with a world of worries and people say that that stays with you… probably until they’re 18 — then I’m sure it’ll be a different kind of worrying. In the early days, I’d find myself hunched over the side of the cot checking he’s breathing when in fact I could’ve sat on the sofa with a glass of Rioja because I’m sure the whole street can hear him snoring!
Soak up the snoozes. I absolutely loved the ‘sleeping on my chest’ phase, being so close that you could sniff the newborn smell off of their soft furry heads. The afternoon naps on the sofa not being able to reach the remote so you weirdly just sit and watch them sleep. There really isn’t anything like it. Fast forward a couple of months and the newborn smell has disappeared without you even noticing, they’re too big to sleep on your chest and they fight sleep like nobody’s business. Time moves way too fast, they grow before your eyes and it’s hard to keep track.