If I could turn back time and talk to my pre-baby self, what would I want to tell her?
I almost obsessed with birth during my first baby. Reading about childbirth, talking about birthplans, practising breathing for labour and worrying if I would cope with the pain. I almost forgot I would actually have a tiny human to raise at the end of it. By the time I was home from the hospital the actual birth seemed a world away. While nothing really prepares you for actually becoming a mother, it was then that I realised how little I knew about looking after a baby. In reality with childbirth you have very limited control over when or how baby will arrive so I wish I had spent just a tad more time thinking about parenting rather than birthing.
You will sleep for more than three consecutive hours again.
You will get back to a routine where day and night are different.
You will function as a normal adult human again.
You will reclaim some much craved adult time. You will feel like you again.
You will wear clothes that arnt marked with baby milk/baby poo/your own lunch.
This phase you're in right now is tough, but it will get easier.
For me, the newborn please was really hard, but the bigger they get the more you will get back from them. Don't get me wrong parenting is still the most thankless role you will ever have undertake but when those first few smiles and giggles start to come it really does make it all worthwhile.
Endless googling of 'When do babies sleep through the night' will not make your baby sleep through the night any quicker. In fact, reading stories about babies who slept through the night from 3 weeks/3 months old only serves to make you feel worse when your baby is nowhere near to doing so. Every baby is different but they will eventually start sleeping a little longer between night feeds and even this will make a huge difference and then eventually they will sleep through the night.
For me, from the moment that I became pregnant, part of me was already a parent. I felt my baby move inside me and formed a magical bond that existed between us even before they were born. In contrast my husband said he only became a parent when our first was born and that bond between parent and child can take much longer to develop for them. In the early days I was baby's only source of food and much of their comfort which often made it harder for him to find a way to be useful. Dads are often back to work for long hours and as baby routines can change from one day to the next dads can feel like they're always playing catchup. It doesn't mean that they don't want to be as involved, just that they're finding their feet with their role as parents too and sometimes this can take a little longer.
At times this can be incredibly overwhelming and frustating. Some of it's good, some of it's bad and some if it's downright ridiculous. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how babies should eat/sleep/be held/entertained. If it's not advice that's right for you then you don't have to follow it, but every now and then someone will pass on a golden nugget of information that's totally magic for your child and you would be lost without.
Parenting can be really lonely in the beginning. So get out there to your local baby group and meet some other mums. You might not like the first one you go to but persevere with different ones. You will be opened up to a whole new social circle of other parents going through the exact same things as you and that can be a lifeline for you in this new stage of your life.
...and not one where you're you know what time it is from what daytime TV your watching.
Perhaps not everyone needs this but it really helped me. I went straight from work to having a baby with no maternity time wind down. I found it really hard to adjust to the change of pace from the hectic jam packed schedule of a workday to the completely different pace of this 24h job of parenting where at times I felt like I was living some crazy groundhog day. Don't get me wrong I still watched a lot of boxsets in the newborn days but getting my own routine being showered and dresses (even in the early days if I wasn't going to leave the house) helped me start to feel human again.
Easier said than done if you've had a winter baby but a bit of fresh air really does make you feel so much better, and it doesn't have to be for long. Plus a gentle walk is great for healing post birth.