Monday, 18 July 2011

What the baby books forget to tell you

Six years ago tomorrow I became a mum.

I’m sure I’m not alone in having read every single book I could get my hands on, scoured the internet obsessively and attended my ante-natal classes and listened and learned like an A-grade student in preparation for being the perfect mum.

I envisaged whiling away the hours with friends, drinking tea and eating cake as we cooed over our babies, relaxing with a glossy magazine while my baby slept, enjoying long hot summer days strolling through the park, sun kissed and contended (me and my baby). I mean that’s how it is isn’t it?

Wrong! My moment of realisation came as I found myself battling with an every-two-hours feeding schedule. I was determined to breastfeed but my little baby was a very sleepy feeder, which meant that one feed could take an hour and a half, with a half hour break and then off we went again. I barely had time to get myself in the shower let alone out of the front door!

I felt quite a failure during those early weeks – the highlight probably being when the health visitor came round two days after we’d come home from hospital, for a weigh-in. Having just fed and changed, I laid my baby on the sofa to undress her and at that moment she projectile pooed a stream of yellow stickiness on me, the walls and the cream sofa (fortunately missing the health visitor). As if that wasn’t enough, this was followed by a big wee and then she was sick. I didn’t know what or who to clean up first and I just stood there, mouth agog, holding up my naked baby. By now I was convinced the health visitor would see right through me as a total fraud who simply couldn’t be trusted to be in charge of such as small, fragile being.

Fortunately, things started to improve. I eventually managed to get out of the house and plan my power-walk dash to the shops or the park in between feeds or bundle us both into the car and drive as fast as I could (safely) to our destination before my daughter woke up.

As an aside, trying to fathom out the supermarket with a baby in tow was another story altogether – no one tells you about the special trolleys that enable you to shop and have your baby with you at the same time. I only found out about these trolleys after my first trip when I’d taken my mum along to push the baby in one trolley while I ran around pretending I was a contestant in Supermarket Sweep with another!

I also got to enjoy some of the summer during my maternity leave drinking tea and eating cake with my friends – although my sun kissed and contented look was definitely replaced with a sleep-deprived pasty complexion and stress.

Six years on – in spite of all the stresses and strains of parenting, it’s been the most amazing experience watching my daughter grow from being a little baby into a beautiful, sweet, happy little girl (even if our lives are still dictated by her need to eat little and often – some habits never change!). Happy birthday little S!

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