Seeing as my ‘things they don’t warn you about pregnancy’ turned out pretty well, and seems to have been fairly useful, I figured maybe it’d be good to do the same thing for life with a newborn. There’s lots of things they do tell you – prepare to never sleep again, you’ll see more poo than you’ve ever seen in your life, etc etc, but there’s also plenty that we just weren’t prepared for. Don’t be alarmed! It isn’t all bad!
- If you’re formula feeding, sleep might not actually be that hard to come by. At least in the early newborn days. We’re three weeks in and managing about four hours a night each, plus occasional naps, and sometimes we get longer. I’ve only pulled one all nighter, and that was through choice – I didn’t feel ready to sleep, so I stayed up and watched SB sleep. I can’t speak for breastfeeders, because I know they feed for much longer, whereas SB can polish off a bottle in half an hour. Which brings me to…
- Time passes very quickly. During pregnancy, every minute can seem like an hour. It feels like you’re just watching the clock tick, and the only thing you’re counting down to is the birth of the baby – which always seems to be ages away. With a newborn, you can feed them and feel like only five minutes have passed – in reality, it’s been half an hour, and you’ve just been lost in their eyes. (Apparently television might replace the ‘lost in their eyes’ eventually, but I hope not. I love the way she looks at me during feeds.
- Bodily fluids just do not bother you any more. As long as they belong to your child, of course. I’m not sure I could clean up anyone else’s milky sick, or sniff their nappy to check if they’re going regularly, but with SB? No problem. I was fairly squeamish before pregnancy. Now I’m cleaning up sick, pee and poop like a pro. It really doesn’t bother you when it’s your own (not sure I’ll be quite so blase about her poop when we start her on solids, but for now I’m focusing on the positives!). And finding dried sick on your arm/shoulder/hair/t-shirt? It’s nothing!
- Recovery is a bitch. Birth is meant to be the difficult part. Birth is supposed to be long and arduous and painful and leaving you with horrible memories. SB’s birth was absolutely wonderful (and I realise I’m very lucky on that score), one of the best experiences of my life – if not the very best. The recovery has been horrendous. Because she came out so quickly, not only is the tear nasty, but so are the many grazes I got too. And they don’t warn you about that. You hear the phrase ‘tear’ used so often, but grazes? You graze your knee, not your bits. I’ll never hear the word ‘graze’ in the same way again. What’s even worse? They put a voucher for a Graze box in the Bounty Bags. Insult to injury really.
- The appointments don’t stop. You thought you saw a lot of people before you had the baby? Think again. Between midwives, doctors, health visitors, people giving your baby hearing tests and heel prick tests and injections – you are going to see a lot of health professionals. One thing they all have in common is the ability to make your baby cry; whether they’re taking her blood or jabbing her with a needle or putting her on a set of cold scales so she has the irresistible urge to wee everywhere; they can all make her squeal. It’s all for the best though. Keep telling yourself that while you’re trying not to cry. That said, SB wasn’t bothered by her heel prick. She just sat there having a bottle. Food as a painkiller; she’s definitely taking after me!
There’s others, but I think they fit into categories that probably deserve their own blog posts – some people will still say stupid things to you, and things will still annoy you far more than they should