I remember being you.
In one sense it feels like yesterday that I was stroking my bump and trying to resist the urge to let my eyes dart to the calendar on the wall and count the days to my due date.
In another sense, the six years that have followed have been such a whirlwind of changing nappies, sterilising bottles, picking up cushions from the living room floor, and barking ‘IT’S TOO EARLY! GO BACK TO BED!’ when a child appears at the door at 5am, that it feels like it’s been forever.
But if I shut my eyes and really think about it, I can remember exactly what it felt like. The sheer volume of overwhelming advice, the texts pinging on my phone that demanded ‘ANY NEWS?’, the googling of labour symptoms, and the staring at a cot lying in the corner of an empty room and finding it very hard to imagine a little person lying inside it.
And if I take myself back to that room, all those years ago, here is the advice I would very much like to pass on…
1. Don’t ask the question ‘Can anybody recommend a buggy?’ on an online forum. You will receive approximately 74,000 replies, each telling you why their model is the absolute best. And after reading all 74,000 replies, you will feel like your head is going to explode. Instead, pick a mother of several children that you trust implicitly and ask her instead (she will probably have trialled at least 3 or 4 of them and have plenty of tales to tell). And failing that, simply walk into a large baby store, try a few, and pick the one that feels best. Just whatever you do, step away from the internet. It won’t help, I promise.
2. Stay in your pyjamas. Do this for the last bit of pregnancy – but even more so, for the first few months of your baby’s life. When your little person starts to crawl and then walk, you will find it very hard to stay within the confines of your living room for any length of time – and when that times comes, I guarantee that you will miss the pyjamas. And if they’re maternity pyjamas with big, wide, elasticated waistbands? Even better.
3. Don’t pack your hairdryer in your hospital bag. Greasy hair will be the least of your problems, believe me.
4. Dress your baby in onesies. Fashionable little outfits with several layers, shoulder poppers, and bows to tie might look adorable while you are pregnant – but in reality, they are going to stay in the drawer. Imagine getting a wriggling octopus dressed, while being totally paranoid about snapping all of his arms, while operating on about 2 hours (broken) sleep – and you can see what I’m getting at. It’s just not worth it. Stick to the onesies.
5. However sure you are that you have baby wipes in your bag before you leave the house, check again. And then again. It’s important.
6. Enjoy the cuddles. This one sounds a bit obvious, but when you have a newborn attached to you for 24 hours a day, you will start to fantasise about the day when you might be able to put them back down again. But believe me – in what seems like the blink of an eye, they will turn into a toddler that sits on your lap for approximately 4 seconds, before struggling to get down, stealing your phone in the process, and giving you glares from across the room as they work out how to video call their grandma.
7. Enlist help. You are an independent, feisty female, ready to take on the world. You can handle a baby! And I get it, because I was one of them once too, utterly determined to do it on my own (and then some). But the truth is that independent, feisty females still need sleep. And food. And wees and poos. And showers. And sometimes (shock, horror) a little time to themselves to stay sane. So if somebody tries to take that baby from your arms, whether it be husbands or boyfriends or grandparents or aunties or best friends or nannies, just let them. For a little bit, at least.
8. Take photographs. A little voice in your head will say ‘Am I taking too many photos of the baby? Maybe I should calm down a bit!” Ignore it. In fact, double your efforts. Those bow lips, and chubby wrists, and curled toes won’t last forever and you will treasure those photographs more than you ever imagine.
9. Slow down. Your newborn doesn’t need to learn sign language or be held in your arms as you dance around the room to piano concertos. There is plenty of time for that. For now, feel no guilt for sitting still and watching entire series back to back on Netflix.
10. You don’t need a nappy bin. Believe me. Once you remove it and bag it up, you aren’t going to want it anywhere near your house. Steal an extra wheely bin from a neighhour* and leave it just outside the back door so you can sling them out in your slippers (*just joking. kind of. actually quite a good idea).
Love from Louise x