To the first time mum-to-be,
It’s been a little over ten years since I found out I was going to be a mum for the first time. There’s been so much water under the bridge since then; two beautiful little girls, the heartache of miscarriage, the pain of family breakdown, a lot of tough lessons but a whole lot of laughter and joy in between. And now, a decade on? Well now I’m over half way through the journey of growing my baby boy. Third-time momma. My experience this time around, in my thirties, has already been so different from my experience of pregnancy the first time around. Not because I have been more sick with this little man that’s growing inside of me, but in how people have interacted with me as a mother. So I wanted to write something for you, that I wish I had read all those years ago. Partly to give you a heads up, but mostly just to cheer you on. You’re growing this baby, no-one else. You’re already doing a phenomenal job.
If you have announced your good news you’ll already be aware that everyone has an opinion on pregnancy and babies – and feels a duty to educate you. If it wasn’t all so conflicting it could almost be helpful! One day you’ll bump into someone advising you wrap yourself in cotton wool and batten down the hatches until D-day and the next day you’ll be scorned by someone else for being over cautious. Everyone does parenting their own way, just how everyone lives their lives their own way. And you’ll find your way too my friend. Sift through the advice and do your own research. Your baby deserves that. If it sits comfortably and makes you feel confident as an impending momma then go for it. If it sends off alarm bells, smile politely, nod and be on your sweet way. No one’s got time to be agonising over other people’s opinions. If you can graciously get through this season, even through gritted teeth, then you’re laughing. The opinionated advice-givers can sniff out the fist-timers, but they tend to back off when you have a little experience under your belt.
However you’re feeling at this point, it’s ok. It’s ok if you can think about nothing but the tiny life growing in your belly. It’s ok if you feel pretty matter of fact about the whole thing. It’s ok to feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing (95% of first time mums-to-be will admit they feel the same, the other 5% are lying). And you know what? It’s ok to be terrified and worried at times throughout your pregnancy (and beyond!) and have a million questions. First time mommas often feel like their worries are dismissed, but if it’s on your mind then it is valid and important. Go for it lady, be bold, or pushy if necessary, and ask your care providers those niggling questions. Be heard until you are reassured with the answers you need.
Mother Gothel’s famous song in Rapunzel, Mother Knows Best, had us doubting for a while. But don’t be fooled, there is truth in it. If you’re taking your decisions seriously for the wellbeing of your bubba and you accept sound advice from those that know what they’re doing, almost always momma does know best. Don’t forget that. Trust your gut instincts and have confidence in them. Whether it’s regarding your birth plan or intentions for beyond the birth, go with your own decisions. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first time mum as a teenager or later in life. I was only 22 when I had my eldest daughter and I had very little confidence to challenge something that didn’t feel right. I really wanted to breastfeed first time around and got off to a tricky start, which is not that out of the ordinary as its a learning curve for both mother and baby. Although I had made it clear that I wanted to give breast feeding my best shot, I wasn’t taken seriously. In that first night in the hospital, a nurse came into my room and offered to take my little bundle for a while so I could catch up on an hours sleep. I readily accepted her support as I gratefully dozed off to sleep for the first time in over forty hours. When the nurse brought my baby back an hour or so later she told me that she had fed my little girl some formula because she wouldn’t settle. And I didn’t say a single word about it. Why? Because I thought she must have known better than me. I wish I could go back and give my younger self a kick up the backside to stand her ground and be more vocal. Don’t be bullied into any direction that isn’t right for you or your baby. Please, for your own sake, don’t doubt yourself and make yourself heard!
You can do this. Even if you don’t feel like you can. Take help when it’s offered, it doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Listen to medical advice but make the choices yourself. Compare yourself to no-one. You’re the momma.
And you’re going to totally nail it.
Cheering you on from the side-line,
Mrs C x