My best friend S is due to have her first child at the beginning of June. She lives with her lovely fiancé, J and their hilarious Beagle, Juno. I have referred to her as my ‘wifey’ ever since we shared a room together at university.
To my dear Wifey,
Within the next month (hopefully!), you are going to begin a new adventure of motherhood and I’ve been thinking about writing a post in relation to this for a while, however Teaching Mum beat me to it! Ha ha! Jokes.
Still, you’re one of my best friends. We have known each other the majority of our lives: going through school, sixth form, university and teaching together. We’ve picked each other up from break-ups and made each other laugh until we cried (this will now become laugh until we pee a bit, thanks to the wonders of child birth). We’ve ranted to each other, criticised each other, fallen out, made up and everything else in between. All of those experiences have added a new dimension to our relationship and now, motherhood will be another thing we have in common.
At 34 weeks pregnant (as I write this), it may not feel like it – thanks to the aches and pains, the baby limbs sticking in you and the fact that you can’t see your feet…or other areas for that matter – but it really is a wonderful time and I’m quite jealous. You are experiencing something I have experienced but will never experience again – the first time. You only have one first pregnancy/baby and I am lucky enough to have the gorgeous Little L but I’ve done the firsts. The first time you do the pregnancy test, the first scan, the first time you feel a kick, the first time you have to get someone else to paint your toes, the first time in child birth…the list goes on. Yes, hopefully I’ll be lucky though to go through it again but second time round you’re already in the know.
As frustrating as you may be finding it, not knowing is beautiful. It’s innocent and blissful, with thoughts of family cuddles and gazing adoringly at your newborn. I remember being thoroughly frustrated that there was nothing I could do to prepare, particularly with breastfeeding. It wasn’t something that could be practiced, you just had to wait and see and that was incredibly difficult for me! You know I like to be prepared! Truth be told, you can prepared as much or as little as you want, until that baby is here and your get to know it, you can’t prepare because you have to go with the flow. From the moment the baby arrives, it’s in charge! Ha ha!
One thing I do know, you are going to be a wonderful mother. You and J will be wonderful parents. Yes, you will find it hard but anyone who says they doesn’t are lying. I can see the apprehension in your face and hear the worry in your voice when you ask questions. It’s endearing and sweet. You strive to be successful in all areas of your life, this is another, and I have no doubt you will be in your new challenge. You are a caring and sensitive soul who likes to make others happy and as much as these traits will aid you in your parenting journey (yes, I used the cheesy ‘journey’ analogy!) you must be selfish within the next few months and try to please yourself, baby and J first and foremost.
I told you the other week
“Listen to all advice but only take what suits you.”.
Here’s my few words of wisdom…
Be outspoken. Don’t be afraid to tell people how it is. If you’ve had a night of no sleep and crying (the baby and possibly you and J!), you don’t know your arse from your elbow and you want to hibernate with your little family for the day but you’re expecting visitors or someone asks to come round, say “No”. Don’t be afraid to offend because most will understand and those that don’t, don’t deserve your time. Alternatively, you say what goes regarding your child, so if you think they’re being passed about too much or someone wants to pick them up when you’ve just got them to sleep in the moses basket, again, say “No”. I remember being at a family party where L was being passed around from family member to family member, he’s just get settled then he’s be passed on. In the end I stepped in and settled him in his buggy. I heard the odd comment about being over-protective or something, but I ignored it. I was the one that would have to deal with the fussy, agitated baby later on.
Confront your feelings. Having experienced many women close to me suffering with PND, I was overly aware of how I was feeling and quite open about this. My husband knew if I was feeling sad, happy, stressed etc. I found that by being open about it, I was supported in the appropriate way. One of the things I love about you most is that you wear your heart on your sleeve, carry on with this as a mother. Say if you’re struggling, there’s no shame in it. Looking after a baby is bloody hard work at times, and very hard work depending on the type of baby you get so people need to know how you’re feeling so they can support you. Luckily, although I was tired, I was actually very happy most of the time and I’m sure you will be too.
Don’t be alone. When J goes back to work after those initial two weeks, don’t be alone. If you’re struggling to get you and baby out of the house, invite people round (under the pretence that they make the tea and bring cake!). I know our bestie B said that getting out of the house more the second time round was really helpful to her. Staring at the same four walls with only a non-speaking baby (and let’s not forget Juno but as we know, she’s not the best conversationalist!) to chat to can send you a little stir crazy. I was the same as B, I had to get out of the house or the days went sooooooo slowly, especially when you’re up in the night too, they all blur together.
Ask. If you’re unsure about how to do something, if you think they’ve got a bit of a temperature/rash/virus, if you think something isn’t quite working or you need some tips for possible things to try to settle/get them to feed or sleep etc. Just ask. I guarantee, people will be happy to help. In the first few weeks, my family/friends that were also mothers were amazing to ask for advice as they all had little tricks they’d used on their own. One was bound to work!
Finally do what makes you happy: breastfeeding or bottle feeding, sleeping training, co-sleeping, dummies or no dummies, routine or on demand. Whatever it is, whatever others opinions are, if it makes you happy then that is the main thing. After all, it’s true what they* say “Happy Mum, Happy Baby”.
(*I’m not sure who the mysterious “they” are but they are wise.)
I cannot wait to meet your precious little bubs and see you be an amazing mother. You’ve already tackled many bumps in the road during pregnancy and done so in a calm, level headed manner that I knew you will deal with whatever is thrown at you during motherhood in exactly the same way. You’ve trusted your body to house your child and protect it, now you have to trust it to bring him/her (him, in my opinion but we will see!) into the world. Never doubt yourself Wifey, you are one of the strongest women I know and you can do it.
All the love in the world, Becky. xxxx
**UPDATE** My lovely bestie had her SON on Wednesday 17th May at 2:20pm by emergency c-section. She’s already a natural with little Frederic James and I’m so proud of her!
If you’d like to read more about my lovely friend and our Core Four group, click here. I’m thinking of making “An Open Letter To…” into a monthly series. Do you like it? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or visiting my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.