A Word Of Advice

This time last year, I was slap bang in the middle of my second trimester. We’d settled into the idea of being parents and life revolved around scans, midwife appointments and shopping for prams. It doesn’t feel like a year, but here we are with an eight month old (I kind of dropped the ball on monthly updates on the blog, huh?). As much fun as it is, I do find myself looking back fondly on the experience of being first-time expectant parents.

Love- or at the very least, lust- is in the air around these parts. It feels like every week brings another pregnancy announcement (seriously people, how much are you having at it?). Every time I see one I get a wee buzz of excitement, even if I don’t know the person. First time parents have so much to look forward to, they don’t even know. Obviously having a baby isn’t the be all and end all. It’s not always immediate cause for celebration. It’s hard bloody work.

If you do choose to have a baby though, for all the hard parts, it’s pretty great. The worst part though? All of the unsolicited advice and intrusive questions. Shortly before my due date, I compiled a list of the most common things I’d been asked during pregnancy. In hindsight, with eight months’ parenting experience under my belt, I’ve put together  a compilation of advice: take it from someone who’s still muddling through, learning on the job. You’re going to be fine.

No one cares about your birth

I mean this in the nicest possible way. If you’ve attended antenatal classes, or discussed a birth plan, you’re probably aware of different birthing options. Whether it’s in a bath, drug-free, hypnobirth, epidural, via caesaerean or getting the ol’ plunger up in there, one thing is the same: whatever gets your baby out safely is what’s natural and normal for you. For me it just feels like another way of heaping pressure on expectant parents. People shoo away the notion of pain relief because they “want to experience as much as possible”. Personally, I opted for diamorphine and had a pretty thorough experience without feeling like I was being punched in the vagina from the inside. If you’re opting for pain relief it’s not wussing out. Giving birth without pain relief doesn’t make you a better parent (although hats off if you did). Giving birth via C-section is still giving birth. Your birth is personal to you, and if people want to judge by their own standards it doesn’t lessen your experience or make theirs any more valid. In the grand scheme of things, as long as parent(s) and baby are happy, no one cares.

Fed is best

Breastfeeding is hard. It takes practise. Considering the UK has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, there’s clearly not enough support out there. If you can make it work, and stick with it, that’s awesome. However if, like me, breastfeeding isn’t an option- or hey, if you just choose not to- that’s cool too. Championing one way of feeding at the derision of another isn’t cool. You don’t know someone’s story or circumstance. As long as your baby is happy, healthy and gaining weight, go with what works for you.

Just say no

This is the one piece of advice that I wish I’d take under advisement when Lucas was born. When we came home from hospital, all I wanted was a nice quiet day or so to adjust to our new life as three. This didn’t happen. For the next few weeks, into Christmas and new year, it felt like a constant procession. We never had time alone just to be ourselves. People mean well but, with the onset of baby blues, it can be a bit overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to say no if you’re not up to visits right away. Take your time, enjoy the first few days at home with your baby. Family and friends will still be there when you’re ready.

Take your time

One of the weirdest realisations about having a baby is that life goes on. I remember standing looking out of the window of the maternity ward, looking at the buses and cars going up and down the motorway, going to and from work as if nothing had changed. For us, our whole world had changed, but the world kept turnin’. Coming home felt like our little bubble had burst.

Since then we’ve bought a house, moved twice, I’m doing a phased return to work and looking at nurseries for the little man. I don’t know that the enormity of this year of change quite hit me until recently, until it hit me all at once. Change can be hard to process, and having a baby changes everything. Your lifestyle, relationship, body- everything. If you need some time to adjust, fine. You’re allowed to feel like change is hard to keep up with. Be kind to yourself- you’re doing the best you can.

Comparison is the thief of joy

Once your baby’s born you’re thrust into a myriad of milestones. First time smiling, laughing, rolling over, sleeping through the night, eating solids, cutting a tooth. Some babies roll over within a matter of months. Lucas was about six months before he nailed the ol’ back to front roll. Was I worried? No. It meant I could pop through to the next room without worrying. He still doesn’t have a tooth, but nothing I do is going to make that happen faster. Babies do everything in their own time. Looking at what other babies do- or don’t do- can send you spiralling into a tailspin of parental guilt (if you’re anything like me). Likewise, if another mum snapped back to pre-pregnancy weight, or if their baby latched on to the boob while you had to opt for the bottle. Ask yourself “does this in any way impact me or my child?”. If the answer is no, let it go. Parenting is a minefield of worry and the hardest thing to do is learn to pick your battles.

Enjoy the little things

It’s an old adage but it’s true. Babies are only babies for a short while. Before you know it, they’re actual real, independent, little people. I was guilty of getting caught up in thinking of the next Big Thing and trying to do as much as possible. As soon as I went back to work for a KIT day, it felt as though the last eight months hadn’t happened. Trying to overreach was just stressful. While I still like finding new things to do, it makes me appreciate chilled days more. I went along to a CBT course run by the NHS wellbeing services, which helped massively. If you don’t have the time or inclination to sign up, there are plenty of resources out there. Spending the afternoon in a library, getting some fresh air, not getting dressed til 11am, , writing down one thing I’m grateful for every day, even- gasp- putting my phone down helped massively. As did putting Lucas down for a nap, patching the cleaning and actually having a hot cup of coffee.

Take it in your stride

Like I said, people are only too happy to throw advice at you. Some of it’s helpful and well meaning, some of it isn’t. Most of it will be unsolicited. When it comes to parenting, everyone has an opinion, but only you know what’s best for you. Smile and nod. Very few of us know what we’re doing, but we crack on. You got this.

33 Comments

  1. Kayleigh
    August 15, 2017 / 8:52 pm

    Yes to all of this! My son took an age to sit up unassisted and I wasted so much time and energy fretting about it, I wish I had chilled out a bit more with it.

    • adriannecalgie
      August 15, 2017 / 9:39 pm

      It’s hard though- I worried a bit when Lucas didn’t roll over for ages. He could go front to back but took ages to go the other way. I think that was when I realised that worrying wasn’t going to make it any easier!

  2. August 16, 2017 / 8:11 am

    Brilliant post, with excellent advice. As a second time mum with eight years between mine, the second time was definitely easier having learnt these things the first time round.

    • adriannecalgie
      August 16, 2017 / 8:14 am

      Thank you! It’s hard with the first one because you’re literally learning on the job! If I had another I’d definitely be less harsh on myself.

  3. August 16, 2017 / 4:39 pm

    Amazing post! Couldn’t agree more with all your points. As someone who is overly self critical, your advice is so accurate! Taking time for yourself & not watching what everyone else is doing are both so important & things I can forget sometimes!

    • adriannecalgie
      August 18, 2017 / 1:02 pm

      It’s so easy to do though! People can be so braggy on social media, it’s just another way of putting life through a filter and parenting is no different!

  4. August 16, 2017 / 6:07 pm

    Great advice for new mums. I agree with everything you’ve listed, especially enjoying the little things. Don’t wish on the next milestone because they will soon grown up. My little one is 11 months old and it has gone so fast!

    • adriannecalgie
      August 18, 2017 / 1:05 pm

      Thanks! I feel like I’ve blinked and eight months have gone by. I feel like we’re gonna be celebrating his first birthday before long! I’m just happy going at our own pace. It’s better for everyone!

  5. August 16, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    Great post. You just have to follow your instincts at the end of the day but those early days with your first newborn can be tough! x

  6. August 17, 2017 / 10:45 am

    HI I LOVE YOUR WRITING EVEN IF IT’S ABOUT STUFF THAT WILL NEVER BE RELEVANT TO ME. DO MORE PLS.

    Um, I mean, if you have time and want to.

    Also, that photo of you and the wee man playing with bubbles gives me all of the feelz.

    • adriannecalgie
      August 18, 2017 / 1:04 pm

      I always want to (because I love writing and praise is dead guid especially from bloggers/writers I downright fangirl for), it’s just the time thing that escapes me.
      I say I’m working on it but I never do… need to just make better use of naptime huh

  7. August 17, 2017 / 11:24 am

    I agree that in the early days you should say no to visitors and just spend time as a family

  8. August 17, 2017 / 11:48 am

    It’s a great post – amazing how quickly you forget it all. Enjoy it while they are little x

  9. August 18, 2017 / 6:40 am

    Nodded the entire way through, couldn’t agree more. As soon as your baby is born and everyone knows the weight and gender, nobody cares!

    • adriannecalgie
      September 4, 2017 / 11:26 pm

      We knew the sex beforehand (by accident!) and even when you know, people still comment on it. I don’t know how many times I heard that boys and first borns are always late… mine was both and guess what, popped out ten days early!

  10. August 18, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    I’m currently expecting my third (I know.. mad right? haha), and I couldn’t agree more with some of these. Especially the one about saying no! I didn’t allow visitors for at least a week after my second was born, and it was bliss x

    • adriannecalgie
      September 4, 2017 / 11:22 pm

      Congratulations! I’d definitely be more firm if I were to have another- if three was a big adjustment four would be huge! I’m sad our first evening at home wasn’t as planned but then you don’t want to upset anyone or cause aggro.

  11. August 21, 2017 / 5:28 pm

    Great advice. Sounds very sensible. And your baby is totally gorgeous he’s such a cutie x

  12. August 21, 2017 / 6:29 pm

    This is awesome, I got so caught up in the over-thinking and seeing myself as a bad mother when I had my first because I was constantly comparing myself and my baby but when I had my second I realised how silly I was and how unnecessary it was because I found I didn’t have time for it now! Great post!

    • adriannecalgie
      September 4, 2017 / 11:24 pm

      Thanks! Everyone says that about their second huh? I’m already feeling like that, although I do get a little caught up in comparison sometimes and start worrying. What matters is my son is happy and healthy and developing at a good rate. He’ll be walking and talking soon enough!

  13. August 21, 2017 / 8:43 pm

    Your baby is so cute and I love your photography! I guess no one really gets it until they are actually a parent. I’m glad everything is going well for you!

    Meg x | the-writeblog.blogspot.co.uk

    • adriannecalgie
      September 4, 2017 / 11:21 pm

      Thank you! Yeah, even when I was pregnant I had so many grand ideas. The reality is pretty basic- whatever works, go for it!

  14. August 21, 2017 / 9:02 pm

    The whole way through I was nodding along. When I was pregnant I got conflicting “advive” from so many people that I decided to tell them thanks but no thanks when ever they tried… (the mother in law wasn’t too happy about that haha) I think the worst part is when people who have never experienced being a parent tell you you’re doing something wrong. I know my body, I know my child, I’m best qualified to make the decisions over saddle on the bus yapping my ear off telling me I’m doing something wrong.

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk I

    • adriannecalgie
      September 4, 2017 / 11:18 pm

      Whether people have kids or not, they don’t seem to realise that ‘advice’ doesn’t work the same for everyone! Whenever anyone starts a sentence with “you should…” I’ve probably already stopped listening, haha. Thankfully it’s not been as bad with a baby as it was when I was pregnant- that was endless!

    • adriannecalgie
      August 21, 2017 / 11:11 pm

      Thank you! As long as you realise that everyone is pretty much making it up as they go, you’ll be fine!

  15. August 22, 2017 / 2:57 am

    I love your writing style!

    • adriannecalgie
      September 4, 2017 / 11:18 pm

      Thank you!

    • adriannecalgie
      September 4, 2017 / 11:19 pm

      Thank you! The best advice really is just, you know what’s best for you, no one else does!

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