By Steph Douglas
Is that girl drinking whilst jogging? Yes. Yes she is.
This girl is a winner. She writes a fab blog called Sisterhood. She also is the #mumboss behind Don’t Buy Her Flowers – thoughtful care packages for new Mums. We all love a bunch of blooms, but when you’ve just popped a new human out; magazines, dry-shampoo, Cook vouchers and yummy truffles are absolutely what you NEED. So clever. Properly one of those ‘wish I’d thought of that’ ideas.
And her kids are called Mabel and Buster (amazing). I’ve also seen her throw some pretty great shapes to some old-school garage. See? So much good stuff.
Heres what Steph Douglas wishes she’d know before she became a parent:
I feel a bit weird writing this as I know I am nowhere near ‘knowing’ all I need to know as a mother. This, however, is from someone who has survived the first years with two kids…
1.Shitting in childbirth is the last thing that will be on your mind when a human is coming out of your foo.
2.You may hear a lot about what is best for your baby. You will learn what is best for your baby and as your confidence grows, you’ll also learn people need to shut the hell up.
3. Breastfeeding isn’t easy for everyone and it can take some time to work it out. When a friend text me on day two after my first baby and said ‘by the way, if you’re finding the feeding hard don’t worry, I did too’ I wept with relief. I’d been hand-expressing droplets in to a pipette and feeling like a failure. And sure enough, we worked it out in the end…
4. …but if you can’t do it, please don’t torture yourself. Your sanity is pretty important too.
5. You may become obsessed with sleep – the baby’s sleep, your sleep, when you can next sleep and how much sleep everyone you know has had. Then one day, you sleep and wake and everyone has slept and it will feel like the best day of your life. It WILL happen. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.
6. Your partner won’t automatically know what to do and at times this can drive you mad. Write him a list and don’t feel weird about it; he wants to be useful, but he isn’t you and as much as you want him to, he often won’t work it out for himself. And he can’t lactate. In those first weeks make him your protector (keeping unwanted visitors away) and your feeder.
7. However, at times the way your partner eats/breathes might irritate the shit out of you. You might resent him skipping out the door to clown about at work while you try to figure out how to keep a human alive. BUT please hang in there – don’t underestimate how much tiredness and hormones will impact you and try to explain how you feel. At some point you’ll realise that actually you *may* have been quite tricky to live with at times (and he was probably a teensy bit tired too…).
8. You may think the term ‘date night’ is eggy, but you need date nights. Away from it all (and with a few gins down our necks) we very quickly realise that we actually rather like each other.
9. You are allowed time to yourself and while it might not happen when the baby is really small, at some point it can. It might be half an hour behind a locked bathroom door, one hour a week at a gym class or, eventually, a weekend away with your best girls. Your family will cope without you and you’ll return feeling alive and grateful.
10. One of the absolute joys of motherhood is that you’ve earned the right to say no to people and events. If it’s going to cause you huge anxiety, don’t do it. If the people involved are true friends, they’ll get it.
11. You are more resourceful than you think. If you don’t have all the stuff, you won’t die. I once left the house without wipes and had to wipe my son’s bum with my daughter’s cardigan. We all survived. Except the cardigan.
12. Your kid’s poo face is one of the best sights you will ever see, and continues to be so for some time.
13. Avoid signing up to terms of baby classes as you will inevitably miss at least half due to sickness/mis-timed naps so that cost per class ends up around £50. Pay-as-you-go is the way forward.
14. No-one knows what they’re doing. Some people sound like they do, some people look like they do and others really think they do. Every honest mother I’ve ever spoken to has said that they felt clueless at times, and that’s ok because you’ve never done this before. How would you know?!
15. If you find it helpful to read baby books and implement a routine, go for it – don’t let people make you feel bad for looking for help and like you should ‘know’ what your baby needs. Some people go with the flow, some want a structure. Just don’t beat yourself up if your baby doesn’t conform all the time. Babies are tricksy.
16. The Sisterhood has never been more important than when you’ve just had a baby. It can feel lonely, but the reality is that there are millions of women going through the same thing at the same time. Find the ones that know the right thing to say when you call them crying or worrying and hang on to them. Don’t feel silly or guilty because one day you’ll return the
17. If you can’t stop crying and feel anxious all the time and more than ‘just a bit down’, get help. Go to the doctor, find a support group, talk about how you’re feeling. Once you talk about it you will be amazed how many women you know have been through Post Natal Depression and it has nothing to do with what kind of mother or woman they are. It happens.
18. If there’s another mother that makes you feel bad or incompetent every time you see her, don’t see her.
19. Some people lie. Their child probably wasn’t potty trained at nine months and they probably weren’t having the best sex of their lives four times a week for the first year of their child’s life. Ignore those people and find some lovely non-judgey ones who will laugh with you about your pyramid-teabag boobs.
20. People forget. One day, you will take your child to the toilet and they’ll say ‘I can go on my own Mum’ and you’ll feel a bit weepy that your baby isn’t a baby anymore. And then you’ll think ‘hang on, I’ve wanted to go to the toilet on my own for four years, this is a GOOD thing’ and you’ll start to understand how people forget and say daft things to knackered new mothers like ‘you’ll miss this bit’. All the sleeplessness and firsts feel like a huge deal when it’s all new, but very soon you’re through it and on to the next phase and everyone has survived and you remember all the lovely bits like the smell of your baby’s head and their beautiful lips as they slept in your arms. This is the point when you should probably stop and pat yourself on the back.
It took many weeping fits, anxious car trips and shouting matches to figure out any of the above. We all learn from our mistakes and our successes and we get there in the end. But the biggest, BIGGEST lesson I wish I’d worked out quicker and all new mums need to know is to be kind to yourself. You have done a massive thing. You grew a person! Hopefully you have people around you that will support and care for you, but you’re the only one that can give yourself a break when it comes to the guilt and anxiety about getting it all wrong or not being good enough.