5 Things Nobody Told Me About Motherhood

22 Jun 2017

When you announce that you're pregnant, everyone seems to become an expert on babies and being a parent and they have all the top secrets, tips and tricks. You read all the books, go to antenatal classes and everyone you meet gives you (mostly, unsolicited) advice. You're warned about nappy explosions, sleepless nights and tantrums, but there's more than a few things I wasn't told before becoming a Mother too.

5 Things Nobody Told Me About Motherhood

001. Everyone tells you to nap when your baby sleeps, but you'll probably just lay awake staring at them.
I'm no stranger to napping when Willow does, in fact I relish being able to go for a couple of hours sleep when she goes down for her lunchtime nap, but it hasn't always been this way. In those first few months, sleep can be really short lived. I used to pop Willow down for a sleep and she'd be awake again within half an hour; I don't know about you, but it takes me a while to fall asleep, even when I'm shattered, so most of the time she'd wake up just as I was finally drifting off. In the end, I started to spend the time just lay next to her instead. Watching her sleep, checking her breathing, listening to all the cute baby noises she made. Even now, when we bed-share, I still love to just watch her sleep and those long deep peaceful sighs she still makes in her sleep, make my heart burst with love.

002. Going out on your own with your baby for the first time is one of the scariest things you will ever do.
In the UK we're lucky that as well as maternity leave for mamas, we also have paternity leave for dad's/mum's, which is two weeks. In those first two weeks it's like you live in a little bubble, your family altogether, spending every waking (and sleeping) moment together. When they go back to work it's a whole different story and you're very much so still in that new and nerve wracking 'learning' stage of being a parent. When I first took Willow out on my own after my partner had returned to work, it was sheer panic! Did I have everything? What if something happened? What if she cried?! What if I couldn't do it alone? Thankfully, you'll soon learn that it's not as scary as it feels and each new trip out gets easier and easier. You'll soon be a pro at solo days out with your little ones!

003. Wind and constipation are your baby's worst nightmare and you will spend every night Googling how to help them.
Willow has horrendous wind as a newborn and it was pretty bad up until she was around 5 months old. It wasn't bad enough to be diagnosed as Colic, but it was bad enough that we would spend our days on the verge of tears of sheer frustration, because all you want to do is relieve their pain. We must have spent hundreds of hours Googling for tips and advice and actually became quite well-versed on all the different ways you can alleviate the pain for them. Tummy massages, cycling legs, a drop of cool-boiled water and our favourite trick, holding her in the squat position - this worked so well, that most times, within a minute she had filled her nappy and was happier again! It's not all bad though, we ended up giving Willow the nickname 'Windy Willow' and I fully intend on letting this slip the first time she brings home a boyfriend/girlfriend.

004. You will worry everyday for the rest of your life.
Parents can be fiercely protective, but since becoming a Mother I've found I'm not only protective, but I worry, so much more than before and more than I even realised was possible. You worry when you leave the hospital homeward bound, what if we can't look after her alone? You worry when feeding them, what if it's not enough/too little? Are they wearing enough clothes? Is the temperature right in the bedroom? You worry about how much sleep they're getting, about strangers touching them without scrubbing their entire body with bleach first, and you worry what the future holds for them.

You want the very best for your little ones, so it's easy to let your mind wander and think about what is ahead of them. I often worry about how Willow will manage at nursery when she is 3 (we don't plan to put her in nursery until then), if she'll make friends at school, if she'll even like school or if she will find it a struggle. Will she have the same aspirations for her future that I have? What if something happens to her? We live on a beautiful planet with so many positives - but there are dangerous people out there that we can't always protect our loved ones from. My biggest worry? What if something happens and I can't look after her anymore, what if I'm taken from her and I can't protect her anymore? I get the slightest sign of a cold and I'm planning my will and writing letters to her future self 'just in case'. I have never appreciated life and being alive before, like I have since becoming a Mother.

005. Your baby might be not be the devil in disguise after all...
One thing people drilled into us when we were pregnant, and even now that Willow is 17 months, is how terrible children can be. Tantrums, biting, hitting, throwing food, refusing food, not sleeping, disliking new people, always hyper, a terror when out and about. When do we talk about the positives? When do we praise all the little things? We spent our pregnancy talking about how we'd manage all the negative bits, the hard bits that everyone assured us we were guaranteed to go through - and guess what? Willow is the exact opposite. Every baby and every family is individual. No two experiences will be the same. We always call ourselves lucky; lucky that she sleeps so well, eats so well, is so happy around new people, that she never cries, that she is happy to do absolutely anything. When we talk to other parents I find myself actually apologising for 'having a good baby' and I always say "We'll pay for it when she's older!" or "Our next baby will be a terror!". Realistically, we're not lucky - we're just as we are.

Is there anything you weren't told about Motherhood?