It sounds so cliché, but I can't believe our little Ella is one month old already! Time has both flown, and gone by very slowly... mainly during late night feeds. Both Andy and I have learned a lot in this time, and we continue to learn more and more everyday.
The internet is both a blessing and a curse at this time, as you can find answers to any baby problem via google, however there is a lot of conflicting information out there. We've spent countless hours googling things like "how do I cut my baby's fingernails" and "my baby always leans her head to the right". The most consistent advice that we are given is to just do what works for you, which is both comforting and confusing at the same time. Sometimes you do wish that babies came with a manual that you could follow exactly so that your baby is always content. We are lucky in that we seem to have missed out on colic. When Ella cries she is either hungry, has a dirty nappy or wants to be cuddled, so most of the time we can solve the problem. That doesn't make it easier when her little lower lip quivers when she cries - heartbreaking!
I have read a lot of lists on the internet regarding parenting (ie "Five Things Never To Say To a New Mom") so I thought I'd write my own list:
Things We've Learned in One Month of Parenthood
- This article explained perhaps the most important thing we've learnt so far: A newborn and a baby are not really the same thing. When I used to think about a baby I thought about something that was probably more like six months old. A newborn needs sleep, cuddles and for you to change their nappy and that's about it. Even though you babble incessantly to them (my mom is great at this) the newborn hardly responds and you feel slightly crazy. A newborn also has no short term memory so it can be screaming one minute and then completely calm the next, which is a little hilarious. In one short month Ella has become increasing more alert. She responds to our voices and it seems like she is looking at us. You can even trick yourself into believing that her smile is real, and not because she's just farted.
- Breastfeeding. Oh my... This has been the most challenging part about motherhood so far. I definitely underestimated how hard this would be, and how painful it would be in the beginning. Lansinoh nipple cream is a must for any hospital bag (I didn't have any but luckily at Sandringham Hospital they gave me a few free samples). Everyone goes on about how breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, and while this may be true a few weeks down the track, it DEFINITELY hurts at first. I have yet to meet a mother who has said breastfeeding was pain free from the start. During my first day in hospital, one midwife kept telling me it shouldn't hurt (while I sat there in tears), however she didn't have any children of her own so I shouldn't have taken what she had to heart! Other midwives who were mothers assured me that this pain was normal would and pass. In the middle of writing this post I came across this article about what the first 48 hours of breastfeeding are like and it's pretty good.
- There are no nice nursing clothes; or very few; or they are really expensive. I wish clothing designers would realise that nursing mums would like to go out in public in nice clothes and also be able to nurse their babies with minimal fumbling around with their clothes. I've found button-down shirts are by far the best option.
- I don't think anyone takes the "sleep when the baby sleeps" advice, at least not during the day. It's so hard to do that!
- White noise is amazing as a sleeping aid. Originally we used it for Ella as she wouldn't sleep in our quiet, dark room in her bassinet at night. However, now I think we actually use it for our own sleep - babies are so noisy when they sleep. They are constantly grunting, sighing, squealing and moaning and you never know if they are actually awake or not. Usually they are not fully awake and by the time you get yourself out of your warm bed to check they are fast asleep again.
- A good breast pump will be your best friend. We invested in the Medela Swing electric pump and it's amazing.
- Newborns don't really need real clothes or cute outfits. They need onesies - and preferably Bonds Wondersuits with built-in, removable mittens and socks and two way zippers. Dealing with complicated clothing during the 9-10 diaper changes per day is just not worth it. I am looking forward to cute outfits when she is a bit older but for now I'm all about convenience.
- Breastmilk poo doesn't smell! Surely this is one of the greatest benefits of breastfeeding.
- When you live away from family your real friends are a Godsend. We have been so lucky with some of our friends who have come over and made us brunch, or brought a treat for afternoon tea, or travelled to our end of the city so we can have brunch in a nearby cafe. Some of our friends have just been so accommodating and lovely and I can't wait to repay them when they have babies of their own. I know most people are not interested in your baby, especially if they don't have children of their own, but these guys have been pretty good at faking it. Also, it's nice to still be able to have conversations about things other than babies with them. I love these guys and we would not have survived our first few weeks without them!
- However good your friends are, there is no replacement for grandparents. They are the only ones who think your baby is as brilliant as you do, and on top of that you are still their baby. As mentioned before, having my mom here has been the best thing ever, and I can't wait until my dad arrives next week. Unfortunately we have to wait until our trip to the UK to spend time with Andy's parents, but I know that will be just as special.
- And yes, it's true, you can't understand the love your parents have for you until you have your own baby. And you have to accept that they will never understand how much you love them until they have their own children, but that's ok.