What no one tells you about parenthood…

From the moment a pregnancy is announced, well-intentioned advice floods in like an avalanche and will continue for the remainder of your parenthood, which is essentially for the rest of your natural life.

 

The majority of the advice is golden. I listen intently, as I categorize the advice depending on the subject (sleeping, feeding, teething, product advice…) and tuck the information into my back pocket, ready to be utilized when the time comes ~ and the time does come!

 

Everyone is quick to tell you how little sleep you will have and counters the information by advising you to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’; or strongly recommending you not to hold the baby all the time or they will become use to your hands as comfort; or will tell you how baby wipes will become your savior and you will need and use them for absolutely everything (this is very strangely quite accurate)! Or people will be quick to offer breast feeding advice and clothing brand recommendations – these are all very valid and valued but as I am almost five months into motherhood, I have come to understand that while parents share a huge chunk of their knowledge, there is a great deal of information that is not shared or spoken about that is vital to the maintenance of your sanity as a new parent and as the saying goes… knowledge is power.

 

So here are the things I have learned that no one told me…

 

You may experience a disconnect with everything else

 

From the very first antenatal appointment, I filed in forms and answered questions to assess my mental health for any red flags that I was suffering from any form of depression. These assessments continue after the birth by the maternal health nurse and while these assessments are vital, as is the information around how and where to access assistance, there is very little discussion about the reality and disconnect of the settlement of life once the child arrives. This may lead to confusion about whether they are in fact suffering from postnatal depression. It is very normal to take time to adjust. There could be feelings of hovering between your pre baby life of work and the way you socialized and the relevance you felt in those situations and the new life of parenthood. It’s a grey area of transition that truly settles when the visitors slow to a trickle as everyone else continues on as before, while you are still navigating the new structure (and un-structures) of your world.

 

Everyone tells you to forget about work and just enjoy being with the baby ~ again very valid and comforting advice… but no one tells you that when all of the newness and adrenaline of the birth wears off, you may feel unsettled and lost because you were so use to a hectic and busy worklife that the hours of sleep the baby will grab will leave you twiddling your fingers trying to either get comfortable with the new (and short lived) time you have or your hands, or you will try and fill the time with something you will newly consider as productive.

 

With all new things, adjustment takes time.

 

 

Time disappears

 

No one tells you that at the end of the day, when you are sitting there in your pajama’s (not even the attendance of religious door knockers or the post man delivering your online purchase could persuade you to change your clothes), that you will suddenly feel pangs of strange guilt at feeling as though you have ‘wasted’ the day, even though you have spent the entire time feeding, sterilizing bottles and making new ones, changing nappies, soothing, settling, playing and educating the baby as well as cleaning the house and ticking off chores all the while you forgot to eat yourself.

 

No one tells you that you suddenly feel defensive when someone innocently asks you what you did during the day. In your head, polite conversation suddenly becomes an accusing interrogation and you potentially looking crazy or guilty trying to justify your time and you sound as though you did something far worse than ‘waste the day’ with the baby in your pajama’s.

 

 

Fear, Anxiety and Irrationality

 

No one tells you that from the moment the baby is born a switch is flipped to signal the end of your carefree existence ~ and I don’t mean being able to be spontaneous and head out the door with 2 minutes notice for a lazy day at a beach after an hour drive to get there (summer is clearly on my mind).

 

The ‘parent you’ suddenly becomes fearful, anxious and irrational.

 

Stories of attempted or actual kidnappings, sexual violence, murders, freak accidents ~ basically any news involving children could cause you to have an anxiety attack as though the news story took place next door and begin to map in my own mind how I would prevent or cope with these situations because I am now one part of a two-man team assigned to the safety of another person (think ‘The Body Guard’ – my husband and I are now sharing the leading role of Kevin Costner and my baby is Whitney Houston!).

 

And in the moment of any illness (suspected or actual ones) you could be gripped with fear of the worst case scenario and already have decided that you will be the organ donor of whatever the baby needs ~ even if it’s the common cold.

 

No one also tells you that you will spend the rest of your life watching your baby’s chest for movement of the lungs to signal they are breathing and if there is any moment that you cannot see it – for that split second your heart could feel as though it will fall out through your feet!

 

 

Showers become a luxury and a safe haven

 

If you thought remembering to eat would be challenging, you probably didn’t anticipate that a shower would be even lower on your priority list, or forgotten off it completely until your significant other asks when you had a shower. And when you finally get a few minutes to shower, it is the very best place to press pause and be in the moment of presence and just enjoy the peace of doing something completely for yourself and to breathe. Those moments also give you the space to refuel your energy levels and realign your perspective. A bathroom lock might also be a sound investment for your sanity…

 

 

Babies are already wired with their own strong personalities

 

There are endless pieces of advice on how to raise the perfect child and to mold them from birth. Yet, what no one tells you about is that from birth, your child arrives with it’s own personality and unique qualities that they have been developing and creating for the nine months they were growing before their arrival into your arms.

 

You often hear as part of relationship advice that you can’t change another person – the same advice translates to a baby. Listen to what they like, what they don’t like, how they like things done. Everyone wants to be the best parent with the best child possible, but in reality you are raising a person who will become what they are meant to be ~ allow yourself to learn from them and merely guide them with your morals and values and then watch them add onto those teachings and develop their own (even in their later years when you loss hope and think they didn’t listen or learn anything of what you tried to teach them).

 

 

Enjoy these moments

 

Everyone will tell you to enjoy these moments … and this is the most paramount advice I hold in my soul to be the truest of the true.

 

These moments are fleeting and time continues to move forward. Let go of the expectations that may cause you lessen the fulfillment and enjoyment you are getting out of this time. It’s okay not to have reason or answers to everything you do – sometimes the answer is simply ‘because’ and that doesn’t make you a bad parent.

Parent the way you want to ~ take thousands of photos; spend hours just watching them; leave the house work until later; feel okay to just sit and cuddle them because you want one not because they need soothing; put together a cheesy scrap book – not to embarrass them when they are 18 but because you want to capture all of their quirkiness that make up this amazing person you created and you want to hold all of these moments like an ever growing time capsule…and share as much or as little of it as you choose to!
 

Throw out all expectations of what parenthood will look like because just like every adventure in life, the experience will guide you and sometimes you just need to let go and ride the waves of the unknown adventure.

 

 

 

~ F.P

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Counting the blessings of today…

There are some experiences in life that fail to be adequately captured by words ~ parenthood is one such experience. While not all experiences are positive, we can choose the perspective of which we view things and a mere shift in perspective may be the line between a positive and negative in our personal world.
Today, I allow myself to be overcome with the blessings and gratitude in my heart and watch them overflow ~ that is the choice I make.

In the haze of the parental honeymoon period I have chosen to be completely present in the now as I squeeze my little, sleeping blessing tightly to my chest, feeling her heartbeat gently vibrate as a melody to my soul.

In this moment, I do not worry for the challenges ahead for they are a problem of tomorrow; nor do I dwell on the challenges of yesterday for they have been lived through and overcome.
I do not count the number of lost hours of sleep for I instead choose to count the number of smiles she gave while I watched her dreaming.
I do not count the number of times I drank reheated cups of coffee for I am instead grateful for the number of healthy feeds she consumed today.
I do not allow the memories of her few grumpy moments overshadow the many times she giggled today, the way her eyes sparkled at meeting new faces or as I watch as she listened to a new song.
I do not count the number of dirty nappies we changed today, I instead recall her playfulness of kicking her little yet growing legs and feel gratitude in my soul that she is growing actively as she should.
I do not resent the few times she called and sort comfort from mine and her Daddy’s arms, I instead embrace the closeness of feeling her heart beat against mine as I too take comfort in keeping her close just as I did when my internal body carried and nourished her.
In this moment, I do not count the numbers on a scale nor feel guilt at the hours I have not spent in a gym trying to reclaim an external body that existed before she did. I instead choose to count the many hours I spent playing, watching and soaking in all of what she is and what she is becoming.
And I thank her for reminding me of what life is truly about ~ about the simple things ~ about being present in the here and about being present in the now for in time I will have these memories created in these moments to look back upon to relive in my heart, with smiles, joy and an abundance of gratitude.
~ F.P

In honour of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day…

In this magical time of early motherhood, I am soaking up all of the many new experiences. With everyday I embrace and thank my blessings for all I have. Parenthood is not at all easy and was an absolutely life changing moment in ways I could never have anticipated. From the moment I knew of her existence I became a mum ~ a title I will carry proudly forever and a title I hold with privilege and honour and will work hard to uphold.

In this moment, as I sit here with my baby girl peacefully napping between being knee deep in teething and starting solids … I breathe in gratitude. There are some moments that are challenging ~ truthfully these challenges are where I learn the most of myself but I would not change a moment of them. Life is precious and can be taken without a moments notice and for this, I value all the moments – the challenging and the happy and all of the emotions and experiences in between.

Tonight in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day today (15th day of October) I will be lighting a candle. I will be taking a moment to hug my baby tightly and silently pray, through heaviness in my heart and tears for the many families that are hurting and continue to hurt over a loss; who live with grief, a grief that will never leave them. I light the candle for the many souls irreversibly shattered as they try to navigate life with their grief.

 

pregnancy-infant-loss

Today I am thinking of the many families grieving the struggles to conceive; the loss of pregnancies to miscarriages; and the loss of angels who were born sleeping. Equally, I pray for the families trying to navigate the first few months in a haze of postnatal depression, illnesses and various challenges. I will be praying for the loss of children regardless of age; and for the grief of families missing a member of their family who should be around to share in the joy of raising a child.

Everyone’s path is unique and equally important as well as everyone’s grief being equally as heartbreaking and devastating.

When my baby was a mere three months old, in the early hours of the morning, I came across the story and grief of one family that caused my heart, my eyes and my soul to swell in pain for them. It is a story that will never leave me.

The words of Natalie Morgan of her daughter Eleanor that was born sleeping are as follows:

“All I ask of you is when you have your dark moments with your baby – when you’re at your wits’ end and feel like you can’t go on anymore when you’re only getting an hour or two of sleep a night – instead of begging your child to go to sleep and wallowing in your frustration and exhaustion, say a prayer of gratitude for your child, as difficult as it may be in that moment.”

Everyday in tribute, I remember her baby and think of all the many beautiful babies that should be here but are instead occupying the heavenly gardens and playgrounds.

In this moment I acknowledge that their existence will be remembered always with love and peace for the world was made better for them having been in it, regardless of how brief their visit was.

~ F.P