The roller-coaster ride that was life with a newborn already seems like light years away at a distant time in my past. In reality, that sharp learning curve began only seventeen months ago when my first child was born. But the months have whizzed past me at a million miles an hour, despite the minutes sometimes ticking excruciatingly slowly in those sleep-deprived wee small hours with a crying babe.
Now, as I prepare to embark on that crazy rush of a journey all over again, I am trying as hard as I can to recall the best and the worst of times. At the end of next month, when our second child comes into this world, I should be a little more prepared than I was the first time round. I should be more confident, braver, and more knowing thanks to the lessons I have learnt – surely?
I have no doubt my two children will be very different from each other. Of course, they will be keeping me on my toes, and each of them their very own person. But there must be some aspects of life with a new baby that will be easier because I have already been down this milk-stained, sleepless road before.
I have tried, I think, to bury the hardest times beneath layers of happy rose-tinted memories of cuddles and baby-soft skin. But that’s not helpful. I want to try and remember the tough times and the trials as well as the magic of falling in love with my child.
I have learnt more in the last seventeen months than in the last three decades. I don’t want to remember all the lessons, I don’t want to forget others. Here though, are the lessons I have learned are most important to me, as I get ready for another round of this terrifying but magical journey that is motherhood.
1. I will trust my instincts
No-one will know my baby better than me. I will listen to her, and I will believe in myself. I will know her, I will know what she wants and needs, and I will trust my judgements.
2. It will get easier
It might take six months, but one evening, my little girl will go to bed easily. She will sleep for much of the night and so will I. In those quiet dark hours before that happens, I will remember that it will get easier. In those long days when I can’t settle her and I’m not sure what is wrong, I will tell myself that this too shall pass. In the meantime, I will keep trying my best.
3. I will feed my baby in the way I believe best
I hope to breastfeed again, but I will not exhaust myself and put undue pressure on myself to do this exclusively. I want my daughter to take bottles from her father from a couple of months of age. Perhaps this will give me a much-needed rest, perhaps it will give me precious time with my beloved toddler. It will do no harm. When it comes to solids, I will introduce food at the pace that suits me and my baby.
4. I will make the most of the early days
And the days that follow. I won’t worry about laundry and tidying and reading up on the best parenting methodologies. Instead, I will cherish the moments that pass too quick and we will never get back as she grows too fast. I will hold her as much as I can, and I will ignore the chatter about forming bad habits or spoiling a baby. While she is baby enough to fall asleep in my arms while blissfully oblivious to the world around her, that is what she will do. You can’t spoil a baby.
5. I will cherish the feeling of being the luckiest person in the world
because I am a mother.