Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Annoying things people say when you've had a baby: "Trust Your Instincts"

God knows I'm trying!
I found this advice extremely frustrating. As an only child who grew up without being surrounding by children, and as an adult that had held only a very small handful of babies, I honestly didn't have a clue where to start.

I remember being rolled into NICU in a wheelchair to see Baby Britney (BB) for the second time, with me looking like Princess Margaret after the 'bath incident' only sadly, without having consumed any gin.

They passed BB to me to feed and I managed to a) let her head snap back (so terrifying, those wobbly heads) and b) choke her on the bottle teat simultaneously. I squeaked feebly: "I've never fed a baby before!" and dissolved into tears.

"You'll just know what to do!" well meaning people had said to me. "Nature is amazing!"

Well, nature is a wonderful thing. I was filled with a fierce instinct to protect her and care for her, no doubt. But when she was screaming endlessly in the middle of the night, no instinct told me how to soothe her. When she was awake hour after hour after hour, no instinct came to my rescue with a magic sleep solution. In those circumstances you can just cuddle and whisper and kiss and ssshh and pat...and download as much tv as you can onto your iPad.

Maybe if you're an earth mother type something does 'click' and you feel like you've been doing it all your life - I am not one of those women. And if you talk, really talk, to other mothers, many of them will confess that they're not either.

This blogger writes beautifully about what it's like becoming a parent and instincts when she says:

"Dr Spock told a generation of women that they didn't need to learn how to look after their babies, that it was instinctive and that they knew more than they thought they did. He was completely wrong. When you have no proper experience of babies, as most of us don't, and one arrives in your house, it is like suddenly being asked to re-sit your final school exams. In Russian."

As a good friend said to me: "You WILL be okay, it IS tough, it IS hard, every hour is an amazing achievement, there is NO induction manual, you have had NO training, you are doing the very BEST that YOU can possibly do... You are being a mother for the very first time - and that is true every single day."

Cling to friends like these, the ones who tell it like it is, who are honest. Whose instincts didn't suddenly take over and save the day.

They will save your sanity.

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