Big sister advice: Part one

I often stop {usually in the midst of a reeeeally bad day when I have no patience and the kids are particularly feral} and think about what I have learnt on this job. This mothering gig. Seeing as day in day out no body really cares about what you know, or don’t know {seriously when I am I ever going to remember to take nappies with me when I go out?!} I like to stop and smell the roses and remind myself that I have, indeed, come a looooong way from that girl almost 5 years ago now. I do know stuff. I can {mostly} look after kids. Even though no one will tell me, I am doing a good job.

I often like to remember that girl and have a smug little laugh and just how clueless I was. About just what I was getting myself into. Consider this my big sisterly advice to those of you out there that haven’t started on this ahem, magical journey of parenthood.

Nobody told me it would be like this.

Boy do ALL the pregnancy books and stuff you read when you are pregnant prepare you for just that: the pregnancy. It’s all the stuff that happens AFTER that, that is the tricky bit. And by saying tricky, read the hardest thing you will EVER do in your life, (except of course if you run marathons or cure diseases or something hard like that). It’s like all those brides out there who become obsessed with prepping for their wedding without actually thinking about the whole marriage thing. I think it was the wise Dr Phil who said that you should prepare for the marriage not the wedding. So it must be true. Because he is a doctor and everything. You are prepped for the pregnancy just notsomuch on everything that comes after that. Like the child rearing bit. As I said, the tricky stuff.
Anyway, I was like every other first time Mum who was completely swept up in the whole growing a baby thing and thinking smugly to myself how clever my husband and I were for making a baby. A baby! I subscribed to all those emails that give you a week by week description of what the baby had done that week “See honey? I am tired because I grew some eye lashes this week!” and I read everything and anything I could get my hands on about being pregnant and giving birth. I soaked up all the attention that I was getting from everyone including the seats on the bus, the ever growing concern from my husband about how I was feeling every second of the day, to the chats from co workers about how I was doing. I loved it! Reveled in it! Basked in all it’s first time pregnant glory! Looking back it was just the members of my family and friends who were already mothers who smiled smugly at me as I passed on the charcoal chicken just in case I would get listeria. If only I knew what that smile meant.
Boy did I have NO clue. None. Not one. And that’s coming from someone who was a fabulous (If I don’t mind saying so myself) Aunty and spent plenty of time around other people’s kids. And that’s OK. NO ONE could tell you just what you were getting yourself in for. It wasn’t until 1 week being at home that I called each and every female I knew and trusted who had kids and said “No one told me it would be like (adding in possibly F***ing) THIS?!”. And each and every one of them spoke/look at me with that knowing look of concern that comes when you speak to a first time Mum who is home from the hospital living in a constant state of fear and said “I know. It’s hard. It’s really hard. But it DOES get easier. Promise.” I guess if you knew, if you really knew just how hard those first few weeks of being a first time mother were, then no one would have any babies. Yes, for some (read me) it was THAT bad.
For starters, no one asked me how I was anymore. It was ALL about the baby. The concerned constant calls from friends and family just 48 hours before disappear into thin air! Poof! No one really cares how you are anymore, except of course for your Ob who may be concerned whether your stitches are healing well, or that your uterus is contracting normally, or that you have passed your first movement. Even your beloved husband who knew each and every movement you were doing (literally…is it a show? Do you think it is the show? Could it be the show?) may remember to ask if you are feeling OK, but possibly only when he sees you wincing in pain as you attempt to latch on the baby for a feed while you have BLEEDING NIPPLES. It’s all about the baby. 
Then there was the whole recovery thing. I remember reading, or someone telling me but I forget who now (oh that’s just another part of having a baby – you lose your memory) and clearly get easily distracted. Where was I? That’s right. I remember someone telling me that recovering from child birth is like getting over a serious car accident but with no rest whatsoever. So the one time in your life when you really need to recuperate and rest. You can’t. It’s all kinds of messed up. You stand there, post shower, hair dryer pointed up the wazoo laughing at your self for thinking that being pregnant was hard. Giggling that the time you thought you were really sick when you had a flu was bad. At least you could rest then. And watch bad daytime TV. 

And then, just when you think things couldn’t be much worse, you are sent home with NO real idea how to look after the baby. I protested A LOT when we were in hospital that I was, indeed, not ready to go home. I may or may not have begged a few midwives that I could NOT go, and fortunately for me I had some bleeding nipples that were great evidence that I really did have NO clue. When the time came to finally leave, I wept. There was NO way I could look after the baby. I mean I didn’t have one of those clear cribs at home that I could wheel around for Christ’s sake! You look at your partner who is DESPERATE to get home to get some sense of normality back (and to get you back of course) and think “that’s all very good and well for you but I’M the one who has to do all the hard work from here on in. But you suck it up. And you are sent home. Full of fear. Pure, unadulterated fear. Oh and a newborn. 

Weeks pass in a fog of no sleep, Guthy Renker night time TV viewing, mastitis, breast pumping and bleeding nipples, fights with your partner at 3am that are reeeeeeealy bad, endless trips to the shops, mothers group meetings and endless cups of decaf (no screw that real) coffee. And then, weeks (nay months), that fog finally lifts and you look down at this little person that you have finally got to sort of understand, that you wonder how you ever lived without them. You are bursting with love for this little person that you can only stare in wonderment, big, chunky tears falling silently down your tired cheeks. You only then understand just why people do this. It’s worth it. Totally worth it. Worth the labour, the stitches, the fear, the sleepless nights, the loosing yourself completely. All of it. It just takes a little time to get there. Promise. I mean I went back and did it again so I’m not just saying it.


  1. Such beautifully honest words Beth.x

  2. On International Womens’ Day I salute you and all women…very well written, and a timely reminder of the power, strength, resilience,and inordinate ability of women to achieve greatness…especially as mothers.
    Proud Mamma X

  3. Ha! Excellent piece and no truer words ever said. I like the analogy with getting ready for the wedding, not to be married.
    The sleep deprivation was my killer. I feel aged by it!
    However like you went back for number 2. I say you can only lose your life once, and that’s with the first, so that’s a positive. 🙂

  4. PS – and that’s gaining ‘another life’. A different life, but one I can’t imagine any other way.

  5. Fantastic post 🙂

  6. … Will you be my big sister?

    I absolutely love this. Love, love, LOVE it!

    Thank you for being so honest x

  7. Oh man, can I relate to everything you have written.
    I think it’s like walking on the moon, you can vaguely imagine what it’s like but doing it is COMPLETELY different.

    I remember when I had a baby just a couple of weeks old, looking at people out on the street, having a carefree coffee and wondering if I’d ever do that again. I couldn’t believe the world was still turning when my world had been turned on its head.

    Fantastic post.

  8. An awesome post and timely on IWD, Beth. I felt exactly the same way and I confess that I still feel that way. The landscape just keeps changing with those bairns and we are left without a compass.

    Guthy Renker. That’s really all we need to know. x

  9. ahhhh i’m going through it all again with #2 (who is asleep on me now, with the house looking like a brothel!)

  10. ahhhh i’m going through it all again with #2 (who is asleep on me now, with the house looking like a brothel!)

  11. ahhhh i’m going through it all again with #2 (who is asleep on me now, with the house looking like a brothel!)

  12. Lovely honest account Beth 🙂

    I’m gearing up for #2 to arrive in about 3 months. Read: I’m just ignoring it all apart from having purchased some larger clothes and just thinking that I’ll have to cope when it happens. Not much point getting worried about it beforehand…

  13. As I count down to the arrival of our first bubba I LOVE this post, and your honesty.

    Thank you for sharing.

  14. Great post. Too true.

    My memorable line after baby #1 was ‘So, when does my life get back to normal again?’ It never did.

    I think I was such a selfish, carefree mofo pre my 2 kids. I would spend all Saturday ‘pottering’ and then feel ‘quite tired’ at the end of the day. If only I knew…

    Now, the only sneaky coffee I can have is about 20 minutes long while my 3 year old’s at a ballet class. I’ve learnt to drink rather quickly nowadays too.


  15. Gosh, you write beautifully!! And I’d like to know how you got inside my head and retrieved my memories?? All of it, so true – scarily, beautifully, absolutely true. And after three babies, with no more on the horizon, I say thank you, for saying it how it is!! xxxxx

  16. Are you putting together a little guide for your baby sis as she embarks upon her journey into marital bliss? hehe, just noticed this was ‘part one’.
    Oh, I’m hearing ya… sister of the inflamed boobie… NO ONE ever relays ‘honestly’, how teeth-clenchingly painful breast feeding is at first.
    I don’t think anyone ever realises the enormity of motherhood until they’re in the thick of it… but you have provided the most delightfully comprehensive rundown I think I’ve ever read :o)

  17. Exactly, perfectly, succinctly how I felt. Being the first of all my friends I feel the urge to try and prepare them, but then the words won’t come out. I don’t want to pop that pre-baby bubble. So, I just smile too and wait for the phone call on the first night home.
    So well written. have you thought about a book?

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