This week I’ve met up with lots of my wonderful mummy friends (over coffees of course!) and realised that the best advice/support and sense you can get from anyone is a mum with a baby. Even better, one with a baby just a month or so older than yours.
Sound advice is hard to come by. There are sources at your finger tips, mainly books and health visitors, but their value I question.
Books. The Book is going out the window once and for all. The Book does nothing apart from make me agonise over straightforward feeding/sleeping/buying baby things decisions. Since becoming a mum when did I decide to forget common sense and listen to The Book!? Well I’m over it now.
The Book said put baby2011 in his cot awake to settle himself. He wouldn’t, I felt a failure. It said to keep trying and he would settle. Urm, was that a flying pig!? And using the dummy to cut out a night feed, apparently by day 3 of using the dummy instead of feeding he won’t even wake up! Pinch of salt please.
I used to agonise over why he wouldn’t settle in his cot. Why my beautiful boy wouldn’t breast feed when I was out and about. The Book at first was a crutch. It gave me and my wonderful husband something to refer to. But now I realise it’s not gospel.
Health visitors. The first one that came to my house was a nut case. Lovely, kooky (think phoebe from Friends) but sharp as a knife. She wanted to use the upstairs loo, have a snoop, and then did a thorough birth debrief and weighed my gorgeous new baby2011. She was great. Gave me confidence in my new job and made me smile and realise I was very normal to be overwhelmed.
After that initial visit when I was just home from hospital I had to go to a drop in clinic at a childrens’ centre down the road to meet the health visitor. Daunting.
The first time I went, I didn’t know how to put the buggy up properly, and then when I finally left the house my cat followed me to the main road. I had to turn around, go back home and coax the cat back into the house with a bit of ham. Ludicrous. I finally arrived at the clinic, baby2011 slept like a dream, the centre smelt of finger paints and the ghetto blaster in the corner played the wheels on the bus. Every parent there looked like they knew what they were doing. I cried.
What had I done? I was a mum, I wasn’t cut out for this! The other mums all looked so natural, had nice maxi dresses on and blow dried hair. I hadn’t a clue.
I was called through to see the HV. She asked if I had any questions, urm, how long have got lady!? I gave her a watery, puffy faced smile and “confessed’ that baby2011 would only sleep soundly at night when in my arms at night. To cut a long lecture short the words spoiling and rod and back were used. Wonderfully, once I’d stripped baby2011 down to his birthday suit to be weighed she turned her back to us…baby2011 delivered a spectacular wee all down her back. She didn’t notice. He was weighed, he was fine, I asked no more questions, we left. Baby2011 still sleeps in my arms when he won’t settle in his cot. The world has not ended.
Being an HV must be the toughest job ever. Different mum’s all facing such a daunting task. We must all look like rabbits in headlights-thats normal for them. They all say to trust your instincts. And to be fair, that’s awesome advice. I went looking for a user manual and that’s ridiculous. Parenthood is trial and error and going with the flow.
All my breast feeding, bottle feeding, waking in the night, nappy cream, weaning, dummies, room temperature specific questions have been pondered by my wonderful mummy friends.
I live on a daily cycle of freak out…then calm…freak out…then calm. So do my mummy friends. Each of our worries and sometimes dramas once talked through and with some common sense applied dissipate.
You’re the mum (or dad, conscious I don’t say dad!) and they’re the boss. Once you know them, like a friend or relative you know how to play them and indeed when to worry.
That’s why baby2011 has a sleep suit with “The Boss” emblazoned on the lapel. And why I drink white wine and my phone bill has just arrived…£94.62. Yikes, let’s hope dad2011 doesn’t get cross.