Here are 10 things that I wish I'd known 8 weeks ago though. Or even 12 weeks ago when I was still working. Consider it my assvice to first time mamas:
- Keep working if you need to, and muster a "fuck off" face for anyone who exclaims at you still working. You won't be working still (at 32 weeks, or 38 weeks, or up til the day you go into labour) if you didn't financially need to and sadly money does influence how much women work during pregnancy.If you've made a decision, own it.
- If you don't need to, then stop as soon as you can. I regret continuing on to 36 and a half weeks to be honest, because the last 2 I was so miserable and sore and wanting to just focus on my bellybabe that I suffered each freaking hour. I also birthed at 39 weeks so didn't get the time I thought I would. But see point #1 cause that was the boat I was in.
- Cut back on everything else. Send your partner or your apologies to things without you. Become a hermit in any way that you can, if you can't disengage from work and study and other commitments.
- It's a good learning phase for what it's like to have a newborn to be honest, and now is the time to practice it and make peace with the guilt or upset you'll feel at not participating. But the mental benefits of it are huge and it's easier to learn it that way, instead of when you do something, exhaust yourself, get upset (lack of sleep is the BIGGEST dictator of how I cope at the moment) and then take 2 days to get over it.
- NOTHING is going to prepare you for having a babe. NOTHING. It is so mindblowing and all-consuming and just insane, in a terribly soft and lovely way as bluemilk has said. Sure the practicalities of it are learnable, the what to dress them in and how to respond to cues and how to tie a wrap. But the head stuff? Nup. NOTHING is going to get you through, around or prepared for that. But you can prepare yourself for *that* element of it.
- Know that you are going to have no idea of how you're going to feel and that you'll need people to call and cry to (midwife, friends, other mothers) because I think a lot of mothers will know what you mean and can tell you that it's normal.
- Be physically prepared. Have meals in your freezer, in small serves. Have extra baskets around the house with water bottle, nappies, nipple cream, tissues, book, lipbalm etc. Get lots of pads ready. Put dark sheets on your bed. Wash everything. Get some singlets and trackpants and socks and undies and slippers ready. Get a haircut and lots of convenience things that you might not normally get (face wipes, favourite toothpaste, nice soap).
- Do some work on your relationship beforehand and get some idea of each other's expectations.
- Get your partner to read Birth Partner.
- And step away from the computer!! Step away from research and planning and trying to be prepared for this. Embrace that you can't plan or write lists or pack anything that will prepare for all of this. And be ok with this.
You just need to get through the last few weeks leaning on the inner mama lion that you have. That's also what she's there for - not just to roar when your babe is here.
Lastly - the shit that I have with my relationship with my mother didn't come out during labour. I didn't stop labouring because of any issues I have. But I did get to a point where I acknowledged that I was terrified of being a mother because of what my mother was/is like. It's at the end of my birth story (yeah must post that), a few minutes before I birthed, where I went through a moment of doubt right before I did it and it caught me by surprise. I guess that really did mean I was 99% ok and processed.
Go for a walk, swim, massage, cup of tea and paper, whatever it is that you need to recharge your batteries. And take every day one at a time. Also good practice for labour and each contraction.