Dear Uju (circa January 2006),
Are you sitting comfortably yet?
Yes, I’m having a laugh at your expense. I remember how difficult it is to find any position that even resembles comfort during the last days of being a watermelon.
I’m afraid I don’t have any answers (although a pillow between your knees definitely helps at bedtime), but I’ve got a few tips for making that journey into motherhood a little bit smoother.
First things first, stop worrying about stuff unnecessarily. There’s so much you can’t control and you’ve got an entire lifetime to fret about your kids (long after they have kids of their own).
Put down your copy of What to Suspect when you’re Expecting and check out a blog instead. In fact, why not start one of your own? You know you want to and blogging will turn out to be a game changer for you, in more ways than one.
Stop comparing your bump to others, wondering whether it’s too big or too pointy or if that dark line down the middle will ever fade away. Your belly is beautiful and the people who live there will turn out spectacular.
Don’t be seduced/intimidated by those posters of blissful mums and their cleverly latched-on infants. Breastfeeding will be tricky at first, even downright tortuous at times but stick at it. You’ll grow to love it and it will help shift those pregnancy pounds (be careful about piling them back on after you wean).
Buy stocks in baby wipes. Seriously, you have no idea how you’ll come to rely on wipes for pretty much everything — from cleaning faces to cleaning house.
And here’s some great news from the future: JOHNSON’S Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes have been proven just as safe to use on newborn skin as plain water**. Very handy to know because you’ll find that a couple of soft wipes are a lot more efficient than dripping wet cotton wool all over your poor, shivery bubba.
Help is not a four letter word. Embrace it.
But forget about sleep. There is no rest for the wicked. And you are still wicked, mama, believe that. Ignore all those smug parents whose babies doze through the night from birth. Their luck will come back to bite them in other ways. That’s Mum’s Law.
Cut out labels. They make your children itchy and all the labels used by lazy journalists/pundits to describe everyday parents will make your skin crawl too.
Reducing real food to mush with your hand grinder will make you feel saintly inside. But it’s a bizarre ritual and an astonishing waste of time. Babies’ jaws are stronger than you think and your bubba prefers gnawing real carrots to sipping orange gunk off a spoon. You’ll learn this from your youngest, Jed, who will grow up much less fussy than your precious, puree-stuffed first born.
Someday soon you’ll be reduced to a rabid/sniveling/groveling wreck in a public place by an illiterate, knee-high dictator. Don’t take it too hard. You already left whatever shred of dignity you still had in the delivery room.
And finally, feel free to take or leave anything I say in this letter because at the end of the day, being a mum is about making it up as you go along.
As I’m writing this note, I overhear Ezra telling Jed, ‘I’m not a superstar, I don’t know everything. Not even mummy knows everything!’
You see? Your kids don’t need you to know it all, they just need you to be their mummy. And that’s one thing you’re pretty darn fabulous at being.
Your future self
PS But I’m serious about the baby wipes. Invest!
I have been asked to work with JOHNSON’S® Baby to write a “note to self” to coincide with their Mums Know Best campaign which aims to empower new mums and women in the last stage of pregnancy to trust their instincts and have confidence in their own convictions, supported by the groundbreaking new independent evidence proving that JOHNSON’S® Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes & Top-To-Toe® Bath are as safe to use as water alone on newborn skin. They have paid me to write this post.
Check out Real Mums on YouTube discussing the conflicting advice they get as parents and video footage of the Johnson’s Baby trial or visit www.johnsonsbaby.co.uk/safe