Whenever I thought about how I would bring up my children, certain things crossed my mind of what I would and wouldn’t do. It made no difference to me whether that was someone else’s choice, but for me, that’s how I wanted to do things. However, it didn’t take long before I realised everything doesn’t always run to plan.
Recently I’ve overheard people comment on how they plan to do things when they become parents. Although I didn’t say anything at the time, this is what’s inspired this post. Here’s some of my top motherhood plans vs reality in my own parenting world…
1. The birth plan: “I think I want a waterbirth!”
Thankfully, I never made a birth plan. In fact I never intended to make one… And if I had, I don’t think a 28-week, blue-light ambulance to a hospital 50 miles away would’ve really been on the cards! Nor steroid injections, a c-section, hemmorage or a tiny prem baby. But that’s how Lily made her entrance into the world. Truthfully, I don’t think I know one single person who actually successfully made one, and stuck to it. Every baby seems to want to make its own journey into this world, and there’s no way of finding out how they plan to travel before they do! I admit to reading every maternity book under the sun. Clearly that was a mistake too. We even booked onto antenatal classes… of which we made it to just one (ironically, the ‘if things went right’ class!) before things started going slightly wrong!
2. Baby-wearing: “I’m going to wear her everywhere!”
I dreamed of carrying her around everywhere in a sling. One of my first purchases was a mai tai baby carrier and I practiced putting it on using teddy bears (yes, I know, sorry!) around the house. A near 7 week prem baby had never crossed my mind, so putting her in a sling inevitably just landed her in a little tiny bundle at the bottom. Her teddies were bigger. The straps didn’t account for her size, so there was no support, and although I wore her all day for a couple of outings, I became more and more concerned about her spine! At home she slept on my chest day and night (the only place she would actually sleep for many weeks!), and when we went out she was so light that I didn’t mind carrying her anyway.
What I didn’t account for in the original ‘wear-her-everywhere’ ideal was the sheer amount of stuff you carry around for a baby too. Even when she was a better size, I’d still end up taking the pram to ensure the changing bag, nappies, wetwipes, muslins, feeding accessories and whole array of necessary favourite toys were transported. Plus it also meant I’d have somewhere to put the shopping. Even just popping to the local shop for milk, carrying a baby in a sling, with your purse, a muslin, your keys, and then your shopping too, it gets awkward and heavy – particularly as once Lily worked out how to wriggle, she never stopped. We love going for little walks with her in the sling, but with a nosy, wriggly baby, my long walks into town each day are pram-based!
3. Sleeping arrangements: “She’ll be in our room til she’s at least 2 years old!”
The midwives all suggest keeping your baby in your room for the first 6 months. I wanted her with us for at least a year, maybe more. With a very prem baby, and her tiny size, I thought she’d fit in her Next2Me crib for far longer than I hoped. We made it to 8 months before it started getting dangerous thanks to her nighttime rolling and nuzzling the gap between the bed. Having the side up after so many months of being joined to our bed just panicked her, then seeing her contently stretched out in the big cot at my mum’s made me realise I had to take the plunge. I think it was much harder for me than her – she slept as normal, gone when her head touched the pillow, while I spent the night monitor-watching.
It may have broken ny heart to move her but now we’ve realised it’s the best decision – we no longer disturb her when get up in the night or the mornings, so she sleeps better and wakes up a happier baby, plus has helped her settle herself a little more without me jumping to check on her at every noise.
Though saying that, there have been several times I’ve slipped her into bed beside me in the early hours, just for us all to catch a but more kip when she’s been unsettled. I may be hanging off the bed, balanced precariously on the edge, while Lily’s stretched out across 2/3rds of the bed, her chubby fist resting in my face… but there’s nothing like watching her eyes open in the morning and giving you a beaming smile as she realises she’s woken beside you.
4. Dummies: “I won’t give her a dummy…”
I was always sure I’d never give my baby a dummy. I’m not sure why I was so against it, but as something never remember having as a child, I never considered necessary for my own. Well it took less than 2 weeks for that to change. She wasn’t even due for another 4 weeks and already had one in her mouth. It helped settle a colicky newborn… If she was happy, so was I. Two months later she had decided she no longer wanted her dummy and would spit it out. It had done it’s job when she needed it in the early stages and then she’d made her own mind up that she didn’t want it anymore.
5. Following advice: ‘Sleep when baby sleeps’
Haha, likely chance! When ‘baby sleeps’ that’s usually my cue to do everything I can’t do when baby is awake! Clean, wash, pee, drink a hot cup of tea…! For the first couple of months even if I wanted to sleep when baby slept it was impossible as she would only sleep on me anyway, so even at night I’d be wide awake in bed in the pitch dark, propped up on various pillows so this tiny bundle couldn’t roll off, fingers numb from the awkward angle my neck was at, but didn’t dare move in case I’d wake her up (Sorry anti co-sleepers, it was the only way for a little peace in the dead of night!)… but now at 9 months ‘baby sleeps’ is the time to get that kettle boiled, while you get all the chores done around the house. By the time she wakes up, the forgotten cuppa has usually gone cold, but at least the thought was there…
6. Baby-spam: “I’m not going to be that mum who posts loads of baby photos.”
Ha, yeah, I clearly failed on that one! Lily continues to surprise me every day. I’m so proud of her, everything she’s done to prove everyone wrong from the moment we found out she was going to be prem… and I just can’t help but share this! My other excuse is I’ve family and friends all over the country who I don’t get to see often, but all demand photos! But either way, her little face brightens my day and if her cheeky smile can make just one other person smile that day, then it was worth the share 🙂 so, like it or not, Lily-spam will probably be here to stay!
In the end…
I came to the realisation that every baby is different and more often than not, she is the one driving our parenting – we’ve just got to make sure we steer her in the right direction at times! Every stage is a learning curve for both Lily and me, and so if I can just make her smile and laugh every day, then that makes every bump in the journey that is motherhood completely worthwhile.