Yesterday I went to my first ever baby shower.
In my day it was never a thing. Now it is all the rage. I feel so ancient that I can say ‘in my day’ with no hint of irony. Good grief.
When we were there we were handed a book in which to write words of advice/encouragement etc to the new parents to be. I always find it hard when put on the spot, and I have been thinking ever since of all the things I would actually want to read were I a new parent to be and realising that what I wrote was mostly rubbish.
So here’s my second attempt.
Bloody hell! You are having a baby – really, really, soon. So just, Bloody hell! Because it is quite amazing the monumental changes that you are about to go through.
You will feel ‘Bloody hell!’ quite a lot in the days to come. Nobody tells you that, because saying it in a tasteful pastel covered book is not really appropriate, but it’s true. So, when you inevitably find yourself having a ‘Bloody hell!’ moment, please do not freak out and think you are abnormal, because you are absolutely not. We all feel like that. And it’s fine.
I suspect you may find yourself feeling out of your depth as well. This too, is completely normal. People talk about the ‘maternal instinct’ kicking in. Sometimes the people who say this nod wisely and look sage.
This is rubbish. Do not wait for the maternal instinct to kick in. Just go for it and accept that most of the things people tell you are absolute nonsense. Do what feels right for you. Do what feels right for your new family. Do what feels right for your baby. Be confident that your choices are the best choices, because your baby is your baby and nobody else’s baby and nobody can do this parenting job better than you.
You will feel tired. This too, is totally normal. It passes. You will manage. You will feel like you cannot manage. At three in the morning, pacing the halls with a wailing infant you will think of all the worse things in the world, and imagine all the other mothers and fathers snuggling down to wonderful sleep while their serene babies snore on into the night. This is also rubbish. You are joining an army of night time pacers, exhausted worriers and muffled sobbers. You will find yourself experiencing the dilemma of loving your baby more than you ever thought possible, so much that your heart aches almost all the time with how much love there is in it, and yet wanting to leave it in a basket outside a hospital with a note that says ‘please look after this bear’ while you sneak home to slump in a coma of exhaustion for a month. This is normal. You will not abandon your child. Your love will continue to make your heart ache and one day you will all sleep again and it will be awesome, and you will totally love sleep in a way you never did before. For which you have your baby to thank.
You will feel bored. Nobody really mentions this either. Much like the act of childbirth itself, the raising of a child consists of swathes of mind numbing boredom punctuated by extreme fear and extreme joy. This is O.K. too. Nobody will ever entertain you as much as your own child and all the dull bits are more than made up for when you find yourself laughing yourself silly or beaming with pride over something they have said or done. Do not expect to enjoy every minute of child rearing, but seize every moment of brilliance and wring it dry, and that will more than make up for the rest of it.
You will feel changed. You will be transformed by the birth of your child into two strangers who you have to get used to, two strangers who used to be yourselves and are now so much more than that. It takes time to come to terms with those changes. Try to accept them gracefully. This is not as easy as it sounds, as your child will have every method available at its disposal to push you to the maximum of endurance and the very edges of what you are comfortable with. But that’s O.K. because you are way stronger than you think, and way more resilient and flexible than you have ever given yourself credit for, and the people you will become are kinder, nicer, more generous and more humane than the people you were before, and you were already pretty alright.
You are amazing. You are creating a unique and perfect life which is a testament to the love you have for each other. Always remember this. And because you are amazing, and the child you have made with love is amazing, when you are together as a family, and you cherish that family above everything else that you have ever been a part of or will ever be a part of, you will be super amazing.
Laugh as much as you can. Life is funny, and complicated, and sometimes sad and frustrating and angry making, and sometimes you feel lost in the middle of it all, and it’s all so very big, especially when you are looking after something so very, very small and fragile as a new life, but as long as you can laugh together, you can survive everything life throws at you.
Love each other fiercely every day, no matter how tired and worn down you are, and how snappy you feel. Love your baby fiercely every day no matter how much carrot puree it rubs into the carpet and how much pooh shoots up the back of its neck. At the end of the day the love you have for each other is all that matters, all that ever mattered, and all that will be counted at the very end of the extremely long and happy family life you will share together. Never be stingy with your love for each other. The more love there is – the more love there is.
You are blessed. Truly you are.
I wish you every happiness, in every way and I know that you will be fantastic parents, and I hope you know that too, because if you do, nothing will go wrong and everything will go right.