Having been a parent for 16 years, Janine Dunlop has some great advice for new moms.
Often, we gain
perspective from hindsight. Having been a mom for 16 years now, I consider
myself a veteran. Here are five things I wish someone had told me when I was
just starting out:
1. Buying baby food doesn’t make you a slacker
In my early
parenting days, I developed a penchant for masochism. Anything that wasn’t
lovingly crafted by my beleaguered, sleep-deprived self was just not good
enough. One of the habits that this belief fostered was making my own baby
food. Which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the pressure I imposed on myself
was crazy. I could often be found wandering slack-jawed and silly around the
kitchen, trying to cook when I should have been napping.
Take it from me:
just because you didn’t mix the ingredients together with your own, bleeding
fingers, doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. It means you need some sleep.
2. They’ll sleep, eventually
When Kid2 came
along, it felt like I had kissed a full night’s sleep - actually two straight
hours, if I’m honest - goodbye for good. As a newborn, she’d wake up to feed
every two hours, and then when she was old enough to sleep on her own, she’d
wake up in the middle of the night to trudge through to my room and stare
threateningly at me.
She’s now 13 and
she sleeps for whole nights at a time. One might say she sleeps like a baby.
But one would then be very much mistaken.
3. It’ll all happen, eventually
My babies were
champion crawlers. Walking, they weren’t so keen on. I waited 18 months before
Kid1 walked. Concerned about his lack of ambulatory skills, I took him to be
checked out by a specialist. The next day, seemingly just to prove how
ridiculous that was, he got up and walked. At 11 months, a paediatrician
declared Kid2 hyper-flexible and said she wouldn’t walk without physiotherapy.
I chose to bide my time. She walked unaided at 19 months. By the time Kid3 arrived,
I just waited it out: he walked at 21 months.
Here’s a tip
from a veteran: Milestones are for the birds. They won’t be crawling when they
reach matric. Eventually, they’ll learn to walk and talk and chew their own
food. Just be patient.
4. Your boobs will deflate
And then they’ll
inflate. It’s like a roller-coaster boob-ride. There was serious boobage when I
was pregnant. For the first time in my life, I loved those things. They were
big and sexy. When my milk came in, I looked like Pamela Anderson times 10. And
then I stopped breastfeeding. Out of nowhere, I had pancake-boobs. This was not
pleasing. I thought long and hard (for at least a day) about getting a boob
Someone told me
it takes five years to get the fat back into your boobs after breastfeeding. I
have no idea whether that’s true, but at some point, they grew back. They’re
not the same boobs as I had pre-pregnancy, but they’ll do.
5. Never put your hand down the nappy
tempted, just like I was. You’ll smell something a bit off, but you won’t be
sure. You’ll wonder if it’s the nappy. And your addled brain will tell that
it’s too much trouble to take the nappy all the way off and you should test it
by sticking your hand in.
Trust me when I
say: it’s a horror show down there. Just don’t do it.
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