Reality check for new moms
Don’t believe every fairy tale ever told about having a baby.
Like most first-time moms I spent nine months picking out baby names, a colour scheme for my nursery and buying cute little outfits with matching booties. I visualised how my baby and I would bond while breastfeeding; how he would gurgle with delight as I sang to him at bath-time. Your basic Johnson&Johnson TV ad.

Of course, reality turned out to be somewhat different. My little baby boy was fussy from the word go. Hated the bath. Abhorred the massages. Cried almost all the time. Breastfeeding was excruciating. Far from being the blissful bonding session I had envisioned, it was sheer torture. I would break out into a sweat, tears filling my eyes as he struggled to latch onto the breast. Then, when he had finally figured that out, he did so with gusto – performing oral aerobics and yoga stretches while maintaining a vice-like grip on the nipple. I was in agony.

Following the book

Then I started worrying about his sleep pattern. The book said newborns should sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day. But my little guy must have missed that chapter. He started sleeping less and less each day. He slept only on his father's shoulder or while he was being cradled in my arms. Putting him down resulted in Nightmare on Our Street.

I cut out alcohol, chocolate, bread, basically all the major food groups on the odd chance that it was affecting my breast milk and giving him cramps. My family started mentioning the dreaded c-word (that's colic, for those uninitiated) – every new mom's worst nightmare – and started giving me all sorts of confusing advice.

Doing it Mom’s way

The paediatrician then diagnosed reflux as the cause of distress and baby was promptly put on medication. But the real turning point came when I decided, screw the books and advice, and abandoned all attempts to regulate sleeping, feeding and bathing in favour of my sanity and his happiness.

Surprise, surprise, he immediately seemed calmer and all was much more contented on the home front. As another mom pointed out, a new baby is at times more wonderful than you thought it would be and at times, even worse than you ever thought it could be.

Sometimes you think unthinkable thoughts

A friend confessed that she once went into the garden with a glass of wine and left the screaming baby alone inside. Another mom recently told me how she had forgotten how rough the first six weeks were. I believe her, because I have already forgotten about the horrors of labour, which was only weeks ago.

Perhaps it is nature's way of ensuring the survival of the species. Because if we really knew how tough it could be, perhaps fewer people would have kids – or at least be more serious about birth control. But I don't know of a single parent who regrets having children.

It’s so worth it

That first smile they give you is priceless. There is a sudden rush of love that washes away all the feelings of anxiety and gives an instant and powerful purpose to your life. A new baby teaches you to trust your instincts and listen to your own voice. Not to sweat the small stuff. To focus on the bigger picture. Need a new perspective on life? Bugger the self-help books – try having a baby. And as for that expensive rocking chair? It’s a great place for dumping the dirty laundry…

What were your baby fantasies and realities?


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