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Have you ever met someone that was barely halfway through pregnancy and they were so matter-of-fact about how things would go for them as a new parent?
And you’re thinking ‘Oh you sweet thing… you have no idea what expectations will fly right out the window the minute that kid comes into the world’.
I was that matter-of-fact pregnant lady that thought I knew how it would all go… after all, I have younger siblings. Surely that taught me everything about having a baby in the house.
Did you have any expectations of parenthood before your first baby came along? Did it turn out the way you had it planned in your head?
Here are the things that I thought would happen, and since these expectations were completely shattered, my biggest piece of advice to new parents is to just go with the flow, and don’t be upset when things don’t go to plan.
#1. I won’t breastfeed
I was raised in a household where formula was the norm.
All my maternal influences either formula-fed their babies exclusively or didn’t stick with breastfeeding longer than 3 months. My own mother never even fed us colostrum, and hey, there’s no judgment here. I believe each mother should nourish her child in a way that is suitable for her.
My husband begged me to just try breastfeeding our daughter while I was pregnant with our first, even if it was just the colostrum. I agreed to try because it was so important to him that I try but I made it clear that I wouldn’t continue if it was “too hard.” I completely expected to give up breastfeeding by 3 months.
I tried breastfeeding. And it was hard.
It was hard because of the frequency of feeds in the newborn days. It was hard because of the cracked nipples in the first two weeks. And then having to be on demand for feeds ALL THE TIME.
But E and I have had an amazingly easy breastfeeding journey compared to some mothers I know. No tongue or lip tie, no thrush, no need for nipple shields.
We had an abundance of milk, to the point where we bought an amazing Spectra S2 breast pump and donated some excess milk to premature babies who needed donor milk to help them thrive.
We weaned at 15 months when I decided to cut day feeds down (I got to a stage where I just needed some personal space).
Within just one week, E had cut her night feeds and was weaned completely (I DO NOT RECOMMEND WEANING IN SUCH A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME… it has such a physiological effect on your body).
So much for having a casual ‘I’ll give it go and see if it works’
#2. My child will never have a dummy/pacifier.
Let’s take a moment to laugh at how naive I was before E was born! I was given a packet of dummies at my baby shower and stowed them away, with no intention of using them.
After all, no child of mine was going to be attached to it as a 2-year-old. Plus, isn’t there an article or two about how dummies can ruin your child’s teeth? Or the articles that say that the introduction of a dummy would forever limit my milk supply.
So somehow these Avent dummies found their way into my hospital bag (I’m looking at you, Mum) and on the second day after I’d given birth, my daughter wouldn’t stop screaming.
She had a full tummy, a clean bum, cuddles from her mum. Half an hour of constant screaming (God knows why) and one of those dummies were used as an experiment by Adam to see if it would soothe her.
I remember protesting as he put it in her mouth, bleating weakly about her doomed dependence on it, her future teeth development, how our breastfeeding journey was now doomed.
Well, she soothed straight away; my milk came in, in abundance, the very next day (I was actually oversupplied for months) and E only had a dummy for when she needed soothing and I wouldn’t change a thing.
She wasn’t overly dependent on it either, most of the time, she’s more interested in pulling it out of her mouth and playing with it in her hands.
And those fears about a two-year-old with a dummy? She had completely lost interest in it by the 14 months.
#3. Disposable Nappies.
During pregnancy with Ella, I was adamant about only using disposable nappies because, and I quote “there’s no way in hell I’m scrubbing poo off nappies,” the cost and impact on the environment be damned.
We exclusively used disposable nappies until Ella was about eight weeks old. The cost was adding up. Lugging a box while I had the pram or Ella in my wrap was a pain in the rear end.
A friend of mine was proudly showing off her stash of Modern Cloth Nappies that she’d accumulated for her little boy. And, they were adorable.
I would never be able to justify the cost of getting some of the custom-made MCN’s but even the standard Alva pocket nappies were adorable, and they are quite cheap for the high quality of cloth nappy you get. (I’ll be able to reuse Ella’s for any future babies I have). Check out my stash – I got these for about $300 total.
A month of researching later and we received our first lot to try.
Within 3 days, I was hooked. Ella’s nappy rash had completely cleared from the switch.
What about the poo-scrubbing you ask?
Well, turns out you can these nifty little bamboo liners that you just flush away and only minimal poo gets on the actual nappy (they’re completely biodegradable as well!). And then you just wash that out before you pop it into the machine.
I vividly remember while I was pregnant, meeting up with my friend and her newborn son. The same friend who got me hooked on cloth nappies.
She had this gorgeous baby in a Moby wrap instead of a pram. I was horrified. What if he fell out? I vowed I would never ‘endanger’ my child by wrapping them around my chest.
Fast-forward to post-pregnancy and I am desperate for free hands as my velcro baby refused to be put down one afternoon.
My aunt has given me an Ergobaby Performance Soft Structured Carrier (SSC). I tried it, but being amid an Australian summer and having to use the newborn insert, my little bub did not last long in the carrier. When she was older and no longer required the newborn insert, Adam started using it religiously to wear Ella.
Despite the heat issues as a newborn, she lasted long enough for me to realise the benefits of babywearing. I had free hands and a sleeping baby against my chest.
I ended up buying myself a Moby wrap for when Ella was so little and then fell down the rabbit hole with woven wraps, picking up a Little Frog and, my favourite Yaro La Vita Autumn woven wrap and then a Fidella Ringsling #babywearingnerd.
Even when Ella was two-years-old, we still occasionally had ‘ups’ when she wants cuddles and I am cooking dinner. The moments are becoming fewer and further between, but I have saved my wraps for any future babies.
Looking back, I completely understand why older, wiser women rolled their eyes at me when I confidently told them of my plans when I had my baby.
The number of times I was told to keep an open mind. It frustrated me because ‘I know what is the best thing for our little family’.
Pfft, what did these other mums know? Turns out that they knew a lot. And now I’m the one telling mums-to-be to keep an open mind.