They say babies don’t come with a set of instructions but with five weeks to go until I meet my little boy, it would really be bloody handy for my anxiety if they did.
I’m about to become a first time mum and I feel like I’m completely unqualified and unprepared for the role. It feels like one of those stressful dreams when you’re suddenly told you have to sit your A Level exams again with zero preparation.
All the antenatal classes and Zoom courses my partner and I have taken recently tell us that babies are different and essentially you have to do what’s right for yours. In fact, many first time parents have told us everyone is simply winging it.
Winging it? That might have been my approach to building my Ikea bed or chopping my hair into a bob when I was a teenager but this is my first born child.
It doesn’t help that so many experts online seem to have conflicting advice. Some insist you feed to soothe a baby to sleep but others say that just makes them reliant on you to nap. So am I feeding my baby before or after a nap? Or both? And when do I bathe them? How often do I need to burp them? And what the hell is a breast pad?
People say instinct will kick in but I’m not confident. I’ve barely been around babies. Only enough to cuddle and coo before handing them back to their parents. I find it stressful enough trying to decipher what my cats various meows mean. How will I be able to tell what my baby wants?
It also doesn’t help that social media seems awash with first time mums who appear to have nailed it. Mums who have got their babies on regimented sleep and feed schedules from just weeks old. Mums who have their baby’s day to day routines plotted by the hour with military precision. Mums who have created perfect little babies who sleep 12 hours a night and just spend the day breaking into adorable giggles for TikTok videos.
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It’s not even the feeding and sleeping thing I’m clueless about. It’s simple things, like dressing them. What’s the difference between a onesie, romper or a sleepsuit? They all look the same to me. Does my baby need socks? Mittens? Hats? A coat?
Then there’s their development. Sensory play and something called tummy time which still confuses me. Here I was thinking my biggest aim was just keeping my newborn alive but now I’m expected to intellectually stimulate them too? It’s a lot of pressure.
And you have the added stress of babies changing week to week. What makes sense at one point will soon change. You may feel you’ve got the hang of it all and suddenly your baby reaches a whole new stage of development.
So currently, I’m treating my impending motherhood like my third year of uni. Desperately cramming in revision and reading books and extra materials in the vein hope that the information seeps in and I absolutely nail the practical exam.
But much like my third year, I’m feeling everything is going in one ear and out the other. And sadly, unlike third year, I can’t soothe my nerves with a night necking snakebites down the SU.
So please tell me that other mums to be feel the same. Are we all secretly panicking that we’re doomed to fail? Or does everyone else have the mothering instinct and mine is just faulty?