Sponsored by Bupa Australia
When I look at the photo below of my first-born children, the cute factor is (almost) lost on me.
Ok, so the babies in this photo are now adults. Therefore CUTE.
Oh my. This image represents my time deep in the baby-parenting trenches. I get a bit tense and twitchy just looking at it. NINETEEN YEARS ON.
The side-by-side stroller was not very practical but it held my three-month and 20-month in a manageable place so we could all get out and just breathe.
My daughter on the left has red-rimmed eyes from just completing a reflux-induced screaming episode. Note the strategic placement of the cloth nappy in the photo – always at the ready for the next time.
My son, bless, is about to paint himself and his favourite Bananas in Pyjamas t-shirt with that ice cream, which for some ridiculous reason, I thought was a GOOD idea. Or a bribe.
I can guarantee that both babies are more fashionably dressed than I would have been (even with aforementioned Bananas tee in play).
Fast-forward eight or so years and this was me.
The trenches are still very much a thing but LOOK at me. I (almost) look like I’ve spent three months at a day spa, not attending to every waking need of my third born.
I felt like this in hospital too. I sat there on my double bed in my soft-pant ensemble, hair washed – and BLOW DRIED. The bar fridge was stocked with Champagne and soft cheeses for visiting time. I welcomed visitors with open arms.
At home when he was soundly asleep, I had a shower. And if he woke up, I knew a few minutes of crying wouldn’t hurt while I was drying myself off.
The difference between baby photo #1 and baby photo #2?
Yes, the nights were still long. Yes, sleep deprivation was not pretty – for all concerned. Yes, those little bundles require so much of you. Every waking hour.
But I knew I could do it. I knew that the time goes SO quickly. I knew that just when you thought you’d never be able to climb out the trenches, you can and you do.
I also knew that it was important to look after me too. I knew that it was ok to carve out an hour here for a coffee with a friend or three hours there for a freshening up of my unnatural blonde locks.
I knew that my entire clothing budget did not have to be dedicated to my child. That I deserved to have some new things, to look and feel the best I could.
In a sense, I became my own supporter, my own champion, my own Nightwatchman – something I just wasn’t able to be the first time around.
I was also in a position to pay it forward to the mums I met in antenatal classes. I was having my third baby and a refresher on how the hospital and midwives worked; they were having their first experience and feeling all the feels I felt way back when.
That’s why I’m on board with Bupa Australia’s Nightwatchmen initiative with my fellow bloggers, Beth from BabyMac and Kayte from Woogsworld. Bupa realises that the first 1000 days of parenting can be challenging and is encouraging each of us to reach out and help a new family who might need it. Even small gestures of support can make a difference.
If you’ve already been through the trenches, you’re probably already nodding. If you’re someone who wants to lend a hand but doesn’t quite know where to start, there’s a range of ideas and inspiration at BupaNightwatchmen.com.au, and even a quiz to get you started.
We caught up recently in Beth’s kitchen to share our baby-parenting war stories. Beth is back in the trenches and exuding that third-time-around confidence. Kayte and I can now (thankfully) laugh about those early days.
The Styling You Facebook community has been amazing, getting on board and sharing the best advice they received while a new mum – advice that other mums could benefit from. Check out the comments in the post below.
3 pieces of advice that helped me
Advice is not always wanted or listened to but I think if it’s offered when asked for then you can be very much helping out another new parent.
The three pieces of advice I received as a first-time mum that helped me get through those 1000 days were:
- Babies love routine (especially if you do too). It’s probably not parenting-PC these days but all three of my babies thrived on having a structure and pattern to their day. Yes, there were days when that plan went out the window but the structure was key to all of us getting back on track and through the next day and night.
- You will look back and realise that it all went so quickly. I joined a mother’s group while I was pregnant – friends of mine had had their babies and they invited me along. Listening in and observing was an eye opener as to what was ahead of me. One of the mums (whose first born is a year older than mine) said to me, with a smile on her face and a firm grip on her coffee, “What seems a big deal now will end up being such a short time of their life, don’t wish it away”.
- You know your own baby better than any other person.THIS is the single most useful piece of advice you can have when confidence is lacking and you’re afraid your intuition is too. I’m here to tell you, it’s not. Your intuition is GOOD. Listen to it. Listen to your baby and go with what works for you and your baby. Every child is different. Every parent is different. You have to work out what works for you as a team – not what someone else thinks will work for you.
So tell me, do you or did you have support in those early days? Did you receive any gems of advice that helped you through? Do you know a friend or family member who is experiencing their first 1000 days of parenthood? How can you be their Nightwatchman?
You can find out more about the Bupa Nightwatchmen campaign here.
Coordinated by The Remarkables Group