Dear first time parents and soon to be “former lovebugs” (juuuust kidding!!!),
I am writing this letter to you because there are a few things I’d like you to know.
First thing first let’s clear the air. I am not copying from any random “10 things you should know lists” scattered around the Internet here. All of the things I am writing below is coming from my heart, from my humble experience as a parent and that little bit of wisdom this usually brings. So let’s begin.
I see you. I really do. You are so in love, ready ( or so you think)to start a family. This is one of the most exciting things in your life, a milestone, it feels so real that you’re almost afraid to see it happening right in front of your eyes. So please sit down, take some time and read along:
- It’s ok to be scared. I know how people tend to make you feel guilty about being scared of something amazing like having a baby. You’re having a baby! Yay! Awesome! Let’s celebrate! before you know it your girlfriends are already planning your baby shower while you’re legs are still shaking from the news that yes you’re gonna be a mum (and dad ) soon. But listen to me. Anything that is unknown and out of our comfort zone is bound to scare us, so it really is ok if you need sometime to sit with the news. Acknowledge all range of emotions and own them. Once we sit with what’s uncomfortable it’s very likely fear will dissipate more quickly and we will be ready to jump into this adventure with energy and enthusiasm.
- (this is a big one) Don’t believe everything you’re told (part 1) Imagine you sitting in front of that couple of very close friends who’s had a baby before you. They’ve invited you over for dinner in order to get excited together and celebrate the imminent big event . You’re soon to find out, however, that you, my friend, for that night have become their chosen target to vent all the frustration they’ve been harbouring as parents . They’re still new to the game but feel old enough to dispense unsolicited advice in the form of horror stories such as “your life it’s over” “forget going out again”, “say good bye to freedom and sleep” and so on so forth. All while sipping copious amounts of wine (which you mum can’t obviously have) . Life with a baby can be a shock to the system but it’s not one you can’t overcome as thousands of years of evolution has shown us. It will require adjustment, it will require flexibility, resilience and strength and yes you won’t be the same, but let me tell you, at the end of the baby tunnel you will find a different person, a much stronger and usually much better version of you .
- Don’t believe what they say. (part 2). There is also another scenario I’d like to talk about. You guys again are with your friends, you’ve had your baby and you’re just looking for some empathy from fellow new parents so you find yourself saying things along the line of “can’t wait to go back to sleep”, “is this going to ever end “and innocent stuff like that. But you should know people are not always in bonding mode, and especially when kids are involved, competition can soar to sky high levels. Sometimes even your best friends would much rather die of sleep deprivation than admit what is forbidden: aka “my life sucks right now” and “I feel like the shadow of myself”. Instead when you spell the magic words : “I can’t sleep” an icy two second of silence will follow before they say: “our babies always slept perfectly.- Remember sweetheart? ” . And they start reminiscing about those rosy times of newborn bliss while you’re dying inside and having an internal melt down . No my friend. Don’t make this mistake, don’t believe them even for one second because it is virtually impossible for any parents who has dealt with a newborn to not have experienced at least a phase (long or short) of sleepless nights. Some of us were blessed with relatively easy babies, some of us had to deal with more serious sleep deprivation, but please repeat with me: It’s all normal and it’s all gonna end . Newborns go through phases,sometimes longer sometimes shorter and it’s a physiological thing they are gonna wake up in the middle of the night for feedings. The fact that our survival instinct makes us remove the unpleasant bits of parenthood doesn’t mean they didn’t happen . Your baby is not sleeping and you’re exhausted? IT’S NORMAL and IT WILL PASS. I promise you. Hang in there, you can do it. This tip can be applied to virtually anything, from doctors insisting you need a cesarian section (sometimes you really do! but please give yourself the benefit of the doubt) , to mothers in law who want you to give formula already when you had planned on breastfeeding ,to parents saying you’re spoiling your baby. I am not suggesting you shouldn’t listen to other people’s advice but there is one thing you should listen to more than anybody else: your instinct. You, soon to be mother, should know that being inexperienced doesn’t make you weak, in fact, let me tell you : pregnancy alone has given you new , shiny superpowers. You just don’t realize it yet.
- You don’t need that moses basket (or whatever is called) . Actually you don’t need at least half of the things you think you do for your baby (even if your BFF has already compiled a three pages long list for you). A pram? Nope. A giant stroller with SUV wheels? I know they’re out of fashion even, but listen up. In the extremely unfriendly streets of HK you have to think smart and figure out what’s the best transportation method for your baby (aka, a baby carrier is your best friend so invest in a good one).I still remember trying to trek into the streets of central with my huge stroller and say that it was somewhat inconvenient is an euphemism. It generated a lot of cursing and a frazzled sweaty me who wasn’t exactly a baby friendly sight. You don’t need half of the things you think you do but I get it, first time parents, you’re excited so, your call, but keep in mind new parents are the favourite target for marketing predators and an industry who wants to trick you into believing that dumbo seats are essential to your survival as a parent!
- Final advice for now and it’s all for you mama. You might (or not) feel lost at first. You might cry, you might mourn the woman you once thought you were. You might think this is too hard for you, the hardest thing you’ve ever done. You might stare at this new little human inhaling their newborn scent and feel addicted . You might look at your closet and think when are you gonna be able to fit into those beautiful dresses again.You will miss your high heels. You will see him/her for the first time and you will think it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. You will hold her in the nook of your arm while sleeping together in that hospital bed hoping these moments will last forever. You will be scared to hold her, you will be afraid of breaking her. You will be overwhelmed by tenderness and will stare at her while she sleeps and the sight will give you goosebumps. You will cry for no reason. You will want to go back to work. You will want to stay home with them. You will want to change the world, just so they can live in a better one. Your fights will be bigger fights, you will believe in change, you will embrace the change. You will love your husband more fiercely even if at times it will look like you’re growing distant. You will turn into another being with secret superpowers like being able to wake up at night just because you sense she might wake up, and she inevitably does. You may or may not experience all of these things but I promise you one thing, from the moment this new life has merged into yours, you will be consumed by love in its purest form and this will help you push through, no matter what life and motherhood will throw at you.
Finally just one more piece of advice. Such a special moment deserves to be remembered. If you ever thought of having your photos taken, before or after having your baby, (or both!) Just do it. Having somebody document these special moments it’s the best gift you could give to yourself. No moment is better than now, do it! And just to be clear it doesn’t have to be me taking your photos but if you’d like to get in touch I’ll be delighted to share a part of this journey with you.