parent opinion

'I'm 3 kids deep into motherhood. Here are 6 things I wish I knew as a first-time mum.'

I’m three children deep into motherhood. And with each baby, things have become easier, and my instincts have become finer tuned. 

I’m quicker to let go of my rigidity, and more confident in my decisions. I’m more resilient and capable. I trust myself.

Sometimes I look back and can’t relate to who I was when I was pregnant the first time. Motherhood has softened and strengthened me all at once. It has smoothed all my rough edges. I’ll never be the same again.

Yet I still cringe when I think back to my first few weeks with a new baby.

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Six years ago, I found myself launched from a footloose and fancy-free childless life, into one with an unsettled newborn. 

Combine that with a painful postpartum recovery and a generous dose of the baby blues, and you have yourself a recipe for the perfect emotional storm.

I’ve never liked being thrown in the deep end, and that’s exactly what having a new baby is. 

Image: Supplied.


I spent the first two weeks of our daughter’s life in a state of perpetual mayhem because I felt like I was drowning in uncharted seas. 

But as time passed, I reached out to so many lifesavers (and sometimes those lifesavers reached out to me) and I gradually got my head above water. 

I look back on that time and smile at my naivety, but that’s only because I know better now.  


There are so many things I wish I’d known as a struggling first-time mother, but here are just a few.

1. It gets better.

This is your new mantra: it gets better. Your war cry: it gets better.

I repeated these three words as my uncooperative infant writhed and wailed at my engorged boobs, and I literally shook with anxiety. 

I sobbed these three words as I sat on the shower floor, hot water pouring over my battered, stitched and bruised body.

I whispered these three words as my eyes drooped and my head nodded, baby in my arms at 2am, feeding for what felt like the twentieth time that night. It gets better. Say it with me: it gets better. 

2. It's okay to miss your old life.

People give you a lot of advice when you're expecting a baby. But nothing, and I really mean this, nothing, can prepare you for the rollercoaster you're about to board.

The first two weeks home from the hospital with our first baby were the most stressful time of my life. 

Looking back now, I understand that I was just transitioning into motherhood in my own way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

It’s okay to miss your old life. It doesn't mean you don't want your baby, or that you’ve made a mistake. Another human being is dependent on you for their absolute survival, and that's a huge responsibility. 

Of course you miss your old life of sleep-ins and date nights. These things (for now) are off the menu. You're a sleep deprived, hormonal milk maiden, and if you're anything like me, change can be difficult. 


Refer to the above point and breathe.

3. TV is your friend.

I admire how our mothers coped with newborn babies without Netflix. 

I imagine my mum sitting on the couch at 3am, cluster feeding me and reading a book or staring off into space, and I wonder how she didn’t keel over from fatigue and boredom. 

I’m showing my age, but in those days the TV would have been shut down overnight, or at best be nothing but infomercials. Mothers of my era have been given the world’s best distraction: Subscription TV.

This brand-new little person of yours is still getting used to being in the outside world, and it can take time to find your new normal. 

Don’t feel guilty about spending those first weeks parked on the comfy couch with your baby, watching all the shows and movies you wouldn't have had time to see otherwise. 

During the first month of our daughter's life, I watched three seasons of Call the Midwife. (Poetic, I know.) I revisited trashy movies I hadn't seen since I was a teenager, while she clung to me even in sleep, like a little koala.

Take this time to rest and recover – you deserve and need it. 

Also, postpartum will look very different next baby, if you go on to have more children.

(Spoiler alert: you won’t be able to sit and cuddle your newborn while watching back-to-back episodes of The Crown, because someone else will have removed their nappy and be scaling the pantry shelves in the nude.)


Image: Supplied.

4. You will have no idea.

You know those prenatal classes you went to when you were pregnant? And all those books you ordered online and read, highlighting the pertinent parts? 

Your brain is going to do a mental dump on all that information. 


For one, you're too tired to recall anything. 

And secondly, your baby has other plans. You’ve just met this small person, and you're supposed to intuitively know what her needs are, and then meet them efficiently? Good luck. 

Image: Supplied.

It took us a week at home to figure out that our daughter had a bad latch and wasn't breastfeeding properly. 


She was hungry. I'm not exaggerating: it took us, literally, a week with an angry infant that never slept to realise she was hungry. Welcome to the world, kid.  

I can still see her raging at us, the epitome of chaos, as if to say, 'you absolute f**king idiots’.  

You’ll learn as you go, and it will be okay.

5. Sisterhood may surprise you.

Women can sometimes be hard on each other, and ourselves.  

I was pleasantly surprised at the warmth I felt from other women when I became a mother. Women who are mothers and understand the weight of this new role you have taken on.  

Sisterhood is the elderly Italian lady in our street who took my hand as I pushed the pram by and said, 'you are so beautiful, because now you are a mother'. (I cried.)

It was the woman in the coffee shop down the road who gave me advice on how to cure wind in babies and didn’t get mad when I bashed my pram into all her tables each time I went in there.  

Sisterhood was the workmate I had never been particularly close to, who had children herself and would often text to see how I was going, full of encouragement and support. 

Although now the strength of the bonds I have with my mum, sister and girlfriends are the main part of my female village, this village isn't exclusive to them. 

It's also the commiserating nods from other women as I’m wrangling a screaming child in the supermarket, or the kind smiles as my toddler is learning to scoot through the local shopping strip. 


6. Your relationship with your partner will change.

With a newborn, your relationship with your significant other consists of passing each other in the hallway, barely recognising the other from beneath a haze of utter exhaustion. 

You might possibly cop a reassuring pat on the back once the baby is successfully fed, burped, swaddled and in the bassinet asleep. (FYI, despite what the books say, achieving this parenting quadrella is a lot harder than it sounds.) 

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Having a baby is like going to war - you're in survival mode, people. You and your partner won't always be kind to each other. You'll be tired and overwhelmed and might take it out on each other.  

The flip side is this: you and your partner will also share wonderful, glorious moments. Your eyes will meet over the head of this sweet, slumbering baby, and you'll be in absolute awe of the little soul you've created. You'll have in-depth conversations about baby poo. You’ll learn to forgive each other, and yourself, for rookie mistakes. 

You'll navigate this new life together so ungraciously; stumbling, faltering, yet holding onto each other for dear life. 

And it'll be bloody beautiful.

Feature Image: Supplied.