Preparing for parenthood, at a high level, goes a bit like this; realise how much there is to learn and do, panic, do some research on the internet, buy loads of parenting books, read a load of scaremongering and science, panic some more, then find another parent to-be and realise you’re in the same boat and your panic settles somewhat. But really it’s still there bubbling under the surface. It’s kind of how this blog came about, I wanted to reduce the panic moments by sharing the good and the bad, the stress-worthy and non stress-worthy moments of preparing to be a parent. Now we’re on the “other side” of parenting and have 14 months under our belts, I thought about the things we did to prepare that I genuinely believe were helpful, here’s a few of them:
I know this might seem like an obvious one, but I learned as a dad-to-be that not everyone goes to classes to prep for parenthood. I thought they would be viewed as essential, a bit like doing your theory before your driving test. Despite my reluctance to attend every rainy Wednesday evening in mid-winter, the classes changed me from a rabbit in the headlights to a nappy-changing and birthing pain relief master (at least I liked to think so). In short, what these classes did was bring us together with a group of people with the same look of fear in their eyes to talk about boobs, the body, birthing, relationships and everything in between. It’s not only a place to absorb as much information from a professional as possible, but it puts you at ease as questions are asked that either make you think “Good I’m not the only one” or “wow, there is someone more nervous than me!”. You will focus heavily on the run up to parenthood, but the sessions we attended gave post natal advice as well. I wrote about our experience here if you fancy a more detailed look.
From the horses mouth
In my opinion there are three avenues to go down when doing your parenthood research. One of them is the science based, matter of fact Google work where you will find out your answers to the percentages of deliveries that go to C-section, or the average number of hours a first labour will be. Google is always a natural go-to, so I spent a lot of time there.
Then you have your forums, which from personal experience provided an equal balance of scaremongering and useful information. On a good day there’s a supportive network of mums going through the ‘same shit’. On a bad day it’s several hundred mums or mum’s-to-be putting the fear of God into one another because their baby’s sneeze sounded different. Before you know it everyone has an unwanted opinion or some unverified “facts” to back it up in the comments section, leading to monumental backlash and some poor mum the other side of her Facebook experiencing one hell of a “mega-worry”. Tread with caution.
A third option, and my personal favourite. The Blogger. You won’t get a truer idea of parenthood than from a parent. and you won’t get a better picture of all possible outcomes than by looking at various experiences. It’s how I got into blogging and it’s genuinely how I started to picture myself as a dad and understand that I am ready for this. Reading about nappy horror stories, lovely moments, first steps, doctors trips and seeing the different approaches to parenthood that people take. Across the board of the many mum and dad blogs I read and still read I felt like I was ready to take on parenthood and more so wanted to carry on that help by writing about it myself. So if you’re stuck, just google mum or dad blogs, they won’t disappoint.
Spend some time together
This is slightly different, in that it’s not necessarily for your new arrival or directly becoming a parent. But when your baby arrives, there’s no pretty way of wording it, your relationship will move from two young people in love, to two young people, still in love, who grunt at one another instead of talk whilst on a cycle of jobs 24 hours a day. This won’t last forever, but as you find your feet you won’t know what’s hit you; lack of sleep, whaling baby, constant feeding and nappy changing really takes its toll and the whole relationship stuff will take a back seat. So whilst you batten the hatches for ‘Storm Baby’, spend some time together, go for dinner, make the most of the few extra calories that mum should be eating (and as I found out I should definitely not!), learn together and get excited for what will be an incredible chapter in your lives.
Parenting is like surfing… sort of.
You can cram your brain full of as much information as possible, and I really do advise at least picking up a book, or going to a class, but you will never be fully prepared, you truly just have to live it. It’s like surfing, you can watch as much on YouTube as you physically can about how to ride a wave, but until you go and give it a go you won’t know how capable you really are, but at least you’ve done some prep. During the delivery of Ivy, I pretty much forgot everything we were taught about the process and pain relief, thankfully we were surrounded by professionals who are paid to know that stuff. And when we got home it was a question of ‘right, what do we do now?’, waiting for Ivy to do something we were taught, but as the hunger came, the nappies filled and the broken sleep took over, you just deal with it. and in some of those eye watering moments when you’re up for the 5th time that night, have to go to work the next day and can’t remember your own surname, casting a thought back to what you were taught in antenatal classes, or read online are the last things on your mind. So my best piece of advice? be there for each other, when you inevitably go at each others throats, forgive quickly and most of all enjoy your new role as a parent!