A friend of mine is expecting twins! Well, his partner is but they are both thrilled and also, expecting them on Christmas! How exciting!
We talked a little while ago about advice regarding routine and while I did write a blog post for him about it, it didn’t really turn out as I’d planned. It was more of a ‘day in the life’ kind of run down with my kids as they are now, both well past the newborn phase. So, I thought, not actually all that helpful for them, really.
Then I was writing a post for Meet Other Mums as a part of their #blogsquad, which also just so happened to get away from me. It morphed into something I was proud of but wasn’t expecting, and all of a sudden I knew what I had to write for my friend!
Want it? Okay, here it is:
Write off the first six weeks. Seriously. Just write it off. It’s gone, non-existent, completely unplannable. Nope. Just let it go. Trust me.
It will be okay, I promise.
The first six weeks with a newborn are a blur of exhaustion, poo, vomit, pain and more exhaustion (and more poo).
Ideally the entire first 12 weeks should be regarded the same way but unfortunately, Paternal leave is shockingly inadequate. Most dads are lucky to be able to afford two weeks off!
Mums need at least 12 weeks to heal from the initial trauma. The math just doesn’t add up, does it? (did you know it can take an entire year for a woman’s body to completely heal from all the effects of pregnancy and labour?)
We had to book two weeks of holiday with one week of paternity in order to be able to afford Husband having three weeks off. It wasn’t fair to either of us, but we made do. My friend will only likely get a few weeks himself and his poor partner is going to be having the twins via C-section.
I just want to make it clear I believe a C-section is not the easy way out. It is having your abdominal muscles sliced open, your internal organs removed, babies removed, organs replaced and every layer that was cut re-stitched.
You use your abdominal muscles for everything, even just sitting still. It is a major and dangerous surgery that requires bed rest to recover. How many mums actually get the bedrest they need to heal properly and quickly? A sadly tiny percentage, I’m afraid.
I just wanted to emphasise that point. I had two vaginal births that were horrifying agony, traumatising even. I never, ever want to feel that pain again; two babies are fine, thank you. Recovery is hard, long and uncomfortable.
But I know that even with this knowledge, If I accidentally fell pregnant again and was offered or advised a C-section, I’d refuse with every fibre of my being.
Whoops, I’ve probably just scared that poor friend to death. Um. Back on track?
Advice. The most important advice, as I said.
Let it go.
Do not have any expectations for your first six weeks, minimum. I don’t just mean plans to go out or visit people or have people come round. I’m talking diet, hygiene, productivity.
It is okay to live off of pot noodles and take away the first few weeks. It is okay to wake up one morning and realise you haven’t showered for two weeks. It is okay to look at the dirt collecting in the corners of the room and realise you can’t remember the last time you hovered.
Yes, a new dad’s job is to try to help stay on top of the housework, cooking and so on. Yes, you are expected to do this even though you are running on just as little sleep as your partner (in most cases). You are expected to take up this mantle because your partner has pushed (or had pulled) a tiny human from her body.
Her body is bruised, battered and exhausted. Her hormones are going insane trying to adjust to not having a person to grow anymore, but probably still to feed. (engorged boobs are not sexy by the way, they are painful and leaky.)
She will need you now, probably more than ever before or ever again in your lives. Do the dishes, change the nappies in the middle of the night. When you have to go back to work (not that you want to) she will still be hurting and exhausted and learning, one day at a time, but now she will be alone for likely 40+ hours a week.
If you have family close by, do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask favours of everyone and anyone. People told you ‘just ask if you need anything!’ beforehand? Great, ask. Ask them to pop round and keep her company. Ask them to pick up some milk and bread so that she doesn’t have to. (Just be sure she will see this as helpful and not patronising, remember the hormones!)
Don’t put any expectations on yourselves for those first few weeks.
They will only serve to make you feel stressed and like failures if you have to cancel for any reason. If you do happen to manage going out, visiting family, lunch with friends etc, it will feel like a huge victory and will boost your confidence as new parents.
I’m not saying the newborn weeks are Hell. I’m not saying it will be terrible, with nothing getting done, everyone being miserable and so on. Those first few weeks are also amazing.
That little person (or persons) will be here! You will get to marvel over their teeny tiny hands and feet. You will lovingly stroke their cheeks and beam with pride every time someone coos over how cute they are.
You will strut like a peacock the first time you take them out in their buggy. You will realise you love your other half in ways you never could have expected for being stronger than you ever could have imagined.
Your entire world is different now, it will never be the same again. That is okay.
Just know that it is okay if it isn’t sunshine and roses all the time. It is okay not to be on top of everything and it is okay to need or want a little help. It will be okay. Just take the time you need to find your feet. I promise no one is judging or testing you but yourself.
You will find your balance, one step at a time, just don’t rush it. Take these first few weeks to learn how to be a family now, not just a partnership, it is worth it. I promise.