Four days later I was released and we headed home to the boat where we settled into a nice routine of feeds, nappy changes and sleeping. Everyone advises you to sleep when your baby sleeps and sometimes I did. At other times though I would stay awake just holding my baby. I loved him sleeping in my arms. This ‘sleep anytime, anywhere’ stage doesn’t last long and I want to relish every possible minute. Throughout my pregnancy I had everyone and their uncle giving me baby advice and this only seemed to increase now I had William home. To be fair, some of it was useful; tips on getting that illusive burp up and how to hold a newborn in the bath were fantastic. But most of it, without meaning to sound ungrateful, was unasked for and unnecessary. I had more than one person tell me, while I was pregnant, that I shouldn’t change a cat litter tray. I can understand if the person giving this invaluable advice didn’t know me; therefore not knowing that neither me nor any of my friends have cats, but the people telling me were my friends – they knew this already! A strange anomaly I noticed as well was the amount of people who would regale a horrific birthing story when they found out I was pregnant. When I pointed this out to my dad he opened with ‘that reminds me – did I tell you about when one of you, I can’t remember which one (I’m one of four), was born’. I stopped him at this point, he just over-rid me with ‘you were born with teeth and bit your mum on the leg on the way out!!!’ Trust dad to make me smile when I’m feeling stressed. Folk also seemed to find it funny to tell me how fat I looked. Most of the time I would laugh this off and make some comment back about how I’m growing a baby – what’s their excuse? But every now and then, when exhausted from creating ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, I wouldn’t be able to smile at them. Here’s my (unasked for) advice to all tellers of that ‘joke’: Look at the pregnant lady first – if she looks completely knackered, out of breath and dying for the loo, don’t take that opportunity to tell her she looks fat too. She won’t take it as the joke you intended it to be and there’s a good chance you will end up with a crying pregnant lady on your hands. And no one wants that.
Family will give advice whether you want it or not and you just have to put up with that. You learn to nod in the right places, take the advice that’s good and ignore that which is bad; with only the occasional huff of exasperation when feeling particularly run down. Strangers giving advice, however, continues to baffle me. I mean, family have heard the back story and, ultimately, are just trying to help you in any way they can. Strangers know nothing of you or your baby. I had a man at the library ask if my 3 month old baby was sleeping through the night yet. When I replied ‘No, he still wakes for his feeds a few times a night’, the man started giving me a lecture about how I need to get his sleep sorted immediately or I’ll be making trouble for myself in the long run. I cut him off with a ‘Thank you for your advice’ and turned my back. It’s amazing how many people will start telling you stories of spoilt children they know and how to avoid your child turning out that way. And if I hear the phrase ‘making a rod for your own back’ one more time I swear I’ll scream! I felt like everyone was pointing out a better way of doing things for EVERYTHING I did and therefore, pointing out what a bad mother I was – like they were asking why on earth would I do it that way when this way is SO much better. Such as the correct way to put my finger in Williams mouth to sooth him. Or the best way to change his nappy (it’s not like I haven’t done it 8+ times a day for the past 3 months…)
Wow. That was quite the rant. Sometimes you need a good rant to get it out and get over it. I just hope that in the future when William brings his girl home with the news that they are having a baby, I don’t immediately break into stories of how I did things and the best way to do this or that. Fingers crossed I’ll wait for them to ask for my advice before I give it. I’ve no doubt, however, the occasional word of ‘wisdom’ will slip out and that’s why I try to bite my tongue when I’m on the receiving end.
It only seemed like yesterday we were bringing William home from the hospital and now, all of a sudden, he’s 15 months old. Where did the time go?