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Pregnancy | Your Personal Experience

7 Ways in Which a Baby Will Change Your Life

By Elzet Pedersen

I’m about to admit something for the first time ever. When a friend happily shares her pregnancy news with me, I’m usually torn between jumping with joy and sending my condolences – only because I’ve been there. I know that those first two or three months are an emotional rollercoaster ride; a combination of heaven and hell that nobody can really be prepared for. Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, but I can’t disappoint now – I’m known for being a drama queen. Anyway, I usually go with the congratulations part as it’s the more acceptable thing to do. When someone tells me that they are ready for parenthood I just nod and smile politely.

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Before I get into this article I’d like to share one of my favourite quotes: The truth shall set you free, but first it may tick you off! … So how will a baby change your life? Glad you asked!

1. Joys and challenges
Let me start by saying that I love babies. I have the most adorable six-month-old little boy and my mouth is permanently glued to his cheeks, neck and chubby legs. And my cute and very independent daughter with way too much attitude (she obviously takes after her father!) will be three in two month’s time. I absolutely love my children; they brought a completeness to our family unit. It took a while but I’ve learnt that it’s not all about me, and in the process of learning this I had to give up a few things. But with every milestone I take back a bit of territory. I do believe it’s a huge honour to try and be the best mother I can possibly be. The joys are endless, and although I would never change this for anything, there are just as many challenges. Parenthood is an interesting journey, for sure!

2. It will leave you shell shocked
I love the Afrikaans word for this: Bomskok! You might think that you are prepared for this little miracle of yours when you’ve read a zillion different books and baby magazines, painted the nursery, stacked up on nappies, and packed your hospital bags… Wrong! You will never be prepared, and the older you are the bigger the shock is. I had my children at the age of thirty-four and thirty-eight, so I know what I’m talking about. Parents that are slightly older seem to be more set in their ways, which means they struggle a bit more to adapt to this life altering event. Although I coo’ed and uttered soppy phrases, there were times when I thought “What about me? Where do I fit in the picture? What about my needs? What happened to Me-Time?” I’ve chosen a few words to sum up the first six weeks in order to give you an idea of what to expect: awe, beauty, bewilderment, insanity, pride, poo, confusion, gratitude, fear, sleep deprivation and happiness!

3. Sleep deprivation
I blame it all on a lack of sleep – this is the root of it all. We can just handle so much more if we are well rested. The first few weeks will probably consist of only two to four hours of sleep per night, as well as a few power naps during the day. Example: You are tired. Your little angel is screaming at the top of her lungs and there is just no stopping her. Your loving hubby hasn’t had much sleep himself, and because he feels uncertain and left out he takes it out on you… all of this and on top of it you can’t even remember when last you had a decent meal. Your emotions and hormones are all over the place, and baby is still busy waking up the whole neighbourhood… next thing you lose it and aggressively fling your cell phone against the wall and burst out in tears. Someone I know did this (don’t look at me!). If you feel very emotional and depressed, and if you are struggling to cope, don’t hesitate to get something from your gynae to get you through the first few weeks. Don’t measure your abilities to be a good mother by the way you react – it’s pretty normal to be unstable, emotional and tearful. If you follow a good routine, your baby should be sleeping through by four months and life will be a bit more normal. We all know we look at life a whole lot differently when we’ve had some adequate sleep.

4. Cinema, DVDs and restaurants
You will not have a cinema-and-popcorn experience for a long, long time. Even watching a DVD is asking a bit too much during the first year – you might actually find that you’ll prefer to use every single free moment to sleep! The same goes for restaurants; if you weren’t a great Spur or RJ’s fan, you soon will be. It’s just easier this way, so get used to it.

5. Responsibility
Responsibility is a grownup word which means life is not just about you anymore. Responsible parenting means that we now don’t have the luxury to mess up badly or the right to get involved in destructive behaviour patterns. This is what we choose when we decide to fall pregnant. When your little one is born, he or she comes with a Book of Life. The pages are blank and you, the parents, write your child’s life story by the decisions you make. It’s a huge responsibility, but at the same time such a privilege!

6. Priorities
The moment you hold your brand-new baby in your arms, your priorities change. Everything else takes a back seat. Family comes first! If you are like most other moms, you will become all mushy, protective and prepared to fling yourself in front of a train to save your little princess. Life as you’ve known it will change. You might even stop browsing shopping malls and start saving, who knows – anything is possible! The one thing I’m still trying to get over is the fact that baby gets more than mommy; clothes, toys and lots of other stuff. And this usually happens with the money mommy was supposed to use for a haircut and a new dress! Now you know why most moms look like they need some serious TLC.

7. Routine
The first few nappies you change are so exciting, you apply just enough bum cream to all the right places and it’s done with so much love and tenderness. This will change – you will soon notice that the routine is quite boring: feed, awake time, nappy change, sleep. Feed, awake time, nappy change, sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. There won’t be much interaction for the first three months. Use this time to bond with your baby, sing to her while she is nursing, talk to her while she’s awake and sleep when you can.

Any parenting experience will have its ups and downs, but the ups definitely outnumber the downs! I can’t explain to you what it does to me when my toddler looks at me with her big, innocent, blue eyes and lovingly lisps that she loves me while throwing her warm, little arms around my neck. This can simply not be compared to anything else in the whole wide world!

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