Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?
There is so much I would do differently about labour and my early parenting days if I had the wisdom and experience I have now. Things I hope I will do differently next time, should I remember. I love my daughter more than I ever thought possible. The guilt I feel at her early days is driving me to despair. I will not allow this to happen again.
So, to the future me, to the me carrying baby number 2, these are the things you need to remember.
It is as bad as you remember. In fact, it’s probably worse. In your favour is the fact that the first time it was quick, which probably means it will be quicker next time. With that in mind, say no to the opiates. Remember how much you regretted it the first time, remember how much you can’t recall about the birth and early hours of your daughters life and remember how much this upsets you. Chances are it will be over quickly. This time you want to experience it, be in control and take part, rather than have it happen to you.
Check for tongue tie, and insist on immediate action
Do not believe the midwife who tells you that you have a “perfect latch” and are therefore not in pain. Ignore the nurse who tells you pain is normal. This time round you are blessed with knowledge, experience and an army of supportive friends. If breastfeeding is painful then trust your instincts, demand action and do not settle for “immediate” when immediate means 10 days. (Pack, in your hospital bag, the telephone number of someone who will divide a tongue tie privately, and, if absolutely necessary, insist to your husband that you go down this route)
Labour will not be how you imagined, (and that’s ok)
Even with hindsight and experience there is no way you can predict the birth of your second, (and any further future babies). Abandon your idealized view, remember only that moment of sheer joy when your daughter hit your chest. Yes, it is important that you do not repeat previous mistakes, you will only anger yourself by repeating actions you regretted the first time, but you also can not write a script for characters you do not know. Go with your body, allow it to guide you. Trust your body.
You don’t need to feel guilty for the rest of your life. Forgive yourself.
It’s OK to say it was tough, it’s OK to need help. This does not make you weak or less of a Mum. Guilt will ruin you if you let it. Don’t.
Be strong, be firm and say what you think.
To everyone. Remember all thone comments you wish you had made. Remember the wishes you were to scared to share. Well not this time. This counts for labour and beyond. Tell the midwife that you know your body, insist that they believe you. Tell your family that you know your baby, insist that they refrain from “suggestions”.
Skin to skin skin to skin skin to skin
No doubt that this will be much harder second time around, when your first still needs you and must not be forgotten, but remember your regrets. Remember how your hormones did not balance, and how you felt like you had failed. Wear your baby in a sling, wear them skin to skin and don’t, for even a second, pass up any moment that you can hold your new addition close. Hold them both.
There is no right and wrong.
Labour is not a test. You can not fail it.
Lock the door and switch off your phone
Have a proper babymoon this time. Do not feel like you need to show your baby off to the world. The world can wait. Do not spend more hours of your baby’s first days on Facebook than you do staring into their eyes.
Wear extra breastpads when shopping
Remember, first time around, how your boobs leaked at the sound of other peoples babies crying.
The world doesn’t stop, but it feels like it should
And for you, it can. You have two now, enjoy them both. It really does go fast, don’t blink. Time passes while you are worrying, don’t waste a moment that way.
No one else loves their baby the way that you love yours. At least that’s how it feels.
Life is not a competition, and parenthood is not something to ve won or lost. Just value your family. Know that you love them, and make sure they know it too.
Two, now there’s a scary thought. There is nothing I can say to prepare you for that. I am yet to experience that fun.
Double the love, double the joy.
Take control, when the time comes do not allow it to also be double the guilt as double the regret.