Parenthood starts with a bit of a bump. Well a large bump usually in the shape of a baby but you get my point. Your baby's beginnings can be a little more challenging than you may have anticipated.
Although nine months should provide ample lead time, there's something about the parenthood project that requires a baby to be present in order to really get the hang of it all.
And you will. We all did.
But looking back, there were a few things I would have appreciated knowing in advance that would have made that learning curve a lot less steep.
Thing One: The New Normal
Welcome to the New Normal. Second-guessing your every move, constantly asking yourself "is it just me?", seriously contemplating using matchsticks to keep your eyes open, intense euphoria at the idea of leaving the house by yourself, intermittent crying without being sure why, pretending your body belongs to someone else and craving conversation with an actual grown-up are all part and parcel of those early parenting days.
This is completely normal. You are not going mad. REPEAT You are not going mad! It will pass...well, most of it.
Thing Two: Natural Mother My Arse!
I have no idea why I thought I'd be a Natural Mother. Oh no, hang on I do. It was because of all those "friends' who kept insisting I would be one. It was only a matter of hours before I realised that not only was I not one but that they simply don't exist. How can anyone just naturally know what to naturally do in a situation they have never been in before?
We don't just automatically absorb all baby care information from our Mums via osmosis. Don't get me wrong, some women have more of an aptitude than others but that is nowhere near the same as being a natural.
Add to that the fact that every baby is different and none follow any kind of rule and the whole theory starts to quickly unravel. Expecting an intense period of learning, a rake-load of aha moments and a fair few mistakes is way more realistic. And makes for a lot less stress.
Thing Three: The Three Month Test
So you're three months in, your body is beginning to resemble what it used to (I said beginning), you've got a fair grasp of this baby care lark and you finally know the difference between a hungry cry, a "change me' cry and an "omg! I'm so tired' cry.
The baby's not yours.
So what about you? Now that the craziness of the early days has passed, grab a few minutes to focus on yourself. Three months is an excellent time to ask yourself where you're at. And if you're not sure then ask someone you trust for their opinion.
It's not unusual for baby's dad or a member of your family to be the one who spots signs of post-natal depression. A quick google search will bring up plenty of questions you can ask yourself but with time still at a premium, the following question will give you a pretty good idea of what's going on:
Are you enjoying the experience?
If yes, then chances are you're all good but if joy feels like a foreign language, now is the time to talk to someone about how you're feeling. PND isn't something that just goes away by itself like a headache or a cold. Nor does it mean you're a bad mother.
It just means you have PND.
Talk to a professional, get treated. Best thing I ever did!
Good to know you're normal, right?