Following the birth of my first child my husband had two weeks of paternity leave. I look back on those days as heavenly. Obviously there were the usual hiccups which follow giving birth. Sore nipples, piles and stitches to name but a few. Despite that though I remember this time as being really special. My husband would be at my beck and call, bringing me food, doing his fair share of nappy changes and generally being my rock. I think during this time I was lulled into a false sense of security. I didn’t do any cooking or housework, had the occasional nap in between feeds and when I was feeling more ‘recovered’ from the birth we would go for lovely strolls with the pram in the gorgeous spring sunshine. Cards and gifts would arrive every day from friends and family, people would pop in to meet the baby and the house was full of the scent of spectacular bouquets I’d been so lucky to receive,
It was a really ‘bonding’ time for our relationship as a family of three and I remember feeling really
exhausted happy. As the end of my husband’s paternity leave came to an end, I remember feeling ever so slightly nervous about what was in store but nothing really prepared me for the shock of being home alone with a baby. She was not an easy baby. She had a tongue tie which made breastfeeding a constant, painful struggle for about the first 6 weeks. She would cry constantly and totally refused to sleep during the day. Reflux kicked in at about 3 weeks old (right on cue for when hubby returned to work) and all-in-all it was exhausting and emotionally draining. I remember my husband getting home from work on the first day and I just broke down in tears. She had cried all day and not slept at all – surely this wasn’t what newborns were supposed to be like?
At our antenatal classes I remember sitting in the hospital with lots of other pregnant couples, all looking equally petrified and the hot topic of conversation would always be ‘the birth’. Why does no one mention the end of paternity leave?! This can be equally traumatic in many ways (OK, maybe I am being a bit melodramatic here). I would look at the clock most days, it would be almost lunchtime, I’d still be in my P.J’s and I hadn’t eaten breakfast. The house often had that just-burgled look about it and the chance of getting time to prepare a healthy lunch for myself was non-existent. My days were taken up with breastfeeding, winding baby and changing nappies and I totally lost track of who I actually was anymore. I couldn’t hold a proper conversation with anyone, was totally exhausted all the time and was more than a little anxious about leaving the house with a baby that was likely to scream the place down at any given moment.
So, if I had to give some advice to Catherine on how to prepare for this I would suggest:
- Ask H.R.H to stock the freezer up with some home-cooked meals
- Accept EVERY offer of help that you can get, whether it’s from parents, ladies in waiting or the butler..
- Get yourself dressed the minute you get up, otherwise you may never get dressed all day
- Have a constant supply of chocolate at the ready
- Get yourself a baby sling. These are great for enabling you to get things done whilst you carry a future-king around hands-free
- Only allow visitors if they agree to make their own cup of tea and bring you cake
- Accept that housework is not important. OK, this one probably doesn’t apply in the case of a princess…
How did you find your first weeks as a new mum?