Roman at 23 weeks in the womb.
When you become a parent/pregnant you become public property.
So, how you should you handle these pieces of advice? And what's accurate and what's not? First of all, every piece of advice should be handled with grace. Thank people for their advice, then decide if it's relevant to your situation. If someone is persistently handing out poor advice find a way to move them off the subject entirely. Talk about a TV programme or the weather. Despite what everyone thinks not all pregnant women are baby obsessed - they have other interests.
So, what's accurate about having babies? It depends on how you want to parent. However, I have thrown together 5 Top Myths of Child Rearing, specifically geared towards parents with babies.
1. Babies change your whole life. Yes, they do. There isn't really anyway of getting around that. But they are also adaptable to your lifestyle. Once your baby is born or the ink has dried on the adoption papers you can adapt to life as a parent - and your baby adapts to you. They are full on at first because they are learning to adjust; newborns are learning that their food isn't constantly on tap and the difference between night and day and adopted children are adjusting to a completely new environment. When people say this, they aren't really thinking about the implications of their words. It used to scare me senseless because I already knew my whole life was changed when pregnant and I worried about what was ahead. Truth is having a baby was a whole lot different - and in some aspects easier - than I thought it would be. My life was changed, but not for the worse.
2. Babies are expensive.This is total nonsense and really annoys me. Babies only become expensive when you buy them unessential equipment or buy into every toy that will somehow make them the next Einstein - Little Einstein's anyone? I'm not opposed to these types of products but what I will say is that they are not essential. So what do babies need? lets break it down into bullet points:
- Food - Free for the first 4-6 months*.
- Nappies and wipes - if you're using cloth it's one-off payment (usually around £170 or so, coupled in with your washing and electricity charges) or you can buy nappies at around a £6.50 per week and wipes at anywhere between 36p (yes I am talking about Tesco Value wipes) to £3 odd for the most expensive wipes per week.
- Clothes - Depends where you shop and what you buy.
- Somewhere to sleep - Can cost anywhere between £69 for the cheapest to £200 for a better quality if you feel you need it.
- A couple of blankets and sheets - These were surprisingly pricey. Depends where you shop but I would recommend Mothercare for quality and the fact their sheets and bedding are hard wearing.
- Towels - Two good quality towels that are soft and baby friendly for after bath.
- Baby shampoo - Something kind to their skin. I got told that water works just as well (from a midwife.)
- A few toys (although this is optional in my view.) - Cheap as you like. You can shop around at charity shops, car boot sales, second hand toy shops etc or go to larger chain toy shops.
- Bumbo/some kind of seat for them - and for you to be hands free - A Bumbo will cost you around £40 for the chair and tray. Alternatively you could borrow one from a friend who no longer needs it and pass it onto another Mama in need.
If you're breastfeeding you won't need to worry about tins of formula, bottles, a bottle warmer, steriliser. However, if you're not then yes, this will be a consideration. *As I haven't bottle fed Roman ever I don't know the cost involved. We received a lot of gifts at my baby shower, from friends who had kids and after Roman was born.
Clothes, food, nappies and wipes will of course be an on-going cost as well - hence why I plan on getting my boy onto the potty ASAP and why we use cloth sometimes - but they needn't set you back a huge amount, either. I get clothes from friends whose kids have outgrown stuff, I buy from eBay and we get plenty of gifts from family that include clothes for Roman. Babies don't cost a lot if you keep things simple.
4. I'll lose my identity when I become a mother or a father.Again, this is your fear speaking to you. There are definitely people who've felt this and gone through this experience when they had their kids, but it is a matter of resetting your priorities and arranging who you were into who you're going to become - you would have to do this anyway with or without kids. Sounds simple on paper, but it's harder in theory. It does take time for some people to adjust to adding to a family and for others they take completely to it. Accept that everyone is different and adapt accordingly to what suits your family.
5. You'll never sleep again. Yes you will. Some parents take home their newborns and never have a troubled night of sleep, some parents are up every 30 minutes. It's all variable. Despite the fact that you might have sleepless nights ahead in the first few months, eventually your baby will settle down into some pattern of sleep and waking. Roman took 5 months until he was completely sleeping through the night with no wakeful periods but even now he's waking up a few times a night every so often - usually when ill or teething - but it is not the intensity it was at of those first few months. You will sleep again.