They say it takes a village to raise a child and I’ve found this is oh so true. I’m very lucky that as a new mum I have fantastic support network, I’ve a strong relationship with my family and have my mum just down the road as well as a good network of supportive friends. Throughout pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood my mum, aunties and cousin have been good sounding boards, my sister-in-law has passed on advice from in the states and a lifelong ballet buddy of mine has answered all of my endless worried WhatsApp questions.
My husband returned to work after 2 weeks of paternity and then I knew I had to fly solo, keeping our little cherub alive each day! My mum straight away offered to come up on my first day but I politely declined, I had to learn to go it alone and worst case scenario was if I panicked and stuff got too much I could ring her but ultimately I had to and wanted to do this by myself, I’m my daughter’s mummy. I knew what bringing up a baby would entail, not everyone has the luxury of a mother to help down the road and most importantly at some point there’d come a day when I was going to have to fly solo anyway so why not face that immediately rather than putting it off and getting used to extra help.
When it came to the crunch it wasn’t as difficult as I envisaged, or should I say the things that were difficult weren’t what I expected to be. It was things like getting myself breakfast or lunch, grabbing a shower, juggling a baby, a changing mat, a bowl of water for cleaning her and remembering to pick up the clean vest given she’d pooped all over the one she was wearing!! These sound like simple things but when you’re on your own breastfeeding a 2 week old baby they are mammoth tasks and you have to find a routine and rhythm that works for you and your baby. The hardest moments are when baby won’t settle or is being clingy whilst you need to go to the loo or brush your teeth. I also needed to learn how I was going to get a smooth operation for getting me and Baby P out of the house whilst her having melt down because I’ve put a hat on her (cue eye roll). I needed to learn how to juggle things, where was little P going to go while I washed, dressed and ate, Moses basket? Bouncer? Baby carrier? There’s no hard and fast rule for this I just had to find my own method and timing.
As someone who’s also used to being busy and career minded, I had to learn how I was going to still be mentally stimulated (hence the increase in blog posts) and what was my social life as a new mum on maternity going to be, how was I going to cope at home all day on my own without adult company. What mum and baby groups did I want to get involved in, what baby massage/yoga/sensory classes did I want to go to? I knew that in the first few weeks I needed to get breastfeeding established and going out and about wouldn’t be so easy but that once I’d got into feeding my daughter confidently I’d be able to leave the house and now do so on a daily basis even if it’s just for a walk in the pram. Once again I just had try these things out and fall into a rhythm that suits me and my little bundle.
The real moment of truth for flying solo was little over a week ago when my husband went to work and I realised that my security blanket of mum round the corner was gone. She’d flown over to the states to visit my brother and family for 6 weeks and I really was flying solo. I’d rarely felt the need to call upon her and often just asked her to join me and my mini me for her to enjoy being Granny or I’d call in on my way past from a walk with the pram etc. But suddenly that security blanket was gone, the knowledge of having that help and support if needed was gone. That was a strange feeling, because now I really was going solo and had to feel confident in what I was doing as a new mum because the safety net had been removed. Truth be told things have ticked along day by day as they should and my and baby P have done our day to day activities as we usually would, mum around the corner or not.
However, we have had some recent trials and tribulations with feeding, weight gain and my little missy’s tongue tie. This although not a major issue was enough to unnerve me as a new mum and for me to want the advice and support of an experienced mum. This where the “it takes a village” comes in, I sought the advice and opinions of my nearest and dearest through phone calls and texts, with my loving Aunties popping round to see me and give me the reassurance and confidence boost a new mum needs when her intuition gets tested. This support was invaluable, we ultimately made our own decisions as parents but having the kind words of close friends and family helped make the situation easier.
That’s where the phrase it takes a village really comes from, it’s the moral support you get from others. The advice, sounding boards and mutual love and respect those around you provide you with. In reality, you’re never flying solo, so long as you have your village around you.