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Smackdown from a second-time mother with a newborn

smackdownsecondtimemum-adrienneI did not know these things when I was a first-time mum and if I did, I wouldn’t have been bold enough to say them. Some things you need to know:

I am more than just my boobs.

When G1 was little and having a cuddle with someone, her dad included, the second she was unhappy it was suggested to me that she was hungry. Dutifully, like an unsure first-time mum, I’d feed her. And she seemed happy. The cuddler was happy to have made the right call, I was happy to be doing my God-given job. Right? Wrong.

G1 was regularly overfed until she puked. I am a wiser mother now.

Sometimes my baby just wants me because I smell right, because she knows me, because I was her home environment for 9 months. So if my baby cries with you, hand her back but do not tell me that she’s hungry. She just doesn’t like you as much as she likes me. And that’s fair enough. I have more to offer than just my milk boobs.

My baby is a good sleeper for an 8-week-old.

Yes, by all means ask but do not put words in my mouth or make a liar out of me. And don’t use my “yes, she’s a good sleeper” to assume that I’m not getting up in the middle of the night to feed her. And do not assume that because I’m feeding her at night, she’s not a good sleeper. She is! For 8 weeks old.

I look good.

I am 10kg lighter than when I was pregnant and I am 10kg heavier than I was before I was pregnant. And you know what? I look good. I don’t mean I’m so proud of what my body has achieved and created (I am, though). And I don’t mean my love for my children has eclipsed my superficial body image. I mean: I. Look. Good.

My milk boobs are heavy, my mummy-tummy is bigger, my skin is glowing, my ass is squat-tastic. Yoga and harem might be the only two varieties of trousers that fit from my closet but I am smiling. Because I look good.

So be very careful with your sympathy or assumptions of how I must feel about my new, heavier body. I feel fine about it.

And maybe I’m delusional. So what? What’s it to you?

My baby is asleep if I tell you she’s asleep.

I don’t care if she is cooing, crying, or giving you the evils with one eye open. My baby is asleep if I tell you she’s asleep. This is not a time to disagree or try to prove me wrong by poking, touching, making eye contact, or telling me how alert she looks, 6cm from her face. Back off. She is between sleep cycles. This is the time to ignore her, because I say so.

I am not the kind of mother who can lock myself indoors for two years and schedule all sleeps in a dark room. Partly because I am an extrovert who loves the world. Partly because I am a mother to three kids, spending regular intervals picking up and dropping off said kids. G2 has regular sleeps but some of these are in the bucket seat between educational institutions and the car. Do not mess with them.

You are not my baby’s voice.

You do not know my baby as well as I know my baby. Simply because I spend almost every minute of every day with her. Do not ask her if she’s cold. Do not ask her if mummy forgot to put a hat on her. Do not ask her if her parents are ignoring her.

Do not ask her questions to passive aggressively tell me how to parent. You think I’m not parenting well? You might be right but ask me.

However, you are welcome to ask my baby a range other things like: Why are you so beautiful? Do you know you have hands? How lucky are you to be landed with such an awesome family? Shall I hold you so you don’t cry? Do you want me to buy your mummy a coffee so she can be more alert to appreciate this miracle of life?

I have been sleep deprived for at least 8 weeks if you don’t count pregnancy.

I am doing a good job. Do not mess with me.

**End note: Baby number 2 may have had a raw deal during the pregnancy but she’s getting a real deal mother, not like the mummy-in-training her sister had.

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28 comments so far -

  1. The one I got a lot for the first few months from strangers was ‘at least you are out and about’ which I think was meant as a compliment for managing to get my and my baby’s stuff together and actually leave the house but on a tired or stressful day seemed to hint at what wasn’t said – ‘you look like sh*t but…’ ! When we are sleep deprived (and most mums are even if their babies are ‘good’ sleepers) and every person we come into contact with feels the need to comment on us and/or our baby intention and interpretation are often mismatched. Don’t get grumpy about it, just don’t speak for the sake of it…is keep it to ‘you look great and your baby is gorgeous’ cos that’s always appreciated.

    • I agree with the article completely.
      Probably because I don’t like unsolicited advice on anything, but it seems when it comes to kids, everyone feels it’s free reign to say whatever they like!
      I’ve seen so many new mums confused and upset from getting pummelled with advice from well meaning friends and family. I don’t care if you’ve got kids or not, everyone’s situation is different and everyone feels differently.
      Anyone who cares will ask do you want to know what I think, before offering advice. Sadly most people don’t think to have this common courtesy, especially with first time mums. And no, they are not always emotionally strong enough to let it roll off or say what they think in return.
      This subject is actually a pet peeve of mine, I guess that’s clear lol
      So applause to the writer, you did well.

  2. Adrienne, I think your post was great! As a first time mum I can appreciate and relate to everything you have said, please continue writing the way you do!

  3. I must say this post made me laugh – I didn’t really see it as ‘negative’ as some of the previous comments have. I guess it falls into the ‘funny cos it is true’ category – a way for the writer (and the rest of the readers who have liked and shared this blog) to deal with these comments that are received over and over and over again.

    It is hard work being a first-time parent and the barrage of comments – even if individually they seem ‘easy to deal with’ – can certainly wear down your self-esteem and confidence.

  4. What a shame your experiences have evoked such negativity. Surely this vitriol should be reserved to those who truly intend you harm. With exception of the body shaming, all those comments sound pretty easy to deal with in real time with lightheartedness- ‘nah, she’s not hungry but she likes to emotionally manipulate you into thinking she is’ or ‘you wake her you own her for as long as it takes me to get a massage’. Life is too short for this pain, laugh it off, it’s not so serious. You could be having to parent a newborn in somewhere far worse.

    • Mostly, sharing my children with my community has brought me a lot of joy and just a few eye-rolls. That’s just not what this this article was about ;). I agree with you- Life is short and laughter is always the way forward,

        • I posted above. I thought the point was not to vilify advice givers but to bring to light the experience that well intended advice is not always wanted and easy to laugh off for new mums who are sleep deprived and unsure. I’m sure other mums who have found too much advice hard to deal with appreciate knowing that they are not alone or bad people. For people giving advice it might be good to know that this I intended effect is a possibility. I think most are just trying to help.

    • “all those comments sound pretty easy to deal with in real time with lightheartedness- ‘nah, she’s not hungry but she likes to emotionally manipulate you into thinking she is’ or ‘you wake her you own her for as long as it takes me to get a massage” This is a great way to deal with these situations (in my opinion,but I’m not a mother so maybe my opinion is worthless) instead of getting all huffy and puffy over people trying to reach out to you and help.

      I’m with you all the way Sammum, see my reply to Amy above

  5. Great way to alienate those of us who don’t (yet) have children and make happy conversation or offer what we think is helpful suggestions to our friends. I don’t think I would want to visit friends/family if this is honestly what they think of others’ good intentions!

      • Ah look out, the mummy mafia are on to you. If you haven’t been here you’re not one of ‘us’.

        The point Amy was making has been lost in your defensive swipe. Adrienne’s blog post directly attacked those outside of her, including non-mums like Amy so why shouldn’t she respond. If only to hold a mirror up to how privileged you all sound.

        There are women out there, probably not your neighbours, who would kill for the care and attention you’ve all received. For the love and interest shown in something you’ve made and are struggling each day with.

        No one is denying the work we do is easy. But have some perspective. Is it really the worst thing in the world? Does it really justify the reaction? Aren’t you just lucky to have people who care about you?

        • defensive swipe? Coming from the poster who has done nothing but criticise the author of the post.
          Just because you don’t agree doesn’t make the post an attack. Or an attack on the childless in society.
          If you want to talk about being defensive, i’d perhaps turn that judgement on yourself to see how it feels. And get off the high horse. Your righteousness is nauseating.

    • This is exactly what I was thinking whilst reading this article. As a woman without children (and unable to), I do try to be helpful when it comes to first time mothers, even though I have no experience in having children of my own. We have all heard how tired/stressed/worrisome being a first time mother is and the natural emotion from most women is sympathy and the desire to help. This article has me feeling like I shouldn’t even look at someone else’s baby for fear the mother will think I’m trying to replace her as her child’s mum.

      I may not have the right advice, but I’m willing to help. Instead of shutting us down like this and making us feel like awful people, just let us know what it is you want or don’t want, but please do it with some tact.

      If you worked in a sandwich shop and were so flat out busy and needed help but I had never made a sandwich in my life, wouldn’t you rather the basic help I can provide to relieve some of your stress or should I stand in the corner and do nothing? If I can’t make a sandwich to save my life, I’m sure I can cut up more sandwich fillings for you, I can clean counters, serve customers, whatever it is you ask me to do. Be thankful that you have people around you that want to help.

      • I myself think an offer of help (sure you could make a cup of tea), kind comments (e.g. Telling the baby how beautiful and lucky they are) and being a good friend, supporting the mum would all have been very nice. A chat can be real medicine and thank goodness for all the lovely people who made time for one wether they had kids or not.

        I don’t get along very well with unsolicited advice though. That is from people with no children, other mums and my own mum. I say I don’t because it is within me the need for something more emotionally rather than the how to of advice. Take it or leave it I unfortunately can’t. I often feel alienated and hurt by unsolicited advice. It is very Mars and Venus. Hurrah to people who deal with it well but I expect many find that is become an irrigation as it comes again and again from different people who pop in there two cents.

        It is not just no experience but also no experience with my particular situation (kids are different, I am a different person to you and my situation is not the same as yours). I would much prefer recognition and the opportunity to ask if I want to. Unfortunately I feel many advice givers are judgemental of my own choices and I don’t have the emotional resources to deal with those who may be offended when I don’t agree/use their advice. Especially as a tired, emotional first time mum I didn’t find other peoples fixes helpful. Other peoples companionship, store of knowledge and understanding ear was very very much appreciated though.

    • I know people don’t mean any harm and are trying to help. My point was really that for a first time mum, all the comments can be really overwhelming- especially when she is sleep deprived and emotionally vulnerable. Like those comments, take this article or leave it. Or we can use both to have a conversation about what is great and challenging about motherhood. Thanks for your your feedback, Hayles.

  6. I love this! I’ve just been the recipient of more unwanted advice from healthcare professionals who should know better – this article couldn’t have been spotted at a better time, thank you.

    • You’re welcome! It was the right time for me to write it instead of yelling, “SHE’S ASLEEP” at some poor stranger.

    • I guess it’s a pretty touchy subject for a lot of us! Being public property and open for commentary isn’t fun for anyone.

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