Danielle Symes: First Born Fears
“One thing in particular that I spent way too many hours stressing over was the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s with my first born child. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and it’s particularly glorious when it comes to having kids”
I’m an over-thinker, always have been, always will be. One thing in particular that I spent way too many hours stressing over was the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s with my first born child. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and it’s particularly glorious when it comes to having kids. Oh man how I would love to go back to “new Mum me”, gently sit me down and reassure myself that just because the sweet potato I recently puréed isn’t organic doesn’t mean it’s going to kill him!
Now that I have a second child, who suffers from a severe case of the ‘second child syndrome,’ I look back on “new Mum me” and chuckle (ok, I cringe) at some of the things I thought I absolutely had to say and do in order to raise a healthy, stable and respectable member of society. Firstly, I would stop looking at my 2 month old and assume that the smallest thing such as trapped flatulence meant something. He is 2 months old! He has barely graduated past ‘blob status’ at this stage so don’t discount those private school scholarships just yet. Secondly, I’d tell ‘new Mum me’ that it’s ok that you are struggling with breastfeeding, lots of women do! Formula isn’t going to slow down his brain development, formula isn’t going to stunt his growth and formula isn’t going to make him grow a tail! My boobs didn’t work very well for either of my kids but come round 2 I didn’t beat myself up. I tried a few different things and when they didn’t work I grabbed the bottle out of the cupboard, poured myself a glass of wine from it and subbed in my husband.
“Formula isn’t going to slow down his brain development, formula isn’t going to stunt his growth and formula isn’t going to make him grow a tail!”
As a photographer I shoot a lot of new mums and I see the fear in their eyes when their baby starts crying mid-shoot. The fear of embarrassment, the fear of not knowing what to do, the fear of judgement. It’s funny to me now that I used to get so embarrassed when my first born cried. I felt I had to portray to everyone that I was a perfect mum with a perfect baby that slept all night and never cried. If my second born cries now I couldn’t give two hoots if I get those ‘get your baby under control stares’. I know now that if my baby is crying it’s because she needs me to be calm and to comfort her, so hastily trying to shoosh her with panic in my eyes ain’t helpin’ no one!
As new mums we over-think everything and we are sucked into buying anything that Baby Bunting will sell us. Let me tell you ladies… that special milk warmer that costs $249 is also best know as a microwave. The breastfeeding pillow, yeah that’s just a regular old pillow and don’t get me started on the nappy bins! From prams to baby carriers to the safest car seat Germany has to offer we are sucked in hook, line and sinker because they all prey on our biggest fear: the fear that if we don’t have the latest Bugaboo or $28 chemical-free bubble bath we’re not doing our job properly as mums. We are told that we need all this crap or our babies might die, and that’s no exaggeration! I genuinely believed when I had my first baby that if I didn’t properly sterilise every single thing that went in his mouth that he would contract some kind of terminal illness. Now if my second born eats banana off the bathroom floor with dog hair stuck to it I tell myself ‘meh, it’s building her immune system’.
As new mums we assume the worst of situations and I think that’s why come round 2, even though you are now officially outnumbered, it’s so much easier. You know what to expect; you know that 2 hourly feeds won’t last forever, that colic will eventually pass and those little whiteheads on his cheeks will clear up on their own without you having to try and squeeze them all.
So, to all of the new mums out there currently living in a pit of self doubt and fear, just know that it does get easier. Not because the tasks get easier, god no, you still have toilet training ahead of you! But, you will grow more confident and you will start to realise that you are actually pretty bloody good at this whole parenting thing… and by round two or three you will be the Roger Federer of the Mum world (just with a lot less money and really stretched nipples).