Having a baby is like buying a house. Anyone who’s ever had experience of it (and a good few who have no clue) has good, well-meaning advice to impart. Some people will suck their teeth at the mortgage you have, others won’t like the neighbourhood, others will want to change the decor. And guess what? Just like every house is different, so is every baby. So what worked for your mother in law or your best friend or your work colleague just might not quite work for you and yours. But don’t take that badly either. It doesn’t mean you’re wrong, it doesn’t mean they’re right and it doesn’t make any of you better or worse at motherhood. It’s just your own experience and your own child.
As Baz Luhrmann said “Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than its worth”. So in the spirit of healthy advice giving…
The most important piece of advice you will ever receive.
Trust your instinct. No, I don’t mean you’re going to get it right every time but you’re not going to be wrong either. And that little niggle in your brain or the hairs on the back of your neck or the feeling in your gut. That right there is the best advice giver you will ever have. You may not be the most natural, maternal earth mother going but your instinct is far stronger than you thought possible. So trust it. Whether it’s listening to what the doctors are saying, to comforting a crying baby to looking after yourself. Take a step back, out of the chaos and noise of it all and find and listen to that tiny insistent voice that is your instinct. You and your baby won’t regret it.
The next best bit of advice. This too will pass. A wonderful phrase of sanity, one of my friends repeated like a mantra and I finally listened (Thank you, Julia!). He’s waking up every hour on the hour every night. He’s sleeping through til 745am. He doesn’t like the bottle. He’s teething. He wakes an hour after we put him down. He’s screaming for three hours from 5pm. He seems to be pretty happy. He seems to be pretty grisly. All of it. Will Pass. But dear god, when you’re in the middle of the bad bits, it feels like it will go on forever. Grit your teeth.
There is other advice out there. And you might get it from all quarters. But if you go back to these two, well, you might find a little bit of sanity restored.
Or you might think whoever gave you that advice needs their fricking head read.