Four Births, Five Kids, Six Lessons

If you’re an expecting mom, here’s an honest account of one mother’s varied birth experiences and her insights from those early days!

“If giving birth offers us a buffet of choices – I feel like I’ve dined out on every course.

I’ve had complication-free natural births and emergency caesarean sections.  Singletons and one set of twins. I’ve had medication-free deliveries, epidurals and a general anaesthetic. I’ve experienced really quick labour and painfully slow ones. I’ve given birth to overdue babies, and under-cooked (premature) ones too.

Through it all, here’s what I would go back and tell myself if I could:

1. Expect the unexpected.

By all means, spend time working out what your options are and what kind of birth you’d prefer, but also, expect the unexpected. Make room for it. Ditch the overly detailed birth plan, or at the least, hold it lightly.

None of my births went according to plan… despite meticulous planning (on my side at least) my babies arrived shockingly late or far too early. My husband forgot the camera (twice) and he also ate most of my birth snacks (also twice).

By the third birth, I guarded those snacks like a dragon guards her gold. This was going to be the birth I’d been dreaming of – plentiful birth snacks, camera in hubby’s hand, and my first pain-free labour (thanks to an epidural). This was going to be the birth that went according to plan. Except, it didn’t.

The epidural stopped working, the midwife just shrugged, and then just after giving birth, I was wheeled away for a surprise general anaesthetic and emergency surgery to remove a stubborn placenta.

Our twins came next – the first of our kids to arrive early, and via caesarean section. Whilst each of these precious babes were perfect (to me), their arrivals were far from it – sometimes in big ways, and other times in small ways.

2. Don’t rush to put clothes on either of you.

I did this straight after my first babe was born, but by the second, our paediatrician had explained to me how important skin-on-skin contact is, and also how it aids in the transmission of ‘good’ bacteria from mother to child. That’s also why there’s no need to thoroughly wash your baby straight after birth.

After a quick wipe down, examination and weigh-in, my second and third babies were laid on my chest straight after being born.

Wearing nothing but a nappy (both of us really) that’s how we remained – blissfully snuggled together for the better part of our hospital stay.

3. Speaking of nappies…

Your sweet babe’s first poo is the stuff of nightmares. When my hubby and I delicately unfastened our firstborn’s first nappy – we both let out loud screams and pushed every emergency button we could. I thought my precious child had passed an organ!

In reality, this sticky, black, tar-like substance is perfectly normal. After that initial shock, get used to mustard yellow poos – multiple times a day. In those early days, you really can never have enough nappies.  

4. Accept that the first few days and weeks will be a weird, sleepless haze of scary and sacred.

You’ll scale the heights of love and joy, and plunge to the depths of exhaustion and fragility. You’ll fear the worst, especially at night, but hold on – the dawn always always comes. And it all passes so quickly – the long days, the longer nights, the endless piles of nappies and the marathon burp sessions.

5. There really are no magic secrets to make your baby sleep through.

Straight after my first, I remember tracking down a fabled nurse who I’d heard held the magic code to make babies sleep through. I also heard about a magic potion to settle babies, and drove all around the suburbs until I’d tracked it down at a pharmacy. None of it really worked.

Looking back, I don’t know why I was so determined to do all I could to ensure my tiny baby was a champion, Olympic-worthy sleeper… as if the depth and length of his naps would somehow confirm my champion mother status, or ensure his success later in life!

I wish I could go back and tell my younger, tired, disappointed self to not get so hung up on routine in those early days. Just relax, little mama! Your babe will eventually stop confusing their days and nights, they won’t want to sleep on you forever, and whilst they do—they’re not being manipulative little masterminds.

They’re just being babies. 

6. It’s all good.

Sweet, tired moms of little ones: do your best, trust your gut and don’t stress about all the rest. Is your baby under-stimulated or over-stimulated? Does she need more tummy time or less? Formula or breast milk? Sleeping training or co-sleeping? Pureed veg first or rice cereal? I’ve been there and got the stained T-shirt to prove it.

And do you know what’s crazy to me now?

In the end, there’s really no discernable difference between the kids of mine who got breastfed and those who were formula-fed. Between the kids who went to crèche, and those that stayed at home. Between the ones that slept like angels, and those little hell-raisers who drove me to drink from a different kind of bottle.

In the end, our kids (and us) are far more resilient than we imagine.  

In the end, we all get to where we need to go. So love your kids, look after yourself, laugh at your mistakes, and try to enjoy the journey.

Mums, what lessons have you learnt through childbirth, pregnancy and raising your children?

Comment below to let us know x

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4 thoughts on “Four Births, Five Kids, Six Lessons

  1. cha7eed says:

    Relatable. Esp the fact that absolutely NOTHING goes according to plan! Currently expecting baby #4 & my only hope & goal is to birth a healthy human! And take it one day at a time from there.

  2. nthabisentle says:

    My daughter used to cry so much especially at night, will be up all night and only sleep in the morning, I used to cry with her because I thought maybe she’s sick or something but she was just being a baby,you have to be patient with them otherwise you’ll lose it.