Before the arrival of our little bundle of joy, neither my husband nor I had even changed a nappy, never mind been responsible for the life of a tiny human being. To say the first two months have been a steep learning curve is an understatement but here we are, two months on and we've all survived. Just.
Along with the million and one new things I've learnt in the last nine weeks there have also been a few surprise lessons along the way that no amount of vast research could have prepared me for.
1. Be Prepared to be Unprepared.
Ok, obviously as a first time parent I was expecting to feel out my depth with almost everything. However we naively took solace in thinking we were at least prepared on some things. In a world that was completely turned upside down, it's amazing how much I was trying to cling on to some form of control. How foolish.
For example: The Birth plan (it even has 'plan' in the title - how can you not be prepared when you have a plan?) Sure, creating the plan made me think about pain relief and where I want to be - but the plan went out the window on the night. How on earth can you 'plan' for something when you have no idea what to expect?
Breastfeeding. It never even crossed my mind I wouldn't be able to feed my little one. We had not prepared to bottle feed at all. An oversight that was compounded by the fact we came out of hospital on Christmas Day. The one day when there are no shops open. Cue frantic researching into the best bottles, sterilisers and all other paraphernalia associated with bottle feeding, along with an emergency trip to Asda's on Boxing Day. Not how I was planning on spending my first full day with my son.
Clothes: I thought we had enough vests and sleepsuits to keep our little man warm, clean and dry for weeks. I wasn't prepared for him to have more costume changes than Beyonce on tour. Cue the washing machine running overtime and another trip to the shops.
All things poo related: I was not prepared for how poo obsessed I would become. From frequency to colour to consistency, if it came out of his bottom I wanted to know when, what and how. I also wasn't prepared for how much a baby can fart and how loud. I mean I'm talking full on man-sized farts that can wake you up in the middle of the night. No book mentioned that.
2. The Human Body is Remarkable.
The creation of life is incredible and throughout my pregnancy I marvelled at every stage, from when my head was down the toilet with morning sickness, to feeling the first kick, to the actual labour itself.
Having spent nine months seeing my body change, the thing that surprised me the most was how quickly my body recovered. Despite a twelve hour labour, I soon forgot the pain and noticed after only a few days my body was returning to it's pre-pregnancy state. It wasn't long before I could see my toes again and bend down without making an exerting noise.
It's also amazing how the body can cope on continued sleep deprivation. Life before child, I used to fall asleep on sofa most nights and feel like death if I didn't get at least seven hours each night. Life after child, I found I could function on four per night. Just. I am, however, grateful that little man is starting to sleep for longer stints at night. There is a huge difference between functioning and feeling human.
3. Time Flies.
Considering I was awake for what seemed like the whole of the first month, I can't believe how quickly the days (and sleepless nights) fly by. Looking back to the first month, I think the time was probably broken down as follows:
50% feeding: Little and often
20% on the Internet: researching all the stuff we'd forgotten, purchasing required items and Googling everything that we weren't sure on ('why is he doing that?', 'why is he doing that?, 'why is he doing that?)
15% on visitors: Midwives, family and friends.
10% washing - clothes of course - showers are for the privileged.
Now we've had two months practice at being parents, things have calmed down, but time continues to fly by.
4. Strong, Supportive Husband
Overlooking the fact that Hubby fell asleep during my contractions, despite me squeezing his hand with every one, he was amazing throughout the arrival of our son.
Whatever I went through during the labour, I do wonder sometimes if it was worse for him. Of course, I'm not talking pain wise - I'm talking view wise. Whilst I was staring at the ceiling trying to squeeze the equivalent of a watermelon from my neither regions, he would have had a better view of what was happening. And it can't have been pretty. Yet he didn't say a word.
Without going into too much detail, I think the aftermath took us both by surprise and he was there as a pillar of strength without a squeamish comment or batting an eyelid.
The day our son was born was the day I fell in love with my husband just that little bit more.
5. Unconditional Love
Talking of love, nothing could prepare me for how much love I would instantly feel for my son.
6. People are Generous
Family, friends, neighbours, my hairdresser, friends of friends of friends: we received so many cards, toys and outfits we were completely humbled by how generous people have been.
7. Slept Like a Baby?
I had no idea babies were such loud sleepers. The phrase 'slept like a baby' is actually hilarious. The reality is, if your night's sleep was similar to a baby then you will have woken up several times, snored, snuffled and shat yourself before morning. Think carefully before you use that phrase.
And the next few months?
Now we are feeling more confident in our parenting roles, I'm really looking forward to what the next few months will teach us. Hopefully less winging and more mastering. We shall see.