No one can ever be exactly sure what will be in store for them when having their first child and a raft of challenges await. Mahurangi Matters spoke to first time mums Jackie, Helen, Sarah and Stacey about the ups and downs of motherhood and what they could recommend to those expecting.
Jackie Norburn with Kaitlyn at five months
I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced with Kaitlyn is dealing with a lack of sleep. You can be up at all hours of the night, but even though you think you wouldn’t cope, your body learns to adapt. I think with babies, because they are all different, you must adapt. I always said I would never make exceptions for my child, and now I do it all the time, over things like using a dummy. The key to getting through the difficult times is having a good support network of people around you that can share similar experiences. But after all the difficult times, it’s surprising how much you still love your baby. I guess you understand it’s not their fault. Knowing that parents go back and have more children after their first, reminds me that other people have got through the experience before and wanted to do it again.
Helen Rhead with Lucas at six months
With your first child everything is an unknown and everyone has different expectations. Certainly nothing could ever prepare you for the sleep deprivation you face, which is a real challenge at first. The challenges change over time as well. It’s more just learning to deal with the basics at first and then teaching the baby things comes later. It’s one of those relationships though where you will walk into the room, see the baby smile at you, and all of the bad is forgotten straight away. My big piece of advice would be to take help when it’s offered. Mothers often want to raise their child all by themselves, but people wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to help, so make use of that. At the end of the day, it’s certainly a lot more good than bad having a baby.
Sarah Davies with Felix at five weeks
I was expecting motherhood to be unbelievably difficult and leave me feeling a mess, so I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Because of my family history, I was nervous that I would get postnatal depression, but luckily the baby has been very settled and made life not too difficult. Lack of sleep is the main issue, with five hours being a premium. Another challenge is making sure you maintain a bit of balance in your lifestyle, especially when you live in a rural area and don’t have great access to social activities. I would highly recommend joining an antenatal group as they can usually put you in touch with all the help you need and the service is free. I’m very happy that I chose to have a child, despite the challenges involved.
Stacey McCartney with Zoe at three months
I did a lot of reading and talking with mothers before I had my child so it’s mostly been what I expected so far. I think a challenge you do face is making sure you don’t compare your baby with others. All babies grow in different ways. There is a saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and even though my baby is, for example, smaller than usual for her age, she is healthy and that’s what’s important. You also need to learn that you can walk away for a minute and come back to the baby. Nothing bad will happen if you need a breather. The old saying is that “the days are long, but the years are short”. It does feel like I only had Zoe yesterday. I thought I would never have children when I was in my twenties, but I feel like I’ve found my calling now.