Having a baby and becoming a parent for the first time is seriously scary. Whatever society throws at us about what a magical time it is, something deep down tells every new Mum that there is something seriously scary ahead. We tend to push these feelings down and don't always voice them, even to our nearest and dearest, but they are there whether we like it or not.
That is why I think having a baby for the first time is a bit like bungee jumping.
Like having a baby, bungee jumping is seriously scary, but if you go in for it, you tend to do it voluntarily whether you are 100% sure about it or not!
To bungee jump you get all kitted out in a harness and get given a safety waver and maybe some instructions from the jump operator. To have a baby you get yourself kitted out to a much bigger degree usually, with everything you can think of from cute nursery decor to sleep aids and onesies in every size imaginable. But no matter how much stuff you buy, how many safety precautions you've taken, or how many parenting courses you've taken or books you've read, you will still find yourself - like with bungee jumping - on the precipices of the unknown.
With your bungee jump, when you finally do jump off and are free falling through the air you will inevitably get a mix of adrenaline, and thoughts of 'oh my god, what have I done, I might die here', which in my experience is much the same as those first few weeks and months of parenting:) When you are bungee jumping that feeling is followed by the spring of the cord and a feeling of freedom and exhilaration.
That might not sound too familiar to exhausted and brow beaten new parents, but now that I'm a second time parent I know there is a lot in our mindsets that determines how bearable some of the lows of parenting are. What if we equated the adrenaline and exhilaration of a bungee jump with the post birth highs (medicated or otherwise), the smell of a new baby's head, or the warmth of having them cuddled up skin to skin? And what if we could get the feeling of freedom from owning the fact that we are in charge here. We may be winging it and free falling but we also have complete freedom to become the kind of parents we want to be.
For me as a new Mum with my first son I tended to spend too much time tethered to what other mums were doing with their babies or what I thought I was 'supposed' to do. I was looking for that securing harness to keep me safe. But it didn't work. It was only when I let go off trying to put my son down in a cot or making a definitive decision about whether I was breast or bottle feeding that we found our groove together. I overcame my fear of co-sleeping and we both slept better and in the end that probably helped with our feeding issues too. I'm not suggesting anyone bungee jumps without a harness of course, but perhaps in parenting we don't need the same restraints as we do for jumping off of a bridge!
[Me with son no. 1 approx. 6 months old]
With my second son I have enjoyed his first months more as I have genuinely worried about less - and kept track of less. I don't always know how many times we've woken up a night or how many times or for how long he's fed, or exactly when he 'should' nap again, but I do know when he's happy and when he needs me to step in and make things better for him. And that's a framework that has worked for me. I am not knocking parents who thrive on routine and apps and data, I'm just saying I've found a sort of parenting freedom that came ironically when I let go of trying to have a handle on it all. I have found the whole transition from Mum to be to Parent of two to be an exercise in free falling and letting go - of other people's expectations, but also of the person I was before, the habits I had before and the lifestyle I had before. There may be some people who can slot kids into their existing life rather than having to change their whole outlook to fit the kids...but I'm not one of them!
Leaving my well paid full time job to start this business is a symptom of this exercise in parental bungee jumping I've been through. In the end I had to follow my instinct about what would be important to me 5 or 10 years from now - the bank balance or having been around more for my kids.
[son no. 2 modelling the goods:)]
It can be hard to follow that instinct though, whether is it about how you make a living after the baby arrives or where they should sleep or how you should feed them. As much freedom as there is in it, being 'in charge' is seriously, seriously scary and we will all have moments when we feel like 'oh shit I don't know what I'm doing and I feel like I might die' (imagine the bungee jumping again here!).
It is with these moments in mind that we developed our New Mama Necklace and the message that goes along with it. In fact it's a lot more about the message and the sentiment than the necklace itself.
I wanted first of all a baby shower gift that was for New Mums and Mums to Be not just for the baby, as it truly is a monumental life change to become a new parent and we should take the time to acknowledge that.
Second I wanted to include a message that conveyed some of the wisdom I feel like I've gained in my short time so far as a parent.
The message inside the packaging reads: