The poo rainbow
The variations of colour in your newborn’s poo is a source of wonder for any new parent. Moving from tar-like (meconium) to yellow via a spectrum of greens before settling into a less worrying brown can cause some alarm. But fear not. After the initial meconium outpour, which is a combination of amniotic fluid, mucus and skin cells, by day two to four your baby’s nappy should start to brandish something the colour of combat fatigues.
The stools of breastfed babies will become yellow or slightly green with a creamy consistency while formula-fed babies tend to resemble something more akin to peanut butter. (Apologies for the food references at this point. But if you think that’s bad, wait until they start on the solids. Oof.)
Everyone is judge and juror
From (conflicting) comments about how many layers your baby should be wearing from strangers in the street, to unsolicited advice about how why/when/where/what you should be feeding your baby from the lady at the supermarket checkout, when it comes to raising your baby everyone else thinks they know best.
But you knew that from pregnancy, when your body became a target for open commentary and uninvited touching from perfect strangers. The truth is there is no right answer to parenthood, but the closest you’ll find to one will come from within you and your own judgement, based on a bit of maternal instinct, a bit of knowledge, and a bit of blindly-feeling-my-way-in-the-dark-type-guess-work. So close your ears, step away from the endless slew of how-to baby books, and trust yourself.
From those who tut at you for blocking the baked beans in the supermarket aisle with your buggy (because surely your three-week-old should be walking by now) to those who tut when having to make room for you in the BUGGY AREA of the bus… We have no words. Well we do, but they’re quite rude.
Nothing can quite prepare you for the awesomeness of other mothers. Having a baby is a moment that galvanises old pals and acquaintances, far and wide. Be it offers of support, wine, and babysitting, or simply the odd rallying cry by text or burst of affection delivered in a card, the sense of support and kinship provided by your loved ones will never mean more. But there is something blissful, too, about the comradeship of perfect strangers, and new friends, called to arms by the joint experience of motherhood. Be it a knowing look of solidarity while your child has a pavement meltdown, or a brief chat in the park about chafed nipples…
Night sweats – or postpartum perspiration – are one more thing to add to the generous list of ‘less-than-glamorous side effects of giving birth’, which might also have you wondering if you are dying. Mainly because no-one ever warns you about them, so when you wake up a few days after having your baby to find yourself drenched in sweat and shivering, it’s a shock.
Especially as it often coincides with your milk ‘coming in’ properly, after a few days of delivering colostrum, if you’re breastfeeding, which can have the additional effect of leaving your breasts rock-hard and leaking milk. A blissful combination, you’ll agree.
Regardless how many babies you have, you will never tire of that special moment he first pees in your face, mid-nappy-change. (They can also throw up in your cleavage.)
New motherhood is nothing if not a challenge to your self-belief. A constant roller-coaster of new behaviours, new sleeping patterns (or not), new teeth… it is nothing if not ever-changing. And with every twist, everything you thought you knew falls apart again. It’s easy to think everyone else knows better, is coping better, and is just better. The truth is none of us know what we’re doing. Some of us are just better at hiding it. That should read: ‘Some of them’.