When I came home from hospital with my first baby I became obsessed with everything being ‘normal.’ Is what my baby doing normal? Am I normal? Is this normal, is that normal?
I did everything I could to check that my newborn was progressing normally. I studied developmental charts in the What To Expect books and signed up for those monthly ‘Why The Hell Is My Baby Not Doing This Yet?’ emails that list all the things your little one really should be doing by now.
If you are a brand-new parent, a quick word of advice…
Burn the books and unsubscribe from all monthly ‘milestone’ emails.
GO, QUICKLY BEFORE THE BABY WAKES UP.
Done? Good, because I assure you that for every developmental ‘milestone’ your baby hits, there will be at least five more that he hasn’t hit.
So, of course, you PANIC.
“OH MY GOD MY BABY CANNOT ROLL OVER. HE SHOULD BE ROLLING OVER BY NOW. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HIM???”
You lay the baby on the floor and attempt to coax him into rolling over.
You roll about on the floor to show him how it is done.
You give him a little nudge…
Nope. It’s official. You have a non-rolling baby.
You immediately call the health visitor. You book an appointment at the doctor, consult Google and post frantic messages on parenting forums just to be sure there is nothing wrong with your baby.
Which, of course, there isn’t.
He just doesn’t give a shit about rolling yet.
I am pretty sure I would have found early motherhood a hell of a lot less stressful if my first ‘baby milestone’ email had simply said this:
You and Your New Baby
When it comes to babies, there is no such thing as ‘normal’. They are strange little creatures who poo in their pants, cry a lot, only drink milk and have been floating in a bubble for the best part of a year.
Let’s face it, freshly ejected babies don’t even look normal. They look like blotchy little aliens covered in dried blood and crusty womb juice. But weirdly, YOU will think they are beautiful.
There’s nothing ‘normal’ about being parents to a very young baby. Waking up at regular intervals during the night and having to get up and DO stuff. Pacing around the house shushing like a demented zombie, cleaning up vomit, wiping a bum, singing , rocking, feeding – ALL when you are so tired you can barely stand up, is not normal. There is nothing remotely normal about having to carry something about all day when you have just come out of hospital. Had any situation other than childbirth left you with stitches where no women should EVER have stitches, you would be lying in bed drinking chicken soup for at least three weeks.
From the moment you arrive home from the hospital you will progress from tears to tantrums and back again countless times. At some point you will enter a fog of sleep-deprived madness and believe you JUST CANNOT DO THIS. There will be swearing, there will be screaming, but just as you are on the verge of a mental breakdown you hit the I Can Do Loads Of Shit With One Hand phase and think maybe you can do this after all.
For about three days.
Then it is very likely that you will totally freak out as it dawns on you that you have to look after this tiny human FOREVER. But rest assured, The What The F**k Have I Done? stage is typical among many new parents, as is coming to terms with the fact that nothing is remotely like you expected when you were expecting. However, this too shall pass as you move on to the I Love My Baby So Much I Have Done Nothing But Stare at Him For The Past 45 Minutes (OK Largely Because I am Too Tired Too Move But Also Because He Is Amazing) phase.
Enjoy this while you can because around the two month mark many parents experience The Big Three. This major milestone begins with the Why Won’t My Baby Sleep? stage followed closely by the What Is Wrong With My Baby? and I’m A Failure Because My Baby Won’t Sleep phases.
Your baby may or may not sleep for longer than an hour at a time. This is normal. He may barely sleep at all or sleep all day long. This is also normal. He may sleep through the night at eight weeks old; he may not sleep through the night for three years. He might like to sleep with you, on you or in a pram. Either way, he will learn to sleep through the night eventually. And you will learn not to sleep through the night eventually. So stock up on the coffee, invest in some comfortable pyjamas and do not worry. It is all just temporary.
It is a fact that 100% of human babies wake up during the night so YOUR BABY IS NORMAL. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE AND THE REASON HE WON’T SLEEP IS BECAUSE HE IS A BABY AND IT IS JUST WHAT THEY DO.
As for sitting up, rolling over, walking, talking, waving, and drinking from a damn cup. Your baby will almost certainly do all of these things at ONE point, so chill the hell out.
Oh and by the way. Nothing will ever be normal again. Deal with it.