It is 15 years today that I first became a mum.
It was also 15 years ago that I thought it would be good idea to rock up to a foreign country and make the single biggest transition of my life with a man I'd never even lived with before.
Yes, we'd become soulmates in a matter of seconds over a cup of strong Turkish coffee a few months previously and yes, we'd planned my move to Turkey from the UK meticulously so that my huge pregnant body would still be allowed on the plane and there'd still be time for us to have fun before the new arrival. But were we prepared?
Of course not.
Just recently, my lovely brother and his partner had their first baby. Among the most INCREDIBLE emotions I've had about becoming an auntie, seeing them through their pregnancy, birth and transition to parenthood has brought back a hella lotta memories. Mostly to do with all of the preparation. It's so hard to know how far it is appropriate to become obsessed with the arrival of your new baby, but it's definitely true that at some point you have to take some steps to greet your newborn in a way that makes things smoother for you.
Have YOU got a baby on the way?
If you're currently expecting, you might be asking yourself if you're ready for your new arrival. It's a perfectly natural question with about a zillion different answers. If you’re pregnant, you might have started nesting, which is where you basically move heaven and earth (against many of your concerned loved ones' wishes) to create the perfect little home for your family (I can still remember lifting a fridge when I was 8 months pregnant - would NOT advise).
Now I'm a major list-maker, but not everybody is. The world would be boring if we were all the same, right? But I can't help thinking that if there's no list or even an inkling of a plan to follow, it can mean that even if you've bought all the baby stuff in the world, you’re not entirely prepared.
I've put together a few key questions to help you get ready for your little one. They may be potentially annoying right now (I know they annoyed my brother when I tried to broach these with him pre-baby. Post-baby, we all know who's laughing), but if you fancy exploring some of the things you could be doing to help yourself, read on.
Do You Have The Essentials?
First, you need to work out if you have all of the essential bits and bobs. Bearing in mind you'll be getting down and dirty with nappies on the regular, you might want to think about whether you'll use disposables or reusables. And always, always making sure you've got enough (i.e. estimate more than rather than less than. They WILL get used).
Baby wipes quite literally changed my life and even today, 15 years on, I have a packet in every room (let's not even go into what a teenager needs them for). You can buy branded wipes pretty much anywhere, or, if you're quite environmentally-minded, you can look into some of the alternative solutions for this. Your baby wipe game will be strong so don't overlook this one!
Obviously, feeding is the word on everyone's lips in the world of parenting and you need to figure out what's best for you and your baby. There's no judgement on this blog (as you will know if you read it on the regs) and, from my own experience, I'd say your own wellbeing around this is paramount. Keep an open mind and you can learn as you go. If you're planning on breastfeeding, you might want to look into breast pumps and bottles too. If you're going for formula, make sure you've got plenty to get you started as well as bottles and sterilisers etc.
And I always think the fun bit is clothes and blankets. My first time round, I didn't take enough clothes to the hospital for my baby and got a few tuts from the Turkish nurses (didn't care - was far too enamoured of my beautiful baby boy) and the second time I took too much and my baby was so GIANT I did not get my money's worth out of the cutsey rainbow babygros from M&S. Oh well. You live and learn.
I think the key thing is to make a list and tick things off as you go (most satisfying).
Is The Nursery Ready?
If you have the luxury of space, you'll be wondering how to prepare the perfect room for your baby. These days, you can get furniture for your nursery on a number of sites online, whereas 15 years ago in Turkey, my husband and I resorted to nabbing a friend and his truck for the afternoon so we could pop to the local furniture store and choose a cot. It was fun, but I think I would have probably preferred to put my huge, swollen feet up and browse an online catalogue.
I guess it’s just about finding the pieces that are right for you and that are going to practically nurture your baby whilst also storing the squillions of essentials. Of course, you need a crib for your baby to stay in (maybe a Moses basket at first - these are SO cute and often come as part of a stroller package); you need an ultra-comfy chair in the room so that you can get all the baby cuddles possible; you'll need drawers for their clothes and a few other pieces. You also want to make it pretty and cosy in there, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing colours, soft furnishings and themes.
Are You As Prepared As You Can Be?
Last but not least, it's worth spending more than a minute with yourself, to ask if you're as prepared as you can be mentally and emotionally. It's a big question, and doesn't necessarily need a straightforward answer, but allowing yourself the time and space to ponder what becoming a parent means to you, is really wise. Don't have huge expectations of yourself. Give yourself a break, and understand that the sleepless nights as well as huge self-doubt will all be part of this crazy experience we call parenthood.
The relationship you cultivate with your GP, midwife and health visitor can be so important plus finding out what's available locally in terms of practical and emotional support for new parents. However, if you can take the time to be kind to yourself, you've got a brilliant head start and the magic of parenting will come to you over time.
Hopefully, you have found this blog post helpful, and now have some idea of the things that you could be considering when getting ready for such life-changing stuff. It's a super exciting time that can certainly bring stress with it too. Do what you can to minimise stress before baby gets here and don't forget I have some lovely, short mindfulness meditations on my You Tube channel which might help provide some breathing space.
For now, I wish you all the luck in the world on this incredible journey and hope you feel as prepared as possible for your little one to join your world!
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