I don’t think sisters get much closer than you and me, and I while we did think a double wedding a la Jane and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice might be on the cards one day, that didn’t quite work out as we’d hoped. My visions of us being pregnant and having kids at the same time too didn’t pan out either. Suffice to say, it was certainly great having you as a ‘Ninja Aunty’, as you like to call yourself, to my munchkins these last seven years, and so beautiful to see your nephews and older niece parade ahead of you at your wedding.
As a new mum I want you to know that you will be on a physical and emotional rollercoaster. Your body has been through a trauma and you will continue to feel like both a feeding station and a pillowy cushion for cuddles until your children are old enough to make additional requests of you as a personal slave, (cutting toast into specific shapes just to name one). Your heart has been engulfed by the most amazing and overwhelming love that will have you feeling like you’re leaving a part of you behind even when she is left with the most trusted of friends or family. Your eyes will never look at the world the same again-you will see the danger in every small and big thing and it will be even harder to read the news, especially about children. Your ears will be forever pricked to hear baby cries and the call of ‘Mum’; and your nose will smell the whiff of an unchanged nappy at a distance of ten metres. All these tremendous changes may alter the person you are to some extent but you will still be you.
The days and nights bring hours of feeding, holding, crying (from both you and the baby) as you all adjust to this new way of life. You’ve got this though. I remember that the first six weeks were the hardest and then little by little, your beautiful bubba will find her routine. It might be the old prescribed feeding at 7 am, 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm with a nap after the first and second feeds. Or it could be an early start at 6 am with two very long sleeps and cluster feeding from four till six o’clock. Or she may be like one of her cheeky cousins and only sleep thirty minutes at a time in her cot but over an hour on Mummy or Daddy’s chest. Whatever it is, you will see some sort of pattern and then you’ll be able to organise your day around that. Prepare dinner in the morning if she sleeps well then and have the couch set up with a waterbottle and your fave show for cluster feeding in the early evening. Plan a walk with bub in the pram for the part of the day that she’s crankiest; she may fall asleep if she’s on the move.
The hardest part is that there is no set rule for babies. I learnt the hard way that they are all different. First, second, third-you can raise them in the same fashion and they will still be who they will be. Noisy and demanding, cruisy and calm, good sleepers, shocking sleepers, slow feeders, fast feeders, alert, relaxed. You can read every book (I think I did), you can do everything ‘right’ but sometimes your baby will be crying and you just won’t have the answer as to why straight away. But over time you will become the expert of your baby. You will know which cry means what, which teddy she can’t sleep without, which song will always make her happy in the car when she’s crying, and will be fluent in her toddler language when she starts to say words.
You have achieved amazing things in your life: learnt other languages, lived and worked overseas, walked hundreds of kilometres on the Camino, performed your own songs live, taught kids who didn’t want to learn, started a charity, battled for the underdogs, become a gluten and fructose free vegan, been a Ninja Aunty! And while all those things make you ‘you’- strong, successful, empathetic, motivated, brave and just gosh darn awesome – I don’t know that they can ever fully prepare you for motherhood. What I’m trying to say is, you have been successful at so many things and I don’t ever want you to doubt your success as a mum. As you know in teaching that there is rarely ever a perfect lesson that goes according to plan, days as a parent similarly rarely go to plan either.
Nappies will need changing just as you are about to leave the house; the baby will vomit on you on the one day you forget to pack a spare top for yourself; she will fall asleep just as you arrive home in the car after what feels like she was crying forever; you’ll drop eggs on the floor while trying to finally cook yourself breakfast one-handed with a baby on one hip (except in your case as a vegan they’re metaphorical eggs so no stress).
You will get there and I am happy to be on call to answer any questions you have; (the answers of which I very likely may have forgotten in the fog that is my mummy brain!). I cherish every moment with you and my beautiful niece and hope I can be the Ninja Aunty that you and my sister-in-laws have been for my kids. You’ve got this, poppet. I’m looking forward to many coffee catch ups this year, watching you grow in confidence as a mummy, and sneaking baby cuddles any chance I can get.