Long before Milin arrived, I used to wonder how my mum knew the answers to life’s little mysteries. As a child, I wondered if there was a secret book mums were given in hospital when they gave birth. I wondered if it was divided into chapters such as ‘how to do practical things’ (like clean up a graze, put a plaster on, and make an injured child feel better), ‘how to get a child to eat their vegetables’, and ‘how to sew name tags onto clothes so they don’t fall off’.
It wasn’t until a few months into my pregnancy that I faced up to reality. There was no book. Of course, there are lots and lots of books, but there was no one book which would suddenly give me magical mummy powers.
Still, I read many, many books – or at least parts of them – before realising that none were going to instill in me an innate ability to understand a crying newborn, or help them get back to sleep. I was terrified. How would I know what to do?
Today, the Little Mister and I visited a friend who is due to have her own little one any day now. We talked about having a baby in the winter. I have no idea, I admitted, whether I am over dressing Milin at night. But as well as confiding in her about all the things I don’t know, (such as how to get him to sleep through the night, or take formula, or eat solids) I surprised myself because I also had snippets of advice based on the things I do know, or am slowing working out.
It’s not that I always know what Milin wants. Most of the time I don’t. But sometimes I do, and, each day, I know a bit more than the day before.
Perhaps my advice was obvious. Feed them lots – they feed all the time! Burp them often – honestly, I didn’t know to do this before Milin came along – and if they want to sleep on you let them. (It works for me.)
And as I talked about how I have learnt to settle Milin (cuddles, lullabies, swaddle and rocking), how he likes to be burped, and how he needs to be somewhere without distractions in order to feed well – I realised how much I had learnt in five months.
So when I got home and he refused to take a bottle again, and I couldn’t get him to sleep, again – I reminded myself that we are both still learning. And in five months, I might not have acquired all the magical mummy powers that are out there, but I have gained some.