Cue lots of post-natal panicking and 4am surfing to see whether whatever we were going through that night was normal. So here are some of the things I wish I could have told myself about my first year as a mum:

  1. It might take a wee while to sink in. When my husband first clapped eyes on our son, he immediately started blubbing. I just stared at him, gormlessly, still in shock from what felt like a firework going off in my nether regions and realising he was a boy. (Remember: your gut feeling about the gender of your child has a 50 per cent chance of being wrong.) The goggle-eyed, ecstatic, heart-bursting-out-of-your-chest love does come – but not necessarily immediately.
  2. Don’t walk around the supermarket a week after the baby’s born. “You’re brave,” a woman said, eyeing the wee fella up in the queue for the tills. I smiled quizzically at her, wondering what she was on about. Then I felt a tugging in my stomach and suddenly realised my insides were about to fall out.
  3. Your insides won’t really fall out in Sainsbury’s. But it’s worth staying on the sofa for the first fortnight, just in case.
  4. Experts have a brilliant habit of contradicting each other. I came home from the hospital with a leaflet about the dangers of sleeping with your baby, only to be told when I called the breastfeeding helpline in distress that night, that I should bring him into bed with me and fall asleep. I hung up and wailed.
  5. You may be unable to get through three Bible verses without falling asleep, but realising that God actually entrusted this tiny, helpless little creature to you does wonders for your prayer life.
  6. It is quite likely that you and your beloved (senior) will argue. Lots. You’re not getting a lot of sleep, you’ve just taken on the hardest, most important job of your lives and you haven’t got a clue what you’re doing. Keep muttering: “Love is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” to yourself and praying for the gift of patience. This, too, shall pass.
  7. Comparisons aren’t helpful. There will always be another child who can recite the alphabet at six months, or do push-ups at nine, while yours is still just about sitting up. Add to that an unhealthy dose of Presbyterian guilt – maybe the reason he’s not crawling yet is that glass of wine when I was pregnant – and you’re a quivering wreck.
  8. People think you and your baby are common property. From the random Chinese woman who pulled open my top and poked me in the breast while I was breastfeeding (yes, really) to the one who yanked my son’s thumb out of his mouth in Marks and Spencer, personal space invasion inexplicably seems to become an OK thing to do. That gift of patience would be really handy…
  9. If you’re lucky, breastfeeding will give you the magical ability to eat flapjacks at 3am without putting on any weight. But remember to wean yourself at the same time as the baby, unless you want people to think you’re already pregnant again.
  10. While we’re on the subject of weaning, you can never have enough tiny freeze-able pots for the tons of puree you will churn out. At some point, your kitchen will resemble an explosion in a soup factory and you will truly believe that the blending will never end. And when you offer your little angel the first spoonful of that humungous batch of mushed vegetable delight you slaved over all afternoon, he’ll spit it out in disgust. Patience…
  11. Your body can miraculously continue to function after several months of two hours’ uninterrupted sleep a night. You may not make a lot of sense, but you actually get used to it.
  12. However, there is quite a strong possibility your identity crisis will hit while you’re still only getting two hours’ sleep and rowing with your husband. Yes, you knew life would never be the same again, but it can take a while to get your head around what that actually means. Try talking it through with your husband instead of going nuts half way through the washing up.
  13. Your baby will not die if you leave him to cry for a few minutes. Unless he’s crying because he’s on fire.
  14. Church is AMAZING. Granted, you won’t have a clue what’s going on in the service because you’ll spend it pacing in the back with a squalling infant or contorting to avoid flashing anyone while breastfeeding, but the people are brilliant. From meals after the birth to hand-me-downs, advice and someone to cry at, you can’t beat a good church community when you’re a new parent. Enjoy.
  15. It just gets better. That first smile is fantastic – and then comes the first word, the first glimpses of his personality, singing together, laughing together, and so much more. We won’t mention the tantrums, they won’t arrive until the second year after all…
Written by Charis Gibson // Follow Charis on  Twitter

Charis is half Greek Cypriot, half Northern Irish so she’s genetically programmed to love food and a good yarn. From crime reporter to communications manager, she’s a wordsmith by trade, a God-follower by soul and recently a mum by nature. She’s becoming an expert multitasker and you’re most likely to find her tapping furiously on her laptop while scraping toddler snot off her cardie.

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