I would sum up becoming a mum as: harder than I thought it would be (but then I THOUGHT it was going to be easy) but not as hard as some people make it out to be (however I am well aware I DO have a very 'easy' baby).
I think I'm someone who doesn't like to be told what to do, so the 'learning' aspect of NCT was somewhat wasted on me. Spending £350 and two of my precious BB (Before Baby) Saturdays in a church hall being told I had to plan going to the toilet around when my partner would be home seemed ludicrous (and 6 months on the job, I can confirm you can go to the toilet whenever you so wish!). But everyone knows you do NCT to make mummy friends and I'd pay £1000s to meet them so it's all worth it in the end.
Having a newborn baby is so hard to describe and I feel like I've already forgotten that tiny short window. Whilst you're in that moment, days feel like weeks. But now months feel like weeks and I'm sure that in a blink of an eye years will feel like months and my tiny baby will be grown up.
Yes, they sleep a lot but unless you never leave the house and don't take a shower, you can forget the classic line "sleep when they sleep". When they sleep you have to stealthily do all the tasks you previously had so much time for. And you have to break them up as the naps are interspersed with feeding and nappy changing, the classic 'eat, sleep, poop, repeat'.
In the early days getting out of the house was a military operation: wake up, nappy, feed, nappy, sleep, shower, wake up, nappy, feed, nappy, sleep, get dressed, wake up, nappy, feed, nappy, sleep, pack bag, wake up, nappy, feed, nappy, sleep, LEAVE HOUSE! Obviously I could have avoided all of that by not leaving the house but my number one piece of advice to anyone would be to get out of the house as much as possible. It can get really lonely (and pretty boring) to be stuck at home all day. So I just got on and did it.
One of the best things I did was, when my baby was 4 weeks old, to go on a day trip from London to Brighton. I went with 3 other girls I met at NCT and we had such a great day. The outing gave us all a feeling of a great sense of accomplishment. If I read this paragraph during the BB stage, I'd have thought 'I don’t give a sh*t - it's only getting on a train to Brighton'. But doing it made me realise that I was by no means housebound. And so the maternity leave adventure began! (Side note: we are now planning an overnight stay in Paris)
I think that the most important lesson I learnt during those first months is the understanding that EVERYTHING passes. I feel like I really didn't understand that, or perhaps I just didn't listen. Take breastfeeding, I just found it incredibly demanding as my baby fed for 45 minutes each feed and needed feeding every 2 hours. Yes, it's normal but what I really needed is for someone to say: "She'll be like that for 6-8 weeks". Six months down the line she feeds for 10 minutes every 4 hours or so, and her little mouth is like a magnet to my boob; we're both experts and literally do it with our eyes closed!
That's just one of the many little things I've learnt along this journey. Some have already been and gone, others we're still working out and we'll have plenty more challenges to face. I've had the best 6 months of my life and I can't wait for my little girl to wake up so we can have another day full of adventure!