‘Welcome to the Thunderdome’ – these were the four most significant words I read in the days after giving birth to my son. They came in the form of a text message from my older brother in acknowledgement of the arrival of his nephew (he’s a chap of few words and a father of a small child). At the time I think I laughed. A couple of weeks later I wasn’t laughing, I was nodding sagely, at the words of this wise, wise man.
Let’s be honest, I don’t care how many times you’ve done it when you have a baby things go to shit, a bit. No one actually says this to you in your antenatal classes in-between fondling knitted boobs and trying to untangle your cloth nappies from your fabric slings. It’s all about the birth, candles, water, music, massage, deep breathing, lovely. I’d be the first to say to any expecting mum ‘I hope all your birth dreams come true, I really do‘ but having a baby is actually got very little to do with giving birth and everything to do with surviving the first few weeks/months looking after a tiny human being.
In amongst the bleary-eyed mêlée of new motherhood, the 21st century mum has a peculiar and relatively new issue to contend with and that issue is the cavernous and unpredictable labyrinth that is the internet…..
As perverse as this may sound coming from someone who writes a blog, my first piece of advice for any new mum would be ‘stay off the bloody internet’. You are in a fragile mental, physical and emotional state and the internet is full of CRAZY PEOPLE who you don’t know. Literally anything you Google (and you will Google the shit out of everything) you will find someone who agrees with what you need to hear 100% right alongside a mother of seven from Louisville, Kentucky who thinks that women who did not have the presence of mind, body and soul to push a tiny human out of their vagina as the good Lord intended, unaided by medical intervention, should be cast away to damnation. I’m not even making this up; the American websites take it to a whole ‘nother level of crazy.
The point is, you have no real control over what you read, and when you Google the phrase ‘best way to formula feed a two week old baby’ only to be metaphorically smacked in the face by a woman from Australia raging about the crime against human-kind that is feeding babies poison in bottles, it can really knock your confidence/render you incapable of doing anything other than sitting on the floor of the nursery in tears. I know a mum who put a voluntary internet embargo on herself as she was scaring herself half stupid self-diagnosing all the things that could be wrong with her baby that wouldn’t sleep. It just isn’t worth the stress, I wish I hadn’t done it.
So, how to really deal with this? Well I am a great believer in the old adage that the best defence is a good offence. I would highly recommend that in months running up to the big day you go hunting for a little bit of the internet that can be a safe place for you. Be it a forum*, a blog, a website, a local Facebook group, out there will be people who share your views on the world – whatever they may be (even God fearing anti-caesareanists from Kentucky). Basically an arsehole-free zone where you can go to get real support/distraction at 3am.
I know that searching for bottle feeding support, in particular, can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. To this end I’ve done a little list for you, working on the assumption that if you’re reading this blog you kind of think a bit like me here’s a run-down of my go-to website and blogs. They aren’t all strictly formula related and they follow a general theme of being a bit sweary and hilarious. So in no particular order, here’s my favourite corner of the internet…..have fun!
Suzanne Barston is an American. She began writing about infant feeding issues after struggling to breastfeed her first child, and finding virtually no guidance or support when she switched to formula feeding. Her personal quest for information turned into a website, a blog, a book and a whole community of like-minded mums from all over the world. I’d really recommend this to any mum starting out bottle feeding its full of advice, articles and tips and the Facebook page has a private group you can join for when you need to rant…..and let’s face it we all need to sometimes.
In a similar vein to FFF but started by a Brit – former BBC journalist Madeleine Morris. Full of advice and critical review of articles, a mine of very useful information and support for the formula feeding or mixed feeding family. She’s also published a book which I highly recommend.
Pregnant Chicken aka Amy Morrison is a threat to y’all with a withered pelvic floor. I first came across her blog when I was pregnant and in need of some straight talking. She pulls no punches and is responsible for this post about ‘birthing dolls’.
Anyone who’s in my mum network will know all about this one but, hell, if you haven’t read what can only be described as the anti-Super Mum blog to end all blogs written by mother of two and master of the profane Sarah Turner you are in for a treat! Her open letter to the ol’ Duchess on her impending arrival is too good!
Another highly amusing American parenting blogger with a knack for telling it like it try her 8 Signs You’ve ‘Arrived’ as a Mum post for starters.
Well, what can I say about the delectable Kirsty Smith of Eeh Bah Mum? For me she is the fairy blog mother of all the down to earth, warts and all, don’t judge me for not being perfect, parent bloggers out there. Having a hard time with the terrible twos? try Toddler Tantrums: what the f*ck am I doing wrong? or if you’re after some holiday ideas try Top 10 reasons to visit Denmark with Toddlers, I think you’ll agree she is ace.
That brings us neatly to the Ugly Volvo, stand-up comedian and Jersey City resident her recent post bringing to public attention the weirdness that is the bedroom in Goodnight Moon is a seminal piece of 21st century blogging, it certainly had me thinking deep thoughts.
And that concludes my list, for now. If just one frazzled mum out there finds one mirthful laugh somewhere in the above and manages to regain a grip on reality long enough to really realise that she is doing just fine, she’s not along and that it wont always be so hard, then my work here is done.
*You will actually notice an absence of forums. You all know the big ones anyway and I have to say I am not a huge fan of them. Way too much scope for crazy ‘advice’ from people who can’t spell and use acronyms that I don’t understand what the fuck is a DH or an LO anyway, anybody??