At the time of writing, I am 35 weeks and 3 days pregnant. If possible, I would give you the count not just in weeks and days but in hours and minutes too. I wish I could know that kind of detail because, in my mind, the proverb “knowledge is power” is key, and so with most things in life, be it the momentous occasions such as pregnancy or marriage, or the smaller every day occurrences like cake-making or selecting a new novel in a bookshop, I do my research and weigh up my options in the hope that in so doing I can make a balanced, informed decision and proceed with far less caution, safe (ish) in the knowledge that I’m well prepared.
Apparently, I have always been this way, not wanting to do anything until confident I can do it well. While my brother was walking at ten months, unfazed by the grazes and bruises he acquired through toddling, I crawled and bum shuffled until I was well over one, carefully observing how others managed to remain upright on just their two legs while patiently waiting until my own balancing skills were sufficiently honed before lifting myself up from all fours.
I read recipes several times over before I cook a new dish, and guests only ever receive well-rehearsed dinners. I photocopy forms and fill-in the practice version so as to be sure each required field is correctly understood and answered. When I was working in an office, my clothes would be laid out alongside my pre-packed gym bag the night before. I wouldn’t say I’m anally retentive, I just like to know where I stand and that I’ve done all I can to make a task or journey as simple – and therefore as enjoyable – as possible.
When I fell pregnant, the enormity of the changes having a child would bring about in our lives was not lost on me, and I found the concept of parenthood incredibly daunting. In fact, I think it was this, as much as the raging hormones, that led me to feel so down in the first few weeks of pregnancy. While my rational side could repeatedly assure me that millions of other women had successfully raised children before me, the niggling devil on my shoulder questioned my own capability as a mother, thereby inhibiting my excitement and smothering it in fear.
There is no practice run for motherhood.
Of course my friends and family told me everything would be fine and answered my many questions with patience and enthusiasm, but there’s only so many times you can bang on about breast-feeding, birthing options and, sorry, your dread of doing a poo during labour, before they’re either turned off, exasperated or, quite frankly, appalled. And so, not wanting to become a pregnancy bore, I found myself scouring for information elsewhere. In this day and age, that usually means one thing: the internet.
The results have been variable. There is such a wealth of online resource that it’s tough to know where to start, let alone fathom which sites are relevant, accurate and likely to help rather than scaremonger. Discovering Family Vie has been brilliant, as it not only highlights articles that tend to my abundance of queries but offers a platform for discussion so that news and opinion are no longer just words I read but something in which I’m an active participant. As a prospective mother with an insatiable need for knowledge, this has proved invaluable to my confidence and provided a space in which I feel free to share my concerns, learn from other people’s experience and thus cultivate my own ideas about parenting.
It is in this vein that the concept of Expert Novice was born. In line with Family Vie’s ethos of helping parents surmount the feeling of being overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available, I hope to take a closer look at some of the features highlighted on the site and explore the ways in which they’ve enabled me to feel more informed and – hopefully – more capable as a parent. This will then be opened out for debate, thereby creating an ongoing learning process, something I’m beginning to understand is one of the key elements of parenting.
I don’t imagine I’ll ever be an expert mother, but I am hoping I’ll be a good one. And it’s rather exciting (and reassuring) to think Family Vie and its readers could help me along the way.
And on that note, if anyone has any tips on bowel control in labour, do let me know. So far the best / only advice I’ve been given has been to submerge myself in water and pass my husband a sieve. Any less humiliating options gratefully received.