The most common things I was told were things like, 'oh there's nothing to tell, just enjoy them,' or 'nah, they're easy, you just feed one end and wipe the other,' 'none to give, you'll figure out what works for you,' and so on.
I have no doubt that it gets easier, but unless you're very good, very lucky, or have a fantastic support network, those first few days (at least) will be really bloody hard. Even when you're reasonably intelligent, well-prepared, have read as much as you can so you've gotten a grounding, gone to ante-natal & breastfeeding classes, etc. nothing can prepare you for the reality of what you're facing.
There is a little human being who is wonderful, who embodies the flesh and/or spirit of their parentage, whose every movement fills you with joy, it's special and amazing and beautiful - and at the same time it's the most terrifying being in the universe.
No matter how careful you are, there will be things you don't expect, or are different to what you expect, or are a complete left-field surprise. Some of these things are beautiful, some are scary.
Even with two of us, working together, backing each other up, giving the other breaks where we could, it's been bloody hard, tiring work. Infinitely rewarding, full of delights, but way harder than we were expecting, and we'd pretty much tried to prepare ourselves for something way harder than anything we'd previously experienced. Given we've lost one child and I've had a stroke, that's pretty impressive.
Everything has been pretty easy, in that there's been no illness or other nasty surprises, beyond a little nappy rash. So, even though things have gone pretty much as we expected, the stuff we expected to deal with has still been much harder and more overwhelming that we could have ever dreamed.
I have no doubt that new parents don't want to hear this, but I think it's worth hearing. Because when it's four in the morning, your baby won't settle and is in so much distress it's breaking your heart, you've got tears of frustration and tiredness running down your cheeks because you're exhausted, and you just don't know what to do - your only comfort is to know that others have been through it too, and they've not only survived but flourished and think it's worth it.
It's so worth it, and the times since have been so good, they've gone and given themselves amnesia.
They don't remember how hard that first few days after the birth were. And the other bad times just aren't that bad any more. And their amnesia only adds to your heartbreak and confusion. Because if everyone says it's easy and wonderful, then what the hell are you doing wrong?!
And the answer is, nothing.
You're doing your best, but without practical experience, nothing can prepare you for the intellectual and emotional learning curve you're in for.
Today we had the best day so far. Prior to that, we were getting more than a bit overwhelmed and run down. The plan to sleep when the baby slept wasn't working because when we weren't looking after the baby, or each other, there was so much else to do. Sharon was finding breastfeeding difficult, I was exhausted, but having trouble resting... it was hard!
But we've had a good day, and that's made all of it okay. Tonight Lex has changed the rules and been awake for six hours straight, and been unhappy for a chunk of that, but it's okay, we've had a good day. He's been screaming his way through nappy changes - but we had a good day. We now know there'll be other good days to come, so dealing with him tonight, while difficult, has been easy because we've now got hope once more.
And all it took was a single good day.
There will be other hard times, more sleepless tiring nights, times when he can't be settled and we're both feeling run into the ground, but none of that matters - we had a good day. We know we'll have another one.
And many more beyond that.
And that makes the rest of it seem not so bad. And the good days we have in future will make the hard times we are going to experience seem that much better too. It's all so easy now...
What was I talking about again?