When I was expecting my first child I read every pregnancy book I could get my hands on. I knew, almost to the day, what should be happening to me and why, could tell you at any given week of pregnancy what size the baby would be and could sort a Braxton hicks from the real thing in a heartbeat.
The only thing I forgot to read up on? Life once the baby is born!
Within one short sharp cry, life changes forever. Things that seemed important in a previous life are no longer even on your radar, and worries that had never even entered your mind before are suddenly keeping you awake at 3am.
Every cough, every rash, every raised temperature fills you with a fresh wave of worry. Your innate need to protect this mini human you created takes over every fibre of your being. Your purpose in life becomes to keep this bundle of love safe from the world.
In a life before children illness was a pretty simple thing, but add children into the mix and the floodgates open to a whole host of things you never even knew existed.
It starts with colic and reflux. Who knew babies weren't just crying for fun? Everyone has an opinion on how best to help settle the baby, whether you ask for them or not, but it's a midfield trying to work out what to do for the best. Dr Google, mummy blogs and parenting forums are you friend, and occasional foe, in those early days of motherhood.
As your wriggling bundle of joy grows the worries do too. Mixing with other children, be it in a childcare setting or groups you attend together, brings with it a whole rush of new illnesses sent to test you. Contagious diseases, such as chicken pox or Scarlett fever, spread from child to child so easily. The first time the text comes through from day-care to say they have had an outbreak of something will stop you in your tracks. You want to stop your child ever being ill, it's never nice to see them suffer, but sadly you cannot protect them from everything.
Even when precautions can be put in place to halt the spread, in the case of Molluscum Contagiosum for example, it's not always that easy. If you have never heard of the condition, how would you know how to prevent it?
Nits, ringworm, cradle cap, threadworm, conjunctivitis….the list is endless. All things that are common in childhood but often seen as taboo. Why don't us parents talk about it? Why do we shy away from the subject? We need to stick together!
The best advice I've had as a parent has come from tips shared at the school gate or answers to a plea for help on Facebook and Twitter. There is an age old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, I think they had a very good point. So, my advice to all new parents is to make the most of your family, friends and community, both on and offline! Their experiences will ensure that you are up-to-speed and prepared for all the weird and wonderful conditions that your child may experience. Good luck!