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There is no short answer to this question. But the fact that you want to do the best for your child is a good start. Most parents, if asked would tell you that it takes a lifetime of learning to be a good parent. You will grow with your child. And no matter how much you read about childcare, you will always be learning something new. This is what makes parenting such a challenge.
Physically, things may well be harder for you in terms of sleepless nights and all the energy that having a new baby requires. Emotionally , older parents are often better prepared and more resilient than their younger counterparts. Having a child around will also broaden your horizons as you find yourself doing things you thought you had given up long ago. Don’t worry about your age, the important thing is your willingness to give your child all the love and support that are needed.
Very few people approach parenthood without some fears about their suitability and worry that they will be unable to cope with the extra pressures. This is natural, but there is no need to panic. There are several ways both of you can prepare yourselves for what will be a demanding and yet hugely rewarding part of your lives.
Contemplating pregnancy without the father of your child does not mean that you have to go through the birth on your own. Family or friends are often only too pleased to get involved. You can choose an alternative partner such as a friend or sister who can be with you at the antenatal classes and during the delivery.
If you are a single mother, it will help if you have good, reliable friends or family to assist you with baby-sitting, morale-boosting, and general all-round back-up. It is probably a good idea to establish a network of other single parents in your area with whom you can share your problems and solutions. There are several organizations and support groups for single parents, perhaps with a local group in your area. Make contact as soon as you can.
Remember that you are not the only one in your situation. Although being a single parent is not easy, more and more women are finding themselves in this situation, whether by choice, or because of the death or absence of a partner. Until it happens, you cannot predict how you will cope with the stresses and demands of single parenthood. Most single parents do cope, however. Few mothers ever regret having had their child, with or without a partner.
If you are a single mother, your relationship with your child may be closer and you should be able to look after you baby in your own way. The relationship will also be more demanding because you will be the main focus for your child’s love and for his or her needs.
You will probably not be quite your old self again because you are changing both physically and emotionally. Childbirth makes a woman mature very rapidly. Once you have been through the pregnancy and birth and have your own baby to care for, you will find that you have a different set of priorities. Try to look at it this way, having a baby is probably one of the most difficult and at the same time most rewarding experiences in life-go with it and enjoy your achievement.
Many women experience this fear, you want to be a mother in your own unique way and not simply follow your mother’s example. Of course, this also depends on the relationship you have or had with your mother. The relationship with your child, however, will be an entirely new one, although certain parallels may exist. You will find yourself taking pointers and examples from the good things you remember in your mother, and develop your own skills at the same time.
This cannot be predicted. You may find the moment when you first hold your baby is so magical that it is no longer difficult to see yourself as a mother, but do not feel guilty if this is not the case, because it can take some time to bond. It should not be a question of transforming yourself, but rather of experiencing a natural feeling of love towards your baby. Being a good mother, however, takes time and practice, and is a learning process that takes a lifetime.
There is a great deal to learn about childbirth and your role as a supporter in labour. You can make time to attend antenatal visits and parent education sessions together. Often these classes offer a dads-only session, giving you a chance to have queries answered, you will also meet other fathers-to-be and perhaps in talking or listening to them you will realize more and more that this is just as much your baby as it is your partner’s.
What are your partner’s expectations? Find out what her needs are and then try to accommodate them. Certainly, the very least she will want is that your provide emotional support for her at antenatal visits, during the delivery, and after the birth, also that you provide practical help with the baby, especially in the first months after the baby is born. As long as you are willing and happy to do this, you are probably a fair way towards being the partner and father she wants.
The fact that you are worrying is probably a good sign that you want to do your best. No amount of books or classes can ever quite prepare you for this wonderful experience. You can learn how to change nappies and look after the baby, but this is merely the beginning. Remember that fathers are made, not born. You and your be learning how to be good parents. Talk to your partner about your worries. Realize too that instant perfection is impossible.