1. That my body would look like a melted smiley face… and I wouldn’t be overly bothered:
I think that postnatally, women are divided into those who “ping back” and those who…don’t. I did ping back in a way… (a similar way to the elasticated waistband of my non-maternity leggings which I insisted on forcibly squeezing myself into throughout pregnancy: ) just not very well.
Two c-sections have also left me with a pretty awesome scar. My naked torso now looks like a slightly melted Mr Happy. I’m aware it could be much worse; a slightly melted Mr Sad for example or perhaps more disturbingly a slightly melted Mr Nosey?! Anyhow, the truth of the matter is I am not horrified by my new appearance… it’s not going to be featured in any swimwear catalogues anytime soon, but the tummy imperfections are only the reminders that it used to be my babies’ old house.
When I first fell pregnant with my son, one of my biggest fears was how I was going to look, whether I’d get stretch marks etc. These shallow worries were wiped clean from my mind when he was born too soon. I often found myself saying I would have given ANYTHING to have kept him in my tummy until he was fully cooked; usually to the slightly insensitive people who tried to make ‘light’ of our situation by saying: “At least you didn’t get any stretch marks!” My first pregnancy didn’t leave me with stretch marks… and I’m surprised it didn’t leave me with bite marks in my tongue! These days I’m accepting of my reflection; I’m not overweight or unhealthy- I’m just a little bit squishy round the edges…and at this point in time… surprisingly…I’m cool with that.
2. The meaning of the word ‘tired’:
Pre baby; I threw the old chestnut of “I feel tired…” around willy-nilly, frankly like it was going out of fashion. Tiredness used to be self inflicted; nights out, staying up late- because in the olden times I went to bed after 9pm etc. These days the harsh reality of being TIRED tired is all too apparent.
Until you have experienced, days, weeks, months of little to no sleep; I cannot begin to explain the horridness. I genuinely Googled if you could die from sleep deprivation at one point-that’s how concerned (and dramatic) I was. (For those of you interested; it turns out that you can… it’s even used as a torture technique…shudder.. .but it’s very difficult to actually die… because as you may have guessed sometimes you fall asleep first.)
For future parents reading this blog, don’t sweat it; it’s just a rite of passage into parenthood… this too shall pass. You will find your own ninja coping mechanisms in no time. With my darling daughter, I have attached her cot to the side of my bed so her bed is literally an extension of my own… when she wakes I stretch out an arm- scoot her across to me… wap out a bazooma, feed her… scoot her back… jobs a good’un! My feet don’t touch carpet; neither do I sit upright at any point through the night. Lazy? Hell yes! But when you’ve got a two year old too…laziness often comes disguised as ninja-ness. You’re welcome.
3. Baby pooh is officially the strangest substance on the planet:
I can only comment on breastfed babies as I’ve never changed the nappy of a formula fed baby before… but breastfed babies’ pooh meets none of your pre-conceived ideas about what pooh looks or smells like. It is a bright yellow, horrifically yet interestingly bizarre substance, which has, in terms of fragrance – what I call- “a touch of the hob-nobs.”
Babies can literally fire it from their behinds into every crevice and cranny they possess. I have even had disturbing experiences where frankly the babe needed to be bathed because -somehow- it had reached their hair?? I’ve also experienced clean-up operations as high as the armpit, and that age old favourite- ‘The Baby Grow Challenge’- where you must attempt to remove a pooh covered baby grow from your cherubim without it touching them… a kind of ‘operation’ for parents. Often, I remain calm and accept the challenge using baby wipes now -but in the early days 125 cotton balls… I am however, often reminded that in such terrible circumstances; you are best off just calling upon the services of the bath or shower. Baby pooh has a kind of greasy texture to it so sometimes wiping with baby wipes or cotton wool soaked with water just doesn’t cut- it… imagine if you had gotten butter all over your hands and then you tried to just wipe it off with a baby wipe-and you get the idea.
I had absolutely no idea of any of this! Nor was I aware of the evolution of pooh in those early days of life. (Again this is probably due to me not getting chance to read that bit in the book.) Baby pooh starts off black, (looks like an oil slick has occurred in your baby’s undercrackers) then it goes green before achieving the goal of yellow. In special care with the boy, it was a couple of days before he pooed… we also had to monitor it very closely because his digestive system was so immature. I remember chatting to a gorgeous couple we became friends with (whose daughter was little man’s roommate) about which ‘stage’ of pooing our little ones were at. I remember a small twang of jealousy when their little beauty achieved gold first. Being a parent makes pooh normal, you will discuss it, you will worry about it, you will inspect it. Without doubt…you will spend a great deal of time cleaning it off stuff!
4. I would cry myself to sleep because I was genuinely frightened I was going to look like Dominic Littlewood by morning:
NOBODY warns you that some women lose their hair after they have a baby. My hair fell out in fistfuls; I would wake to find my pillow resembled a small afghan hound. Showers were emotional too as within 3 minutes the bathtub always started to fill due to the keratin plug I had unintentionally created. My hair line began to recede and I was honestly terrified I was going to lose the lot. Thankfully I didn’t. For pregnant mamas; apparently hair loss after birth is common because those lovely pregnancy hormones prevent your hair from naturally falling out as it would do normally… hence the associated luscious locks. When the baby is born and you wave goodbye to the pregnancy hormones. .. don’t be surprised if those luscious locks do one too.
5. Baby cry paranoia… is an annoying and very real condition:
As the name suggests, this condition involves an intermittent paranoia that rears it’s head whilst you are not in the same room with your baby- and makes you believe that you can genuinely hear them crying… Examples may include:
- Being in the kitchen cooking dinner whilst your partner is taking care of the children; you hurry through to the living room because you can hear the baby crying… but they aren’t.
- Taking a shower while your baby takes a nap (THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS) you think you hear your baby cry; you either:
a) Turn off the shower and wait…a shivering and soapy mess… to hear if the baby is crying… 98% the time they aren’t
b) Rush from the shower… a shivering and soapy mess… to find your baby… sound asleep… exactly as they were 2.5 minutes ago…when you left for a shower. You then follow a sodden trail of carpet footprints back to the shower, to await the next attack… which is usually 30 seconds after getting warm.
I have no explanation for this condition… it does wear off… I think/hope.
6. The words to ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’:
Now, I have argued that this is due to my southern roots; but I had NEVER EVER heard the nursery rhyme ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’ in ALL my days until I became a parent. This has since been contested and I have had to resign myself to the fact that I was either very ignorant or very sheltered from bobbins as a child.
I sometimes take the babes to a local play group in a village not far from me. At the end of each session they wrap it up by producing a little cotton bag filled with a range of nursery rhyme themed objects. Everyone sits in a circle including the parents (between 4 and 8 parents let’s say) and looks on confidently whilst each little darling chooses an object from said bag before singing the associated nursery rhyme all together. Now, as it’s only a small group- the grown ups voices are very distinguishable -so any mistake is painfully audible. As a result; I would genuinely feel myself start to sweat excessively as the last 5 minutes of the session approached. When we all sat on the carpet I would be praying to baby Jesus that my beautiful boy would pick anything but the BOBBIN!!!! I would even whisper words like “star” and “mice” really quietly into his ear in the hope he’d pick up on my sly subliminal messages…
After a few months, and the realisation that my lack of lyrical knowledge surrounding ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’ was preventing me from reaching my full potential as a mother; my husband and I made a noted effort to learn the words… AND ACTIONS with a little help from YOUTUBE. I am now proud to announce I bust some serious shapes to that bad-boy rhyme. At the end of playgroup; I’m now sweating with excitement and praying to baby Jesus the boy picks that bobbin!!!! My absolute favourite was witnessing the look on my boys face when my husband and I sang it to him for the first time (obvs complete with actions)… he looked at us like we were the actual coolest. Yes my dear boy, I am down with the kids. I have no doubt I will be YOUTUBE-ing all sorts of delights over the coming years in my quest to retain that title. BOOM.
7. I could love something more than I loved my dog:
The way you love your children is honestly insane… I could gush on about this one for a whole blog entry- but I’ll save you that joy. Simply know there is nothing like it on the planet; no matter how much you think you love your dog. This little quote (can’t find the author’s name anywhere) sums it up beautifully:
“Every morning I wake up wondering how I could ever love you more than I already do. Then, there it is… a look, a smile, a laugh… and somehow I just do.”
8. Why middle aged women + join the WI, enter village baking competitions etc…
I have absolutely no idea what I did before I had children. I barely remember myself without them. I am sadly and un-ashamedly obsessed. When the time comes for them to fly the nest I’m going to need something to fill my time with; in the hope my arms won’t notice that they’re empty. I am going to be joining village committees, The W.I, and growing massive marrows… just so you know.
Big Love… as ever.
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