Much is talked of the hazy, blissful early days of parenthood. Life is turned upside down, time passes in a blur, and other clichés. The clichés are all true of course but what "they" don't talk about is the fact that amongst all this, you'll be frantically watching that blurry clock and trying to fit in midwife visits, never-ending parcel deliveries and feeds among the endless (and I mean ENDLESS) parades of visitors.
You'll get the neighbours you didn't know you had inexplicably popping in of course, and you'll have your family and closest friends. But be warned. You'll also get these...
Dutiful friend you no longer have anything in common with
So you haven't seen each other in 10 years and rarely speak apart from Christmas and (when remembered) birthdays but the arrival of a new baby means that your dull housemate from university who now happens to live nearby now feels duty-bound to pop over. She will bring along a husband who has no interest whatsoever and three bemused children who have been told to be on their best behaviour even though they have NO idea who you are. She'll stand and hold the baby for an hour while you all try and find some common ground (tricky as you haven't really spoken in 10 years and it's now apparent why).
The childless friend and her bitter mother
She's one of your dearest friends and you view her mother as a surrogate so why wouldn't you want to welcome them to meet your new arrival? Here's why: Friend's Mother (who will come laden with gifts) will use the opportunity to berate her single, 30-something daughter for not providing her with a grandchild. "Oh well," she will sigh, "I can only dream...," all the while shooting longing looks at her only female offspring, "I don't suppose I'll even get to be a mother of the bride..."
Relatives you didn't even know you had
Something curious happens when you have a baby. Relatives you didn't even know you had start sending you presents, prompting panicked calls to your parents, "Who is Auntie Elsie again?!" and the need for constant stamps (they don't put stamps on the baby essentials list do they?).
What's worse is when they all troop round with bulging bags of pale pink dresses for your darling first-born, pretending not to see the kitchen blackboard on which you scrawled "My baby will never wear pink" (or swearwords to that effect) just the day before.
The preachy friends
There's nothing worse than well-meaning parents offering you their sage advice on how to handle the early days. Oh, wait, there is. It's well-meaning NON-parents offering their advice.
Usually they will be your closest lesbian friends who never got round to having a baby but if they had, by god they'd have done it brilliantly and here's how you should do it. They'll come and they'll coo as good friends do. And then the preaching will begin...
Friend with child who's been longing for you to have one too
She's helped you through your pregnancy. She's been there to answer all your baby queries and now you've sprogged she's straight round with her toddler to show you what you've got to look forward to. A screaming, teething, sticky, grisly dervish invading your post-birth bliss-bubble.
She'll come through the door with a half-torn present for you ("I just give them to her to open now, she'll only scream if I don't"), immediately switch on CITV ("Yeah we used to say we'd never let Louisa watch TV too. How wrong we were") and go outside for a cigarette while you watch helplessly as her toddler smears jam on your precious new arrival.
Do these guests sound familiar? Have you got any more to add?
More:Baby's First Year
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