"You won't be that happy once number two's arrived," announced a smug voice from nowhere. Excuse me?
The smug voice was real and belonged to a middle-aged woman who happened to be sitting near me in the café. But the voice stands for a collective gaggle of parenting doom-mongers who, when you are pregnant, it's very hard to avoid.
When I was pregnant with my first, I was actually fairly upbeat about the whole thing. My partner was laid-back about how we'd manage and I was confident that I could manage on not much sleep but still it didn't stop people from trying their very best to knock the wind out of our sails.
"Make the most of sleeping now BECAUSE YOU WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN," is the favourite, trotted out by friends, strangers, relatives.
Well, one year in and I can report several good nights' sleep, thanks very much, and quite a bit of relaxing (in fact, probably more than when I was running around like a blue-arsed fly trying to write 18 articles a week instead of 10).
And as for the birth itself, not once did anyone tell me what I found to be the actual truth for my own situation; that at the time, yes, it would hurt but would soon be over and there's a baby at the end of it.
No, it had to be "THE WORST PAIN YOU WILL EVER FEEL EVER," "YOU WILL NEVER WANT TO GET PREGNANT AGAIN," "YOU WILL REGRET NOT HAVING DRUGS".
One friend's mother even helpfully told me I would feel like I was actually dying. Er, thanks...
I have written before about the sense of dread new parents are expected to have that their lives and houses will never be the same again. I can't tell you how many people gleefully warned me that our gorgeous oak floor would have to go, in favour of a baby-friendly carpet.
"You'll soon see you can't have nice things when you have a baby," they crowed, "all your nice pictures will be replaced with Peppa Pig things". Hmm. Still got the floor, still got our own pictures on the walls, still got taste. I still go to choir, I still walk the dogs, I still wear make-up and paint my nails and I still have long, languorous baths.
A relative told me, with some satisfaction, that I wouldn't be able to listen to as much music once I became a parent. I have to say, if anything, I listen to more music now as I am keen to share my passion with my child (for the record, she LOVES Nick Cave and Salt n Pepa).
Music is something we can all participate in, not a vestige of a long-lost part of my life that I had to say goodbye to as soon as sperm and egg met.
Why do we do this? Some people think it's borne from a genuine desire to show solidarity, to let people know that they've been there too.
But one year on and I have no burning wish to show new parents 'what they're in for'. If anything, I am going out of my way to reassure terrified newbies that their lives won't end.
The fact is that you don't find many people who cheerfully say, "Oh I regret having children and wish I'd never bothered." For most of us, it's a life-changing and wonderful experience that we, in the main, enjoy. So why can't we pass this salient fact on to expectant parents?
Why can't we bring ourselves to say, "Of course your life WILL change but it will almost certainly change for the better. You'll find yourself staring at your baby in wonder for hours at a time and you'll be so consumed with love that you'll wonder what life was all about before."?
I'm certainly not saying that everyone has an easy time of it all the time but what is possibly to be gained from gleefully warning people that they're in for a rough ride before they've even started?
So, if there are any mums and dads-to-be reading this, listen up. Having a baby is pretty much great. You WILL sleep again. You WILL be able to go to cafes. You WILL be able to read a book, drink wine, eat biscuits and listen to David Bowie.
More:Is It Just Me?
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