I don't think I am alone in thinking that having a baby blows your mind. You see babies, hear babies, friends have had babies, family members have had babies! They look cute don't they? You see parents walking down the road pushing their babies in stylish buggies. Some mums with well-coiffed hair, 'made up' and dressed nicely. Some in more relaxed attire with their hair tied back, but they have one thing in common, they all seem to have it together. How hard can it be?
Everything is mapped out for you....at Primary School you spend years preparing for Secondary School, then the same for College, University. Then you go out in search of your partner for life. You find them, marry them, and have all the time in the world with just them. You stay in bed all day at the weekend, have exotic holidays together. You have time to look after yourself, go to the gym, have long showers (even together sometimes), use moisturiser after every shower, exfoliate, epilate, paint nails, straighten hair. Wow, I forgot all the things I used to do on a daily basis. Then the test says 'Positive'. "Yeah, we're Pregnant"...tears of joy, hugs, screams. Everybody is so excited, a new baby just to complete your life. You have your house how you want it, your body how you want it, your life as you want it, your career as you want it, now a baby...perfect!
Fast forward nine months, and the hardcore birth should make us realise the rollercoaster of pain we are to embark on. We read so many blogs, websites, and forums about the birth, how to prepare for the birth, what to pack for the birth, choose a Doula for the birth, try hypno-birthing, pregnancy yoga, and private antenatal care. You have it in the bag, all sorted; you couldn't be more prepared for this 24 hours (half that time if you are lucky, a quarter that time if you are really lucky). But, what about the next 18 years when they are in your care. Parents say you never stop worrying even when your children are adults. We spend 9 months planning for one day, and don't give the rest too much thought.
What do you do? You haven't read the books about the baby who doesn't sleep at night. What did that expression mean 'sleep like a baby?' You presumed babies slept like babies. You did read the bit that said breastfed babies don't get colic, so why is your baby colicky? You said you were going to enjoy Maternity leave cooking nice meals...nice meals? You can't even leave the house to buy food, never mind cook. Unless you don't mind going to the shop in your pyjamas whilst breastfeeding, and if you didn't have to pay for your groceries because there is no way you would have remembered your purse. You would have ended up sat on your doorstep until your other half got home from work because you would have forgotten your door keys and locked yourself out. The list could go on. Suddenly your life changes in the blink of an eye. You feel emotions you never knew existed. You went to University to get a Degree, but then work suddenly drops to the bottom of the pile of priorities, along with your partner who you only married last year.
You enjoyed looking 'made-up', wearing fashionable clothes, but you can't even open your eyes in the morning to see, never mind find your make-up. Your teeth are lucky to see a toothbrush everyday now. Fashionable clothes...what are they? The only things that fit are your maternity jeans that you hate with a passion and they have lost the elastic so just hang round your crotch. Or you could wear your leggings with the hole in the crotch and threadbare as you wore them so much through pregnancy. Anything breastfeeding friendly is not flattering. Your option is to wear a lovely masculine (not being sexist, I just look like a man when I wear a shirt) button shirt, or lift up from the bottom and flash your deflated balloon to people, at the same time as your milk spraying everywhere. Good luck anybody there to witness the 'breastfeeding show.' Do you remember how much you loved your partner before baby? Well now you only love them if they do all night feeds, and change all nappies, if they don't then the hormones shout 'divorce!'
Are we ever mentally prepared for children? I read an article in a Sunday Magazine about 'Babyproofing'. The founder Caroline Flanagan runs a successful life coaching company to do exactly that, Babyproof your life. Caroline coaches "pre-baby professionals" and helps them adopt strategies to achieve a healthy balance of work and family life. Her mission is to "empower women to change this fate, by helping them build successful careers that have the momentum to survive and the potential to thrive, beyond the transition to parenthood." Since reading the article in the magazine about her 'Babyproofing', I have also noticed that her coaching encompasses preparation for; Relationship, Body and Identity changes. So if you were thinking about babies one day, I would definitely recommend her.
Be warned, the 'Baby' Rollercoaster is a fast one, it will be over in no time, enjoy it!
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