While having a newborn initially seems like a completely overwhelming prospect, in the few days I've been a new mum, I've found that it quickly boils down to this: for the first few weeks of motherhood (or possibly forever? I'll have to get back to you on that), you are no longer an autonomous being.
Instead, your role in life is to appease the whims of an 8 lb creature with constant demands – to be changed, cleaned, cuddled and fed. As for your basic needs – showering, eating, sleeping – they've become little luxuries that you enjoy in the rare moments you can, but they're no longer a given.
My darling 8 lb-er is named Diana, and on a regular basis, when I'm not a slave to her somewhat brutal regime of blood-curdling shrieks (which all translate to 'I want to be fed, now!' even if she was just fed 20 minutes ago), I am staring in awe at this amazing person who cannot speak or even smile, but whom I completely adore.
I am besotted, despite the fact that as a result of her cries, I haven't slept in days (yet I am somehow more energised than ever, pumped full of euphoria – and the occasional caffeinated drink – which is leading me to wonder how much more I could have achieved in life if I had spent the last 10 years only sleeping two to four hours a night).
After the initial reign of terror on the first night we brought Diana home (a completely traumatising experience for both my partner and myself: he was scarred from changing over 15 nappies filled with meconium – the revolting, tar-like first poos of the baby, while I was devastated that I couldn't feed my child, who spent the night howling in despair and pounding my chest with the world's smallest fists as she dug her nails into her cheeks in frustration and stuffed her chubby little arm into her mouth instead of my nipple because it was apparently doing a better job than I could), we got the hang of things. Sort of.
Basically, we learned that every time she cries, she wants to eat, and I figured out how to feed her. (Naturally, my partner is thrilled because he realised this means he can sleep, although he's still pretending to be pulling all-nighters when anyone asks).
I'm not only breastfeeding because it's known to be very beneficial for babies, but also because when you're lazy like I am, offering your child a nipple is a lot easier than mixing formula and sterilising and heating bottles at 2, 4 and 6 am (and, yes, I have been up at all of those hours and many minutes in between). Also, I plan to splurge on a pair of ridiculously extravagant heels with all the money I'm saving from not buying formula.
The most exciting part of the decision to breastfeed so far hasn't only been that it provides lovely bonding time with my baby (and ample opportunities to watch my favourite TV shows), but the moment when my milk came in and I realised that even though I was three days postpartum, if I ever had any fantasies of appearing in Playboy, this was my moment .
I took some photos as a reminder. Unfortunately, my X-rated chest was accompanied by bulging veins, protruding milk ducts and extraordinary pain (it's known as engorgement and it's not pretty).
In fact, even though my assets are now on display almost constantly – and in public, no less – the overall effect is more comical than anything else. I am constantly leaking milk through my clothes, one nipple likes to squirt milk at random and while accessories used to mean jewellery or a handbag, they now include soaking-wet breast pads and a nursing pillow, which I drag from room to room.
I'm starting to feel a bit like a cow. But hey, that isn't necessarily a bad thing – as long as I'm feeding my little calf enough.