It was a bit of a shock to me, having a baby. I really thought, after all those months of conversations with seasoned mummies, I had a pretty good idea about what it was going to be like and that I was ready for it. But I really, really was not.
I'm actually not talking about the baby part of it. Having spent so long with her squirming around inside, kicking me in the ribs when she fancied a jacket potato, by the time I set eyes on Ava I knew her already.
I was among the lucky majority of new mothers whose bond with their baby comes fast and strong. Undoubtedly, I was a bit bleary, but those first few weeks were emotionally electric. If I could bottle that feeling and sell it, well, I'd be richer than Simon Cowell.
The practical side of looking after our daughter came relatively easily too. I did feel like we were muddling along there for a while – many call it 'going on instinct', I called it 'guessing'. But every day, she was fed, bathed, played with, taken out, gazed at lovingly. Every moment represented a new experience with her and her daddy and I relished all of it.
No, the hard part of having a baby was the new relationship I suddenly had with my flat and everything in it. We had never spent so much time in each other's company before and it put a bit of strain on things.
Perhaps because all the baby stuff came so naturally, I thought the rest of it would come naturally too. It was a bit disappointing to discover that, when it came to being a housewife, I was really rubbish.
I did everything the wrong way round. I'd sweep the kitchen floor, then clean the worktops and cover the floor in crumbs again. The carpet, now spending so much more of its time beneath my feet and those of visiting friends, refused point blank to hoover itself.
Eating all my meals at home, instead of having breakfast and lunch at work, meant I was suddenly the source of endless dirty plates and cups. The dishwasher was always full – but never the right sort of full. When I wanted a clean cup, it was stuffed with last night's dishes. When I wanted to fill it with the pile of dirty plates staring at me from the sink, it was rammed with clean things that needed putting away first.
The mountains of crockery were one thing, but it was the washing that was my Everest. Dear lord, the washing! I had never been particularly fond of the laundry basket, but I found myself really missing the sight of the bottom of it. Where did it all come from?!
Her clothes were tiny, of course, but with all the sickie burps and exploding poos, Ava was having more costume changes than Anne Hathaway on Oscar night. And I never got second wear out of anything because I was constantly being covered in something; if I went out in the afternoon, it was always with some sort of unnoticed milky decoration on my top half.
I was not alone – my antenatal pals were similarly perplexed at how much housework having a new 7lb human in the house seemed to create. And all of us, having broken from fairly lengthy careers in which we all felt comfortable and in control, were at a bit of a loss at how to keep on top of it.
I know there must be parents out there who were, are, or will be better at it than I was and I applaud them. We don't live in squalor or anything (honest), I think I have improved a bit with practice as it goes. But if you're going through what I went through (standing and looking at your house, a bit confused), take heart: you have years ahead of you to practice housewifery and get really good at it but time with your newborn, you never get it back.
If you'd rather gaze at your baby or go out for a walk than dust the bookshelves, give Mr Sheen the one-fingered salute and do it. And when I spy you in the park, with a smudge of something a bit vomit-y on your top, I'll give you a reassuring smile that says: 'I understand (and I think I know what the inside of your house looks like) and it so doesn't matter.'
Does this ring bells for you?
Did you find keeping on top of full time domesticity much more of a struggle than having a newborn?