- From the moment his sperm meets your egg you will become public property. At best this means relentless advice from everyone and anyone, at worst strangers will actually touch you, rubbing your belly as if a genie might emerge to grant them one wish, sadly not yours which would be for them to bugger off.
- We're all expected to love pregnancy but it can really suck. Some women breeze through it and more power to them. For others, not so much. Imagine having the worst hangover of your life, and jetlag, whilst travelling on a boat...for three whole months. By the third trimester your unborn child has gone all feng shui, rearranging your internal organs so your bladder is permanently full and your lungs are the size of a matchbox, making breathing a chore. It's okay not to love being unable to breathe.
- It is also okay not to leave your couch, let alone your house, in the weeks after birth. Merely ensuring both mother and child are fed and watered requires military precision. Going out is a task of epic proportions for which one would need one's own Fellowship of the Ring.
- You may, occasionally, feel you've made a terrible mistake. This is perfectly normal. No matter how loved and wanted your little one is, there will be fleeting moments when you feel motherhood may not have been your best idea. This doesn't make you a bad parent, just a human being subjected to a level of sleep deprivation that, under any other circumstances, would prompt an Amnesty International campaign.
- Not one of the multitude of 'must-buy' guides for mums-to-be references the secret weapon in the arsenal required for new baby maintenance. Not a room thermometer or scratch mittens. It's stain remover, the last line of defence in the bitter battle with bodily functions. For six months my bathroom resembled a Damien Hirst artwork, Pyrex dishes of varying sizes displaying clothing at varying stages of salvage.
- Breastfeeding isn't always a walk in the park. It can be more like attempting to push water uphill with a fork, requiring a ridiculous level of commitment, energy and persistence that will have you wishing you were merely tackling Everest or attempting to negotiate world peace.
- Beware the Sleep Wars. 'Tired-offs' with your other half will be a daily occurrence, arguments over who is most exhausted must be supported by hard evidence of who has had the least sleep, down to the very last second.
- When time is at a premium, the first thing to go will be personal maintenance. You may have prided yourself on your beauty regime, pre-birth, but be prepared for legs, underarms and a bikini line that it will take a lawnmower to tackle. Dry shampoo is your friend. Who needs to shower every day anyway?
- And finally...never erect a mobile as a 'surprise'. I'm still haunted by the terrified cries of a 12-week-old, just hours after he was peacefully placed in his cot. In fairness if Vin Diesel opened his eyes to find a 12 foot orange monkey and a 10'6 toucan dangling just inches from his face he would, undoubtedly, scream too. If junior has a phobia of jungle critters I will only have myself to blame.
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