Yesterday the doorbell rang. My kids answer it before I can. I can hear a woman's voice asking "Is Mummy home?". From the tone of her voice I can tell she thinks she's stumbled upon some kind of home alone situation. I come down the stairs, clutching my 6 week old baby precariously under one arm, nappy hanging half fastened. There are two ladies at the door who look slightly odd, and I'm relieved its no-one normal. Lady number one, has a badly cut bob and thick spectacles. She looks about 30 but sounds 12. She's practically inside my house. "Have you just had that baby?" she asks, goggle-eyed. 'Yes', I mutter'. "Are you just feeding her? How old is she? Are these all your children?" she asks excitedly. I can see her mouth moving, but I can't hear her. Luckily my children are more than happy to answer on my behalf.
Lady number two is older and wearing a ginger fox fur coat with a daffodil in the button hole and clutching a bunch of religious leaflets. "Are you alright?" she asks. "What?" I reply, even though I think I heard her. "Do you need some help?" she says. "Why yes. Yes I do!", I want to say. "What made you think that? Could it be the small herd of unwashed children you see in front of you, clamouring for attention like neglected puppies? Or is it something about the way I'm staring at you like I've seen a ghost, after being trapped inside this house with this colicky baby for some time now, that gives me away? Put those leaftets down, I'm ready to be saved! Hold this baby too. Quickly, before I drop it!".
But I don't say that. "Thanks. Thanks for asking. I'm fine" I reply, as I try to shut the door on lady number one, who is still asking questions. " Whats her naaaaaaamee???"....I manage to slam the door shut with one foot. I notice I'm feeling peculiarly grateful for the offer of help, and seriously wondering if I should have let them in. I think that must mean I'm losing it, and tell myself I need to get a grip.
Having a newborn is hard. It makes you crazy. They leave your body, and take your mind on the way out. Small they may be, but don't mistake the power of a newborn baby. With a Jedi-like skill, they can pull you in to their stare, like an X-wing to the Death Star, with a gravitational force you cannot ignore. "You will not resist me Mummy. The bond is strong in us. You will do exactly as I command." Their steely blue eyes challenge you to even try putting them down, "You don't want me to do this, do you Mummy? Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh', "No I don't, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I ever even thought about putting you down. How stupid. How selfish of me. Please, just stop that noise, I won't do it again."
Oh, and if you do manage to leave, because it's o.k to take a break isn't it, just a small one? Prepare to walk around town feeling like a complete weirdo, hoping not to bump in to anyone you know. Because a) you're not with your baby, and that makes you feel guilty..guilt...guilt,,guilty...guilt and b) you look like shit, and you didn't realize quite how shit you looked until you were in town surrounded by normal people. You will feel even worse if you decide to try something on in Zara, and see your post baby body in fluorescent changing room lighting. You text your husband to please come and get you, because by now you're pathetic. You get in the car, he looks at you and says "Are you o.k? You look pretty rough". "You're supposed to tell me I'm still attractive" you say, not really caring anyway.
I need a club to go to. Some sort of group I can join. No, not a playgroup, or school, or baby yoga. Nothing bullshit where we all look half decent and make an effort to sound cheerful. "Yeah, she's great, I'm great, just one more thing to do really, hah hah hah".
No. Member requirement for this club would be total honesty: "Yes, good morning. Why are you applying to join ' What the F*ck Have I Done - Mummies of Newborns'?.......Just say it Dear, it's ok."
"O.k... but please don't tell anyone I said this". "I won't Dear". "Well..it's just that...having a newborn is hard. I feel odd, confused, happy, sad, under pressure, overwhelmed, and I think I might be mad."
"You're in Dear. And just to add, wearing pyjamas is permitted, we encourage it actually. After introductions, we like to turn the lights off and sit in the dark. Feel free to weep quietly and think about things you would like to do, but can't. Can't now. Can't tomorrow. Can't any time soon. Can't for for the next f*cking five years. Like running away to San Francisco. Then we'll do some chanting together, swear words normally. We finish with tea laced with vodka. I'm sure you'll make some lovely new friends here Dear, but please give them the benefit of the doubt, they don't get out much. We'll see you next Tuesday."
And just to note.. it doesn't matter how many children you have. Or how many newborns you've survived. Or if you're bottle or breast-feeding. Or how experienced you are. This is my 4th. It should be easy. Someone tell that to my baby.