My pre-child notions of pregnancy and motherhood were almost laughable in their naivety.
Now as a mother of two, I can appreciate how utterly under-prepared I was as I began this crazy journey. I certainly don't claim to have all the answers (not even close) but I'd like to offer a helping hand, for what it is worth, to anyone else waddling uncomfortably down the path to motherhood.
Here are the things I wish I had known before having a baby:
o Babies don't stay babies very long. After years of dreaming, nine months of pregnancy and then untold weeks in the 'baby bubble' I suddenly realised my baby wasn't really a baby anymore! They grow so fast. With my youngest daughter it seemed to happen even quicker. All of a sudden they're out of your arms and you're having a two-way conversation. We worry over the 'baby' stages, growth charts and feeding choices, we buy the 'baby' equipment, fretting over front or rear facing pushchairs and which is the best sling. The truth is it all matters far less than you think. My babies are now eight and three - and I have literally no idea how this happened.
o Pregnancy is so undignified. People are going to expect to get in your pants without even saying please (much less buying you a drink). Your husband may wonder why he went to so much effort when he realises there is now an open door policy! There are those who sail through but it's more likely you will suffer the indignities. God have mercy if you get piles, someone, as in the Dr, will insist on having a look. And then, you give birth...
o Not as many people care how you feed/dress/birth your baby as you think. If we were to believe the media we'd be forgiven for thinking there was some kind of maternity police out there issuing fines for mummy misdemeanors. The truth is, Mums in the trenches of motherhood are generally in it together. Yes, there are the 'mean girls' but I tend to think that's just how they are about everything so try not to take it personally. Raising children is difficult; for every victory you have in one area, you'll no doubt feel a total failure in another.
o Motherhood can be a lonely shindig. Maybe you'll be one of those Yummy Mummies with loads of post baby confidence, time and energy to head out and make friends with your entire NCT group...but maybe you won't. Mutual Motherhood doesn't guarantee you an instant friendship base. When my daughters were very young, my husband would come home and ask if I had done anything exciting, did I have any news/gossip? I'd look at him like he had grown two heads! Didn't he realise he was the only other adult I had spoken to all day (nearly all week)? The most exciting thing to have happened was discovering I could find 'Bubble Guppies' OD for my fussy three-year old (which, though slightly tragic, made me feel like Super Mum at the time).
o Babies fart. Loudly. This may seem obvious to some but as I had spent next to no time with babies before I had my own, it blew my mind. Left alone in my curtained cubicle mere hours after my eldest daughter was born by C-Section, I was staring at her in wonder (as you do frequently) when all of a sudden she did the loudest fart I'd ever heard. I resisted the urge to call out to the full ward that 'It Wasn't Me!' She woke herself up, started crying - I couldn't move to comfort her as I was still attached to the bed by a catheter in my nether regions. I had to press the emergency call button... all over on unbelievably loud trump!
o You'll live in a constant state of worry. I once read that, on becoming a parent, it's like wearing your heart on the outside of your body, I really think that sums it up. It begins with pregnancy, the worry over eating and doing all the right things. Then they are born and you take one look into their innocent eyes and you realise (with a certainty bordering on insanity) that it's your job to keep them safe forever. There begins years of worrying about the temperature of the nursery, choking hazards, sickness and then the mean kids at school. Where does it all end? I'm not really sure...
o You will love them uncontrollably, and even on the worst days it will still be the best thing you ever did. I know, crazy right. Who would believe it?