To describe the weeks after having a baby as a crash course in parenting is a massive understatement.
Keeping a small human alive using just your boobs or a tub of mysterious white powder, becoming an master at fastening a million poppers in the dark at 3am, expertly catching projectile puke in a square of cloth, sleeping for two hours at a time… it’s all a bit, well, weird.
And at the same time you’re becoming a baby wrangler extraordinaire, there are some pretty strange things going on in your life…
Your home will look like an explosion in a gift shop. Never in your life will you receive so many bouquets of flowers. A landslide of cards will spew through the front door on a daily basis and the aroma of lilies will pervade everything.You will run out of windowsills and vases, marvel at people’s thoughtfulness and reassess your own card-sending practices.
You will fall in love with your massive pants
Big, big knickers. Right up to your tummy button. You’ll buy them to host the world’s most gigantic sanitary pads (a post birth requirement) and accommodate any C-section or lady garden stitches. You’ll keep them because, oooh, big pants. So comfy. What’s more, you’ll have a ‘best’ pair of PJs. You know, for visitors.
Your boobs will be smokin’…
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll probably have a pair of nursing pads with waterproof backing shoved down your giant, matronly feeding bra. Add a double-layered nursing top, hormones and milk factory boobs, and don’t be surprised if the girls start steaming. Close the curtains and let it all hang out.
… your boobs will also be squirting
If you have a plentiful milk supply, don’t be surprised if you get out of the shower and squirt your own reflection in the mirror. Just a heads up.
You’ll experience a healthcare home invasion
A midwife visits the day after you get back from hospital… and they just keep coming. After 10 days, they turn into health visitors. Weighing the baby, pricking her heel, testing her hearing, asking questions about your stitches, tits and mental state and saying nice things about your cushions. Then they sign you off and, pouf! They’re gone. Where did they come from? Where did they go? Who knows.
Night sweats will happen
In the race to escape your body, the extra water you retained during pregnancy will get out any way it can. Expect to pee like a racehorse and sweat like a mofo, especially at night. Waking up drenched in sweat and breastmilk – such a magical time!
New motherhood may give you The Fear
The combo of tiredness and hormones can do funny things to your brain. It’s not uncommon to feel a sense of dread sometimes. Sticking something funny on the TV helps, as does getting out for a walk, talking to friends and family and, of course, sleep, if you can get some. Speak to your health visitor if you can’t shake it off.
Healthy diets collapse in a cheesecake frenzy
Sugar. Sugar sugar fat sugar. SUGAR! If you’re breastfeeding and/or tired, a three-cake day can become standard.
Fibre will become your friend
Even if you didn’t get hemorrhoids during pregnancy, Mother Nature’s little gift to those who have a vaginal delivery is often what is known as a ‘pushing pile’. Thanks for that! Soon, your medicine cabinet will start to resemble your granddad’s, with tubes of special botty cream and sachets of Fybogel drink to help with ‘regularity’. But it won’t be long before the bugger has retreated and you know what? Orange Fybogel tastes a bit like a Calippo.
You’ll go calling for your mates
NCT courses may offer great advice but everyone knows you’re really shelling out for a job lot of new mum mates. Once the babies arrive, days of schlepping an hour and a half across town to catch up with the gang are on hold. Life gets uber-local, your neighborhood becomes more than just the place you walk though on the way to the station and you have more friends to knock for than you did when you were 12. Brilliant.
You’ll finally find out how your body fared…
Swollen with water retention and stuffed full of baby, it was hard to tell how you were going to look after birth. The days and weeks after delivery feature a lot of standing sideways in front of a mirror, monitoring the deflating bump and wondering how long it’s OK to wear maternity jeans for (you had a baby, you get to wear them forever).
… and experience slow return to dignity
Labor saw you sprawled over a bed with your bum hanging out, puffing on laughing gas in a room full of strangers. Days after, you’ll get your boobs out for any passing midwife, doctor, or mildly interested stranger. After six weeks though, you realize you’d no longer happily walk to the chemist topless for a tube of nipple cream if it meant you got there faster, and start to feel coy about showing medical professionals your ‘area’.
Charity will begin at home
Before you had a baby, you could fend off a chugger without a second thought. But now, alone with your hormones, a tiny, defenseless new life, daytime TV and a debit card, don’t be surprised if you find yourself tearfully pledging pounds of your dwindling maternity pay whenever a weepy charity ad comes on the telly.
You wonder what it would be like to be married to Martin from Homes under the Hammer
… Just me then?