After nine months of planning and then bringing a life into the world, you’d have thought you’d be prepared for having a baby.
Well, you’re not. Whether it’s number one or three, we all think having a newborn in our arms will be nothing but magical. In many ways, it is. But it’s not easy, either.
For me, having given birth by emergency caesarean to my daughter Beth, now 16, the joy was tempered by having to ring a buzzer in the hospital bathroom a few days later because I had been trying for 45 minutes to pull up my pants…
With wet pants from the shower floor, one wide-open door and my lady garden on show to three more midwives, a passing junior doctor and a male patient from Bed 4A, this is what it took for it to hit home that being a new mum was certainly not necessarily going to be an easy ride.
With Joshua, my second child, I waited patiently for the fluffy, happy feeling to kick in. And it did in the end. But not before an emotional meltdown which I blame on hormones and lack of sleep. And my poor husband was on the receiving end of it.
I spent three days in tears over everything; no balanced individual would cry over utensils being in the wrong spots in the kitchen drawer or the microwave being too loud at teatime. And no one warns you about boob leakage. I leaked from everywhere imaginable in front of anyone in my vicinity, embarrassing myself on many occasions. I fear the lady in my local shop will never be able to look me in the eyes again after one sorry episode.
But that aside, it is a very special time and you’re lucky to get a beautiful mini human, even if they do come with a lot of ‘stuff’. So much stuff, in fact, it can take hours just to pack for a stroll to the shops.
What you will need more than anything else for this is baby wipes. It only took a full-on poo-nami to the face from Joshua, now five, for me to understand the value of these. The good news is that decent wipes clean walls, floors and faces with ease.
What they can’t do is stop is your husband laughing hysterically at your misfortune.
But the realities of having a newborn extend so much further. A good ‘debate’ over how the baby seat fits safely into the car is always fun. You’ll find yourself wishing you had a degree in engineering, or could at least recall how the previous two car seats fitted.
And let’s talk about breast pumps. These have an ability of catching you out – from the window cleaner seeing your milking stations during Corrie, to being on the phone when the suction fails and makes a rude noise.
No one ever tells you about the joy of parenting a baby with an older sibling. For me, having baby Jacob, now 18 months, and Joshua, in the same room was fine until
I nipped to
the loo and returned to find Joshua, then four, dragging five-week-old Jacob across the living room floor by his feet.
But despite all this, you grow in confidence as a mum each day, and the memory of all the trials and tribulations you faced begin to fade. Then one day you surprise yourself by thinking how wonderful it would be to do it all over again.
Written by Jaime Oliver
Illustration by Ben Kirchner