What are those early days really like for a first time mum? I’d read the books and spoken to friends but over the last few weeks I’ve been experiencing the reality of motherhood for myself. If you’re pregnant, a new mum or just remembering what it was like in those early days, you might relate to these daily emotional contradictions…
1. The first time the baby cries in public, you will care that everyone is looking at you. You’ll feel judged, especially if Baby continues after what you feel is an acceptable amount of time to cry. You will smile sheepishly if anyone makes eye contact with you. You might even apologise for the bird like noise that spills out of your offspring – BUT – once you survive the first time, you couldn’t care less who is looking – your inner voice will respond to judgemental looks with “it’s a baby, deal with it”.
2. You attract comments and conversations from randomers who are happy to coo and compliment the Baby. You soak it up because you’re so proud – BUT – sometimes you’re in a hurry and other times you run out of things to say so you keep moving (slowly) pushing the pram in the opposite direction despite a well-meaning head hovering and breathing all over your babba.
3. You nod and smile at other pram pushers as you pass them, in the same way that dog walkers nod and comment on the weather when they pass each other. You feel happy to be accepted into The Club – BUT – you’re not sure why people are so happy for you coz you’re wearing vomit splattered leggings so the congratulations don’t always seem appropriate somehow. Sucker. You fell for the pampers adverts where the baby doesn’t cry and there isn’t a sniff of what’s really inside a nappy.
4. Leaving the house is a military operation. You will forget something or more things. Your other half (though he will help) will expect you to know it all automatically. You want to appear organised “Don’t worry. I’ve got this. I’m her mum” – BUT – you wonder why you can’t share the mental list of things you all need. You want to be told that it’s fine that you forgot the bottle or the day that you should’ve registered the baby. You’ll have cross words. You’ll both be pissed off. You’ll make up quicker than usual because you’re still in the Baby Bubble.
5. You will want to spend an hour or two away from Baby to remember who you are – BUT – you won’t want to leave them either. You’ll develop a case of Mum Guilt. When you do finally leave Baby, you will text the babysitter 10 minutes later to check they’re ok and ask for a picture as proof of their wellbeing. Babysitter/likely to grandparents or family member, won’t be offended by your neurotic behaviour but you’ll apologise anyway.
6. You will take lots of photos on your phone. Usually, an average 15 before you’re sort of happy with just one of them. You’ll WhatsApp it or Facebook it with pride. You’ll believe that when the baby has wind they are truly smiling at you for being The Awesome Parent. People insist on telling you “it’s just wind” but you believe it’s genuine regardless and they can just do one.
7. You’ll feel housebound in the first week or two due to midwife and health visitor calls. You want to be left alone to parent in your own way and to avoid judgement or interference – BUT – you want some advice too. Perhaps a reassuring comment that makes you feel like Mum of the Year. Congratulations; you didn’t hold her upside down today.
8. You’ll talk to the baby in a high pitched voice and will develop your own language “Who’s a little clever girly?”. You’ll ask rhetorical questions using your stern voice (in my case, my teacher voice) “What do you want? Why are you crying?” You’ll comment on Baby’s behaviour “I knew you didn’t want that extra ounce”. The baby will look at you “who, me?” – BUT – they usually respond with a (windy) innocent smile and your impatience evaporates.
10. You will not finish a full, hot cup of tea or a meal – BUT – you will finish your first glass or bottle of wine/gin and tonic/whatever you drink. And the one after that…
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