People just CAN’T help themselves. The second you announce your pregnancy everyone has an opinion and boy, do you know about it. Initial comments generally highlight someone else’s sixth sense, keen skills of observation and all round badass intelligence:
‘I knew it! That night when we went to dinner and you drove home – it was soooo obvious. You never drive! You are normally far too wasted!’
‘I thought you were looking a little bit fuller figured’.
‘You really are glowing – I suspected as much’.
‘It’s going to be a girl. I know it. I can just feel it’.
And so on.
But those who are parents already are so much worse. There is this collective need to tell you how awful and difficult it is, when prior to pregnancy there was a conspiracy of silence regarding the terrors of parenthood. Yet, once you are officially on the way to joining this most unexclusive of clubs, the floodgates well and truly open and everyone is hell bent on telling you about their experience and general parental pitfalls. Mostly it is irritating comments like:
‘Enjoy those lie in’s while you can!’
‘A babymoon – great idea because your holidays are never going to be the same again’.
‘You’ll never have any time to yourself – you’ll even struggle to go to the toilet, let alone have a shower’.
When I was pregnant I just kept thinking – I bloody know. I didn’t have a baby in the misguided thought that my life would stay the same. I wanted and expected it to change. Why else would I have been peeing on sticks for years? Also, everyone is different, everyone’s baby is different and thus everyone’s experience, though with similarities of course as we are all birthing babies not pigs, is different. Therefore I wanted to shout to everyone, please don’t tell me about your experience, unless I ask for it, as I am just trying to get on and create my own.
But, in hindsight I suppose that those already battle scarred from childbirth and the early years were just trying to help. There might have been an inevitable side serving of smugness and mild self-satisfaction from those who have been through it and survived to those ‘greenies’ who are about to embark on one of life’s biggest challenges but I guess that is to be expected. Because, first time parents really don’t know what they have let themselves in for and it’s far too late in the game to advise anyone to keep their legs shut.
The kindest thing is probably quite sensibly, not to try and pop that wonderful blissed out baby bubble of the newly expectant but just to try and get a modicum of reality through. Yes, it is an exciting, wonderful, emotional time but I remember sitting/lying in bed with my c-section scar covered in post-surgery dressing, pressure socks on and nipples leaking and thinking how amusing it was that this was the reality of motherhood. Not just coping with a new baby and lack of sleep but the reality of my post-pregnancy body, baby blues, wind (the baby’s), nappies etc.
Now my battle scar has faded, as have my stretchmarks and although it’s my turn to be smug now as I am on the seasoned warrior side of the fence, I try very hard not to be. I don’t always succeed of course but I do try and give advice only when asked and still try and see the funny side of motherhood. And having experienced having a baby I can also happily reassure myself when I see pictures of post-pregnancy models announcing the ‘bounce back’ of their bodies, that they too are only human (I think) and thus also subject to the whims of Mother Nature. Under that sexy black one piece they too are wearing sanitary towels and are likely to be suffering from chaffed and leaking nipples. Motherhood may not be glamorous or easy and on the hardest days quite frankly, not to be recommended, but expect the worst and you will hopefully get the best and one thing it most certainly is, is an adventure.