Somebody (who is expecting her first bambino) asked me during the week to describe Motherhood to her. She didn’t like the ‘will I or won’t I?” look I gave her while contemplating the gentlest of answers.
I wish she had asked me to describe birth instead. That I can do. I’m very open and honest. I don’t believe in pussyfooting around the facts. I don’t think I will necessarily help a woman by hiding the truth from her. I think if we know exactly what is ahead of us we can conquer anything. So I’m straight up. If it happened I say it. I pushed three kids out a teeny entrance and did it once without pain relief. I could shout about that from the rooftops. But that’s the easy part!
Motherhood? Sheesh….are there actually any words to describe this gig? I hummed and hawed and mumbled a few things while I gathered my thoughts and decided how to possibly say, in the nicest of ways, that her whole world was about to tip on its axis and she would never so much as visit the the toilet alone again.Once that baby is placed in her arms her thoughts would never again be solely her own. From that moment she would think once for herself and then for her child. Sleep would be minimal, the workload increases, she will forget to eat and survive on Lucozade or coffee or some substance that will see her through to the next nap.
The house that she has scrubbed to within an inch of its life will soon be upside down and inside out with bottles and lids and soothers and muslin squares and nappies and greeting cards and hampers wrapped in selophane with big satin bows.
The visitors will come and they wont stop coming. Even when she wants to breastfeed in peace, or shower or just take a nap. They will keep coming. And you will probably want a good cry after each one. All normal! They will all have a new piece of information or advise you of a different way of doing things – their way of doing things – and you will be ready to explode with information overload – again, totally the norm. How do I tell her not to take it all in and to just trust her instincts and do what works for her?
The visitors will inevitably stop after two weeks, just in time to coincide with her husband’s return to work. This will be the time she actually wants people to call because she has been holed up inside for longer than ever before, and she could do with somebody to sit with the baby just long enough to allow her to wash. She will be petrified to put this tiny human in the car and actually leave the property because becoming a mother sensitises you and you are all of a sudden very aware of exactly how frigging dangerous EVERY SINGLE THING is! Particularly the road!
There will be more swings and chairs and cots and contraptions in her house than she has any idea what to do with. And none of it will matter. All that will matter is how many ounces the baby took, did it stay down, did the wind come up and whose turn it is to do it next.
Her relationship with her husband is about to change for ever. It will be strengthened in some places and weakened in others.
And this is so totally normal. This is the hardest test you will ever face as a team. And the most important one. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do not compare yourselves to anybody else. Do not compare your spouse to anybody elses. This is your home team. There are only you and him that are going to do this. Other people will come. But they will also go. This is not their gig. In the dead of the night when it feels like the whole world is getting sleep except you two, just be grateful that at the very least you are tired together. You can make it through this.
Your body will change forever. You will leak in places you never thought you could leak. You will feel squishy and soft and tender and a little bit broken for a while. I never expected after having my first that my heart would feel full but my body would feel so empty. I remember taking my first shower at home and standing in front of the mirror and being horrified at how different I looked and touching squishy parts that only last week were big and round and literally full of life and able to nudge me back. I will never forget feeling so lonely.
But all this, these unbelievably challenging things that will change who she is forever, only last a very short time. Before she actually knows it, it will all be normal, it will all be second nature to her. Poop will no longer bother her, make up will only be for special occasions, she will know what her baby wants before they know it themselves, sleep will be for the weak, and nothing will phase her. NOW YOU ARE A MOM!!!
But I’m pretty sure every other person she has spoken to will have told her all of these things already. What I’m unsure anyone will have explained to her (because certainly nobody explained it to me!) Is THE UNPREDICTABILITY FACTOR…
The unpredictability factor begins at the hospital, before the baby is even born.
You will read every book known to man about the ins and outs of labour. You will have rehearsed your breathing and your panting and how to push into your bum on queue. You will have gadgets to time contractions and a birth plan learned off and BOOM! the midwife blindsides you with a theatre gown and a pair of scrubs for your husband because you are all of a sudden en route for a C – section. Or she grabs your hand tight, gets down to your level and looks you square in the eye while turning up the gas your sucking on and tells you you’re going it alone, the anaesthesist won’t make it here on time and this baby is in a hurry. And it will continue like this. One surprise after another.
What you thought you knew wont matter because there are so many other things you have to learn that never even crossed your mind.
I had no flipping idea you could roll a baby’s vest DOWN over its shoulders to avoid dragging poop all up over the child’s head until I spotted this after my THIRD child….
Mind = blown.
Too many man hours were spent holding infants over the bathtub hosing poop off their shoulders before I realised this. Thats Motherhood!
You will never be on time for anything again.
This little human will wait until you are about to walk out the door and will choose that moment to have a huge poop which will, of course, go the whole way up to its head and require a full change of clothes. In fact time itself, as a whole will change. You will now begin to judge the passing of time in feeds rather than hours. Can I get the shopping done before the next feed? Could I make it to the shower and back before the next feed? Welcome to Motherhood!
The scariest nights you will ever put in are those first few nights at home, when you are afraid to switch the lights out and go to sleep when your baby is asleep because it is your job to keep this kid alive and what might happen if you fall asleep? You will get over this and eventually begin to sleep when your baby sleeps. You will be just over the fear of it all when BOOM! your baby will vomit for the first time and run a temperature and you plummet back to square one never having imagined you could ever be so worried about somebody else. This is motherhood.
Your baby will decide to learn how to roll over on the very first time you leave them on your bed and turn around to get something. They will end up on the floor or bumping their head on a locker and you will feel guilty forever. This is Motherhood.
You will think your child isn’t listening to what is being said at home. Until your standing in church and they wait until the priest is about to break the body of christ and decide right at that moment to repeat the word they heard you say last nite and yell “SHITE” at the top of their voice. This is Motherhood!
They will wonder about things OUT LOUD….. A LOT like “why that boy has a chocolate face” or “why that lady has huge boobies” or even “why that boy has two daddies”. This is Motherhood.
You will take them to story time at the local library and will be mingling with all the other mummies while the kids take turns singing nursery rhymes. One child will sing Old McDonald, the other will sing Twinkle Twinkle and your child will stand up and give a lovely rendition of Daft Punk “i’m up all night to get some, i’m up all night to get lucky”. This is motherhood!
You will be at a funeral shaking hands with the relatives, standing right beside the coffin when the minion toy that you forgot you had in your handbag goes off shouting “BANANA” “KEVIN” ” BANANA”. This is Motherhood.
You will be just about to walk out the door and they will find a dead bird in the yard, initiating the death talk and requiring a full blown funeral, cardboard box and rubber gloves and everything, all before you have even had your cornflakes. This is Motherhood!
You will want to be their mummy, be your husband’s wife and still be you all at the same time. You will feel guilty any time you want to leave them but you will long for alone time all the same. This is Motherhood!
Every day you will learn something new about this little creature and realise that nobody could ever prepare you for any of it. Try to enjoy it. Expect nothing. BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING. And God Speed. 😉