Landing on another planet

Imagine walking through a door and immediately finding yourself on another planet. With an alien species, different customs, a whole new language. This is exactly how I felt about becoming a mother.

1. Naive newbie

The experience didn’t occur after I gave birth; or a few weeks after: whilst feeding bleary eyed in front of Homes Under the Hammer; or even at my first mum and baby group (an alien experience for any first timer). It began whilst waiting for my first antenatal appointment at our local children’s centre.

As I sat there in my tidy office clothes and heeled shoes, with my coat pulled neatly around me, I was suddenly overcome with a huge surge of emotion. This is happening. You are going to have a child. Sat on a waiting room chair, I studied the photos on the walls: documenting toddlers painting and babies lying on their tummies, next to laughing mums. I couldn’t identify with them yet. A kind worker at the centre passed by and introduced herself; she sat next to me and asked how I was and I was shocked by the wobble in my voice: “err a bit emotional actually, probably the hormones, hahaha!” The fact is, the reality had hit me that I was entering this new world without any experience or anyone else doing it with me. I was starting a new job in a strange culture: parenting.

2. Smug & silly 

Rather than explore these feelings, I decided to ignore them and focus on the things that made me feel excited.  I followed the babycentre updates and suggestions: “get a stylish new haircut”, “embrace the nesting instinct” “plan a baby moon”…I could relate to all of these! Soon I was ticking through these wonderful boxes on my journey through pregnancy: trips to the hairdresser, online shopping for sweet nursery bits and booking a romantic weekend in Cornwall. I even dressed as chic as maternity clothes allowed me to. “Pregnancy suits you!” people said; and as I rubbed my belly and imagined pushing my newborn around in yummy mummy atire, I felt happy and excited. I couldn’t wait for the birth when after a few intense period pains my baby would be presented to me in Cath Kidson pyjamas, perhaps on a fluffy white cloud…and I would be surrounded by adoring woodland baby animals and blue birds fluttering above, like in Disney’s Snow White. Then days would follow of cuddles, sling wearing and picnics in the sun…

OH DEAR.

unnamed-14

Babycentre suggestion “mix up a fun, non-alcoholic cocktail!”

watermark-1

Us on “babymoon”

3. When in doubt, refer to ’90s Japanese toys…

I have always had quite a vivid imagination and on this occasion I don’t think it served me very well.

When the baby appeared after what seemed like half my life gone, my partner declared that we had a boy: this was very confusing, because she was in fact female. He must have been as delirious as I. Then I realised she didn’t even look like us, she just looked like an alien. Not surprising if you have been stuck down a narrow tunnel for hours and pulled out through a key hole: yet straight away we were being hit by the unexpected…

“…the babycentre update for Day 1 doesn’t say this! It just says something about black poo”.

Of course time went on and after a few hours of being out of the womb, the familiar features of this sweet little soul did become apparent.

After my partner had left the hospital, I fell asleep for hours…and so did the baby, miraculously. When I awoke I panicked – I shouldn’t have slept that long! Straight away this situation reminded me of when my brother had bought a Tamogotchi as a child and I had looked after it overnight: by the morning it was covered in poo and skull symbols from my neglect. As I peered into the crib, I was relieved to see baby was still alive and not covered in poo. Then it struck me: just like a Tamagotchi, it would need a feed. The feeding button was located on me. Cautiously I picked my baby out of the cot, lifted up my top and kind of put her head near my boobs. I didn’t really want to do this, it felt weird. I was holding an unfamiliar and unpredictable creature to my bare breasts waiting for it to start drinking from them. A clamping feeling followed and after I had stopped cringing at the weird sensation, I watched with wide eyed amazement as the baby fed from me.

4. Beware the Breastfeeding Mafia

Over the next few days and weeks, I experienced more oddities on this planet. The baby didn’t sleep after that first night, in fact I don’t know how she found the energy to cry so loudly because she slept so little.

I was envious of people who went to bed or did any normal everyday activity: making a cup of tea, showering, chatting on the phone, going to work, watching TV. My vivid imagination had been sacked: I couldn’t imagine doing these daily things ever again.

Breastfeeding was excruciating. Health visitors seem younger than the legal age and sat on the floor looking up at me, instead of on the sofa or a chair like human beings do. They suggested breastfeeding groups with unappealing names such as “Latch on” and “Bosom Buddies”, but always seemed to turn up at my house on the days these groups ran. One day I clicked on websites to research formula. Big Brother was watching me, monitoring the newest inhabitant of the parenting planet. A pop up box appeared on my screen saying that “breast is best” and implying that if I proceed any further with my research then I would be committing a crime. I snapped the lap top shut, nervously glancing out the window at whoever was looking in on me.

unnamed-11

Blurred night time photo of newborn parenting

NO ONE TOLD ME IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS.

Antenatal classes talked about the sweet shop of options of painkillers we could choose in labour. They taught us how to attach a dolly to a knitted woollen boob. They said to make the most of visitors. But… I wasn’t given my chosen pain relief; the baby wasn’t a dolly and my boob wasn’t knitted, it was packed with flesh and nerves endings and attached to me. Every time visitors turned up, baby would be asleep and I wanted to be too. Mum and baby groups were attended: I chose a baby massage class. It wasn’t relaxing for either of us, although I did make a lovely mummy friend that day.

unnamed-10

Changing a nappy on a teddybear

THINGS GOT BETTER.

 5. And this time it will be different

Not because any of the above will not happen, but because I will not have the crazy expectations that I did, having absorbed every bit of media and information given to me and taken it as the gospel; all I need to know. I am now a native of this planet. I know the secret to survival. To quote Sylvia Plath: “if you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed”. This includes yourself and your baby and everything that happens from that first antenatal visit.

6. Becoming a real parent

I have a pair of Cath Kidson style pyjamas ready for new baby*, but I have recently swapped them in the hospital bag for the little white outfit worn by my first; complete with milk stain around the neckline. It is more realistic and means so much more to me.

Mummy Rules x

*I am 36 weeks pregnant with baby number 2 at the time of writing.

Further Notes:

  • I still love the babycentre website; it is genuinely useful. The pregnancy app just makes me laugh a lot more than it used to. 
  • Breast or bottle, who cares, whichever one works for you and your baby’s happiness. 
  • Whatever planet you are on, your body is yours.
  • It’s your baby. Scary thought I know!



Linky-Logo-Colour

image7-e1445631230907

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Landing on another planet

  1. This is excellent. Actually, I’m so relieved I had my baby before a) apps and b) the Internet and widespread social media. We read some books and then winged it. (She’s now 12!) I think it’s much harder now as whatever you do, there’s someone telling you you’re doing it wrong and pressing the Big Button of Mummy Guilt!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I do fall in love with your blog even more, every time I read a different post… I could’ve written this myself!! I felt exactly the same as you at all my antenatal appointments. In fact, I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be looking at pictures of newborns on the walls, and the thank you letters to staff that adorned every other spare space. I kept my head down, and beat myself up over the incredibly shameful thought that actually, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be doing this at all (the pregnancy was a surprise.) I knew I wanted children, and I knew I would propbably end up being a SAHM, I just didn’t want them yet. I couldn’t get comfortable with it for the whole pregnancy. My husband and his ridiculous app that he was obsessed with, annoyed me. Every time he suggested we went and bought more crap the apps list of ‘essentials,’ I found an excuse not to. I hoped that everything would change once I had the baby. It did eventually of course, but when they handed him to me, my first thought was ‘who are you, you weird alien person??’ and then I couldn’t bond with him. Through the intense anxiety I felt, I threw myself into every baby group I could find-and that was actually what helped me. My confidence in being able to make friends grew, and my baby seemed the most happy and settled when we were at groups!! This helped me get to know him, and in getting to know him, and make friends, I began to enjoy him, bond with him, and get the experience of motherhood I always wanted. You are so right-it’s a frightening, alien world. And with all the support in the world, you are essentially doing it ‘alone.’ But we are finally in a place where it is less frightening, and feels more like earth, than mars!!
    Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Woah, thank you for your generous comment! 😉 really great to hear you enjoy my posts because the feeling is mutual. This was my first and most cathartic post to date; it put to bed the remaining issues from my first experience and helped me see the funny side – which I wasn’t expecting as I began to type it. So it will always be a post close to my heart. Thanks for reading. Xx #bigpinklink

      Like

  3. This post is absolute genius. It took me back to some real shaky moments – and some naive ones! I remember ticking off those babycentre app suggestions too ha ha…why isn’t there one that says ‘Stay in Bed all day, for a whole week, while you can’?!!
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thankfully baby no 2 has been easier so far – perhaps because I have adapted as a parenting species on this planet now, or because my birth wasn’t quite as out-of-this-world as the last one! It is so difficult giving birth, being a new parent, looking after a newborn…I don’t think any amount of research or nesting can prepare you for it. Thank you so much for reading x

      Like

  4. This is amazing. So true about all the HVs all turning up and telling you to go to groups… that are all actually running while they are sat on the floor telling you to go to them! I nodded along to every part of this. Just brilliant! x

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s