The Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Mum
I feel like I could fill a book (and then some,) with the things I wish I knew before becoming a mum. I’m normally a person who doesn’t like surprises, and I like to be in control. I’m not entirely sure what I would’ve done differently in these situations, I just wish I knew they were coming. Here is a list of the top five things, from an infinite amount of things I didn’t know, and wish I had. Here are the things that stick with me the most.
- I wish I knew that my body was never going to look the same again.
Don’t believe what anybody tells you about the weight you gain during pregnancy. It is the stuff of magic, and welds to your body, to the point where you start to think only surgical removal will get rid of it. Don’t believe that if you eat right and exercise, you will look exactly the same as you did before you were pregnant. Even by doing these things, the weight will still grow out of nothing, like a fungus, spreading to parts of your body you never even knew could get fat. The baby weight gods responsible for this witchcraft, laugh in the face of anyone who thinks their body will look normal post baby (although they evidently make exceptions for people like Blake Lively and Victoria Beckham, I must find out what these celebrities sacrificed to the Gods to be spared the baby weight curse.)
I wish I knew that my belly button was about to resemble a cats arsehole embedded in a giant’s scrotum, and the little bit of bum dimpling I already had, would take over my entire legs, right down to my knees (no shorts for me then, and only skirts below the knee…) and that even back fat was going to join in the party, swinging along to the rhythm of my walking. I should’ve been kinder to my pre baby body, because it looked like Cara Delevingne’s compared to the one I have now. I should’ve walked around naked and got people to admire it, because I will NEVER be able to do that now. In hindsight, a ‘goodbye body’ party would’ve been excellent. I could’ve flaunted it, and given it the send off it deserved, maybe then I wouldn’t need to hold the candlelit vigil for it in my head, every time I look in a mirror when I’m shopping. I’m sorry for your poor treatment, old body.
- I wish I knew that my husband would never look at me the same again.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I noticed the immediate shift in his attitude towards me. He wrapped me up in cotton wool, seemed ridiculously excited compared to me (I was excited, just also scared, hormonal, and a million other emotions which totally got in the way of any excitement I felt) and took strict notice for the first time ever, of everything I was eating and drinking. I hated it. I immediately wanted our relationship to be the same as it was before: best friends, drinking buddies, random weekend craziness enthusiasts. But it all stopped. My husband even stopped enjoying the things I had to stop doing because of the growing lump, but he could still do if he wanted, because he didn’t enjoy doing them without me. It was starting to dawn on both of us that even when the baby was born, we still wouldn’t be able to just pick up where we left off, because practically all the stuff we did together wasn’t child friendly, and we couldn’t just leave the baby to go off and do it. I know, this should’ve been obvious before I was pregnant, but the reality just didn’t hit until I was.
The biggest shift was after the baby was born. I knew straight away that although my husband loved me billions, he saw me differently. Having watched in panic as I sceamed, pushing out two babies (one relatively small, one enormous, for the record!) and the indignity in watching seemingly everyone from the consultant to the hospital porter lubricate a finger and whack it inside me. (Ok, the porter didn’t really do this, but I lost count of how many different fingers had a go in there,) he just couldn’t look at me in the same way. I wish I could erase these images from my husband’s memory, because although we are still the best of friends, I will never be that person waiting for him to get home from work, in my underwear, who will make him drop everything to rush me upstairs (although it’s not just the way he sees me which prevents this, but also the need I feel to hide my baby ravaged body away in oversized clothes.) I wish I could have one of those spontaneous pre-baby moments with him just once more…
- I wish I knew that some of my oldest friends would totally desert me.
Ok, I know when you don’t have children, anyone who has them can sometimes start to look a bit boring, and seeing them may not be that exciting anymore. But when it’s one of your oldest and best friends?? I told my closest friends really early on that I was pregnant. For one thing, I really wanted their support to smash down the hormonal wall that was fogging my thoughts, and also because we were on a night out that had been planned for ages, and they would’ve immediately suspected something was wrong if I didn’t partake in the usual 10 bottles of prosecco/cocktail jug carnage which was usually central to our nights out. When I told them, instead of looking happy for me, they looked horrified, like I’d betrayed them. Yes, they weren’t at a stage in their lives where having children was an option, but they acted like I was a 14 year old telling them in the school toilets that I was accidentally pregnant, not like I was a married woman perfectly capable of making an informed decision on their own. One of them proceeded to launch into a series of stories she had heard recently about babies with birth defects, and still birth rates. I wanted to punch her (sod it, all of them) in the face, for their lack of normal reactions. I should’ve known then that the friendship reaper was creeping around, and that our friendship would slowly die out.
From the moment I told them, they cut me out. Of everything. I had to see the pictures plastered all over various social media, to know that they had all been together and hadn’t bothered to invite me. We bumped into some of them when I was about 6 months pregnant, and my husband, angry at their treatment of me, confronted them. ‘She’s pregnant, not broken or housebound,’ he told them. They seemed affronted and annoyed at the confrontation, and continued pushing me out.
The final death knell to any shred of friendship we may have had left, came when the baby was born. In my head I had always pictured that when my friends had children, I would rush around to their house in excitement, armed with gifts, nappies, and offers of taking the baby out in the pushchair for a walk so they could get some rest (and yes, I thought these things before I had children myself.) But although they sent cards and gifts, they never came to see the baby, not even when I let them know we were ‘ready for visitors.’ Their physical presence to reassure me while I felt I was drowning in emotion, and feeling plunged in way over my head, would’ve been far more appreciated than any gift. I reluctantly invited them to my baby’s christening, hoping that if they saw him, they might realise what they were missing out on. But it was the first and last time they saw him, and none of them have seen my second baby. Some of them didn’t even bother to reply to my message telling them the baby had arrived safely.
So, I wish I’d known my friends were going to be total dicks about me having a family. A part of me hopes that when they have children of their own, they will feel total remorse at what they’ve done, but given the evidence, this looks seriously unlikely. A part of me often feels white hot fury that for some reason, my children aren’t ‘good enough’ for their time and attention. But most of the time it just fucking hurts. BUT, I made amazing friends at antenatal class, and some awesome friends who don’t have kids, in the area we now live. I just wish I’d had time to prepare for the pain, the hurt, and maybe to realise that clearly, they never were my friends in the first place.
- I wish I knew that I would have to considerably lower the standard of what makes me happy.
Before children, some of the things which made me happy included driving home on a Friday night, with music banging, ready for an evening which may involve impromptu drinks, more drinks, dancing, and a fry up in bed the next day. Or, when me and my husband decided to go backpacking, and I was deliriously happy on the way to the Eurostar to get to our first destination. It took me months to get used to the fact that not only, for the foreseeable future, I would get NO time to myself, but that a holiday was never going to be a holiday. I wasn’t going to get to do the travelling I thought I could with a child in tow. Impromptu nights out could now end no later than 11 because it just wasn’t worth the feeling rough as a skunks bum the next day.
Now, I don’t know whether to fight it, or just accept that happiness is now… finding an awesome series on Netflix, and seeing that there are 6 whole seasons of it for binge watching pleasure. Even better, is my husband going out for the evening, so I can watch the teen stuff that is on Netflix, that I’m way too old for, (Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars, I’m all flipping over this!) without his judgement. To top this off, I can even do it while unashamedly drinking a whole bottle of wine, by myself, eating bags of sweet and salty popcorn. All whilst wearing a onesie. As my husband would look down on these things, sometimes nothing makes me happier than when he goes out and I can do them in peace. Yea, my happiness now revolves around tv series… Need to work on that! As we weren’t sure when our first baby would come along, I now wish I’d known that our last holiday on our own was our last. I wish we could’ve squeezed in one more. Or, I should’ve prepared myself for losing these things in my life by staying in for a year, subjecting myself to bouts of sleep deprivation torture, investing in one of those dolls which mimic a real baby, and feeding it, fighting it down for a nap, existing, then repeating it, feeding it, fighting it down for a nap, existing, then repeating it…
Post script: feeling the need to have a poo when BOTH the children are asleep makes me happy. Getting to do it in peace makes me want to high five myself and victory dance.
- I wish I knew my life was going to be full of buzzwords.
I was so happy to go on maternity leave, not only because I was the size of a whale, and doing my job was practically impossible (I also hated my job about as much as I hate people who drive in the middle lane, and that’s a LOT,) but mainly because in my job I was forced to use bullshit corporate buzzwords the whole time, and I couldn’t wait to leave that behind. But as soon as the baby was born, what happened? My life was filled with even more buzzword bullshit than before. Apparently parenting has the most buzzwords attached to it, and if you aren’t applying them to every aspect of your parenting, you are a failure, and judgment will be rained down upon you by other parents. And what a judgy bunch other parents can be (more on this in further posts!) It’s like having a child brings everyone’s insecurities to the surface, and heightens them beyond what people are capable of handling, and the only way they can deal with it and make themselves feel better is to judge others.
Anyway, phrases such as ‘attachment parenting,’ ‘baby led feeding,’ ‘positive discipline,’ ‘baby led weaning,’ were thrown in my face from the minute the baby was born. What? I couldn’t just love and nurture my baby in a way that felt natural and right to me? No, I was expected to do it by the parameters of these ‘terms.’ It’s not to say that loads of research hasn’t been done around these terms, but research changes its mind more often than it rains during British summertime, so what you ‘should’ be doing with your parenting can just as quickly change to what you ‘shouldn’t.’ If you choose to shun pushchairs and carry your baby everywhere, and let it sleep in your bed, fine. But to me, I couldn’t wait to get rid of my bump, and the thought of carrying the baby again but on the outside, made me whimper, and my destroyed back and hips from 9 months of heavyweight carrying also screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I just don’t need to hear about how it will help me bond, me and my little guys have bonded just fine, thank you.
Thanks for reading!!