Only the first six weeks are tough: Motherhood is rougher than a cowboy’s hand, but it can be as much fun. Having kids is hard going. You just get better at handling it.
Instinct will get you through: Not a chance. Sure you have an innate knowledge that you shouldn’t offer it a sip of your G ’n T, or swing it around your head, but the rest does not come all that naturally. This is one time you are going to have to start reading the ‘how to’ books you thought were for dummies.
All women want to stay at home and look after their babies: Some people really do think this. Being a full-time mom has got to be the toughest job on the block. You will never work as hard as this. Going back to work is like taking a holiday compared to seven days a week of smiling and cooing.
Good mothers always put their babies first: This only happens for the first few months. Then you realise that your relationship comes first and you come somewhere too.
Having a baby will bring your relationship closer: Life will quickly prove you wrong. In fact, children are guaranteed to put your marriage under serious strain. What with fatigue, stress, zero sex and resentment you are never going to have to work harder on your relationship than when you have kids.
I can do it differently: Well you do try, but sooner or later you will drop the desire to breastfeed until they are four, give them a daily massage with sesame oil and stimulate their brains with classical music. Then it’s toast and jam like the rest of the mothers you thought were lazy slackers.
The first five days
These are the most glorious and the toughest. You and your body go though huge changes as your hormones rebalance and your milk comes in.
Day One : You are on cloud nine. Your baby is ten hours old and you have not slept a wink in over twenty-four hours. You can- not stop staring at this incredible bundle of creation. It is so beautiful it’s breathtaking. You are working hard at getting it to latch on to your nipple.
Day Two : You are in a love cocoon with the new family. All three of you have spent the last forty-eight hours in bed, just loving each other. You have had forty-five minutes’ sleep but feel like you don’t need any sleep at all.
Day Three : Still no sleep. Your milk is coming in and the skin of your breasts is stretched so taut you think it may split. The nurses say it won’t. Baby is latching, but it’s no relief. You have been crying for three hours now and your partner said he was going for a short walk an hour ago. You have left seventeen messages on his cellphone.
Day Four : You are back at home so maybe you will get some sleep. Surely the human body cannot go indefinitely without sleep. Can it? You count each hour to the midwife’s next visit. Baby must have colic. It just won’t stop crying.
Day Five : Three hours sleep. Oh bliss! But now you’ve tasted release, you want more. Baby is feeding every hour so that’s not possible. There’s a flashing dot on your bedside clock and you’ve been counting the ticks for the last hour. Each feed takes 800 ticks.
Types of moms: identify yourself
The Clingy Mom : It’s been eight months and baby has only left your sight for a few hours at a stretch. You have given up work; you have given up all interests. All you can talk about is your child. You wonder why friends are avoiding your calls.
The Overprotector : You do the Heimlich every time your darling gags and have heard of three babies that have been snatched from Exclusive Books. You wonder why other babies are crawling around like beetles on Red Bull. Your baby prefers to be Held close to you all day.
The Super Organiser : Colour-coded Tupperware, dummy clips, travel packs of baby wipes and spare food jars are your focus. You have everything on hand. You spend your weekend pre-cooking and packaging batches of food for each weekday. You have forgotten what used to consume your time before you had a baby.
The New Age Fairy : Your baby is still sleeping in your bed at eleven months and waking most of the night. You don’t believe in routine and want the baby to develop its own rhythm with life. You know she is a crystal soul. You are very tired.
The Career Gal : Back at work on week six. Your life cannot stop despite your husband’s grumblings. Your mom knows better than to say a word. It’s tough, but you need to do this for your sanity. You wonder why your child is so needy during your precious weekend time with him.
The Hip Mom : Baby is on a strict routine sleeping through the night and you are back in your size tens within three months. Everyone tells you how calm and serene you are. You are running your business from home. You are in tears by five every evening and think you may not make the year.
The Professional : Babies and birthing are the focus of your world. You know it’s boring, but you just can’t help yourself. You dispense advice on everything from weight to teething ratios. You smile knowingly when friends talk about their lives and say: “Just you wait until you have a baby.” Dinner invitations are dwindling.
There I was, a respectable thirty-something woman seen between various social functions driving my red convertible Mercedes, clad in micro-minis and high- heeled shoes, groomed, sussed, savvy and thinking of myself as, well, glamorous. And then I fell pregnant. My glad rags were replaced by drawstrings and elasticised waists. Everything was big, including me. My glamour was reduced to pumps and a handbag.
But it was the day that I packed a hospital bag that I finally bade farewell to my glamour. My passport to my new life was in the form of a maternity pad. I had never seen something so large. Was it my newborn or me who would be donning a nappy? And how was this supersized panty-liner ever going to fit into my lacy G-string?
The actual birth was a series of acupuncture needles and internal exami- nations by my midwife until I eventually ended up on the slab. There I lay, with my gown around my neck, my legs splayed while my audience of fifteen pondered over my barely intact dignity.
Fortunately, the anaesthetic numbed more than just my nerves, and I received my newborn with maternal delight.
When my vagina was through with all the action, we moved on to my breasts (more like the pendulous bosom of a porn star now). Day three saw more than the arrival of my milk supply – it saw my breasts getting more action than they had seen in the last thirty years. The midwives milked me like a bovine, kneading, squeezing, stroking and poking to get the milk supply flowing. But my breasts’ appearances did not end there. They were still to go public. It was a clumsy relationship between nipple and lips – neither fully in control of the moment. Nevertheless, several months down the line, I have joined the ranks of the veterans and watch the new girls on the block fumbling with the act. Now, with my weight doing the slowest possible disappearing act, I have re-engaged an element of glamour – just as long as you overlook the Preparation H suppositories in my clutch bag and the milky deposit on my shoulder.