Ah, the newborn stage.
Fluffy booties, scratch mittens and squidgy babies sleeping with their arms above their heads. Congratulation cards, helium balloons and fussing relatives.
Blind panic, sleepless nights and soreness in areas you never knew you had.
We all know about these things, the hallmarks of a new baby. We all know it’s not all actual Hallmark. But there are some things no one tells us about. Some things that are just, well, weird…
1.) Someone has just handed you one of your internal organs and helpfully informed you that it is now your sole responsibility to keep this organ alive and breathing. Yes, you. You who have just recovered from major surgery/had twenty nine stitches in a delicate part of your anatomy. Good luck with that!
2.) The Organ will spend most of its time staring at you. You will stare back, and repeat “I’m your Mummy” at them, and hope that this piece of information sinks in, to both of you. Weren’t you supposed to have some sort of maternal intuition that would make this feel like the most natural thing in the world? You suspect that The Organ already knows you are his Mummy, and is planning on asking for a refund.
3.) Being unused to addressing your liver by name, and feeling as though it might be a bit presumptuous on the part of your lungs to be spoken to as though you were having a reciprocal conversation, you will be forced to adopt a series of pet names for The Organ, such as Chick Pea or Fluffybum, just to save face.
4.) Conversations will be had with young Fluffybum, that start with the words, “Mummy is very pleased with all that poo you did this morning!” Weird on so many levels. The effluvia of another as a source of pride, the reference to oneself in the third person, as though testing out one’s strange new title, and, again, the expectation of reciprocal conversation with something that is surely an internal organ which has just been unceremoniously pulled out of your body.
5.) There is a decaying bit of flesh in Fluffybum’s midsection. It appears to be the decomposing remains of the thing that joined the two of you. At some point it will fall off, but until then it remains a decaying bit of flesh, like something from the trenches of World War One, but on a baby. Don’t forget to wash around it.
6.) Fluffybum needs to be bathed, only DON’T MAKE THE WATER TOO HOT OR TOO COLD OR IT MIGHT DIE. Also, Fluffybum has no control over any of his muscles, much like you at the moment. A terrifying proposition, at the best of times.
7.) There will be terrifying leaflets at the hospital warning you never to shake the baby, but you will never be able to make them sleep without an hour of solid rocking. You will worry if it’s the same thing.
8.) They will wake up every time you want to eat something. You will find yourself, aged thirty-four, being spoon fed by your own mother as you attempt to breastfeed a tiny creature.
9.) You might not love them straight away. You might still think they are an organ for quite a while, but gradually, you will get there. It wasn’t like this on any television programme ever, and not just because you didn’t give birth unexpectedly in a toilet, the way it always seems to happen in soaps.
10.) Your child, along with every other, will sleep with their arms above their head for approximately four months. It is a beautiful thing. One day, you will wake up, and remember you haven’t seen them do it for a while, and you will realise that the moment has passed, gone forever, and they are now sleeping like a regular human, but more intermittently and only at inconvenient times. It is at that point that you will realise, you no longer have a newborn. Enjoy it while it lasts, in all its wonderful weirdness.