Recently, a friend of mine announced that she was expecting.
It made me think, if I could go back and speak to myself in those
hideous, anxiety-ridden, nauseating thrilling days of early pregnancy, what would I say? What sage snippets of wisdom would I have to impart?
I came up with the answer today while I was walking Piglet home from what has become Mummy’s daily overpriced coffee habit (it’s like crack*, that stuff, honestly. Why else would I walk two miles in the pouring rain to sit in silence staring adoringly at an oversized paper cup for half an hour, allowing Piglet to nap way past his usual time, even though I know that means he won’t sleep until long after Cinderella has left the party. I swear that in years to come coffee will actually be banned. You heard it here first people).
The answer, my friends, was none.
Nope, I have no advice to give. None at all.
Firstly, I have had but one child. One. In scientific circles that would be considered a very small study size. I don’t think my experience is going to be published in any scientific journals on the typical realities of pregnancy, birth and child rearing any time soon.
Secondly, when you have a child, people are literally falling over themselves to offer advice. Let’s see, there was the woman in the library who stopped to help when Piglet, then aged five weeks, was screaming. This help consisted of blowing on his face, and then saying triumphantly after he had stopped screaming for approximately half a nanosecond, “look! They love it, see! Blowing on their faces always works!” Piglet then resumed screaming. We had to leave the library**
Then there was the man on the bus who put an appeal out to the entire collective of passengers to “give him nipple. Somebody give him nipple,” because Piglet, aged seven months, was crying on the bus. He was crying because he was bored, as was I, having to endure one of Wembley’s finest traffic jams, but let’s not allow that fact to get in the way of the fact that I was a terrible mother who was failing to give my child “nipple” on the bus.
Then there was the woman at the station who suggested I pull my coat around Piglet’s feet as he wasn’t wearing a snowsuit, and there was an eclipse happening. And the the man (I sense a public transport theme happening here. Here’s some advice-avoid public transport!) who said Piglet needed a haircut and implied I was one of the Daily Mail’s vilified benefit scroungers.
Yes, people will always be willing to proffer their advice, usually with a massive side order of judgement, all over everything you choose to do. They will advocate never reading a parenting book, then suggest a routine that makes Gina Ford look like a laid back hippy. They will raise their eyebrows when you put the baby in a sling, or in a pram. They will have something to say about breastfeeding, and formula feeding. They will say you should introduce solids at four months, but not until six months. They will suggest purees, but the baby will never eat normal food unless they’re given finger foods only. The spoon is the devil you know.
You simply cannot win. There’s no point in trying.
Just do what you think is best. Oh, and if anyone tell you that the room needs to be eighteen degrees celsius exactly, otherwise the baby will die, you have my permission to punch them in the face.***
*DISCLAIMER: I don’t have any personal experience of ACTUAL crack. No drugs here people. I don’t even know where my vitamins are. Hidden under the sofa along with last season’s prime blueberries and the TV remote, probably.
**OK, there is one, ONE piece of advice I have to give. All that stuff they have in some cultures about not leaving the house for a month-that is there for a reason. Just don’t leave the house for a month, if you can bear it. I thought I had to be back in the local coffee houses showing off my newborn within a week, and wearing my new American Apparel bodycon dress within three weeks. After all, I had paid good money for the blighter in the expectation that I would one day be thin again. I got into the dress, wore it out one day, and underneath my svelte post-baby body (where is are those Daily Mail photographers when you need them?) my C-section scar was bleeding from rubbing against it. You will be able to leave the house again. You will be able to drink wine and look fabulous. Just don’t rush it. Get everyone round. They can look after the baby, and bring you food. If you are breastfeeding then everyone will see your boobs, but you will just get over it,
after all far worse things happen during the birth. Just relax. Don’t do anything.
***Metaphorically speaking. Like, maybe in your head. Violence is not the answer.
Life Love and Dirty Dishes