What to shop for, how to sterilize bottles and what to pack for the hospital are important lessons for feeling like you’re organised and leading you to believe you’ve got the whole motherhood thing sorted even before you give birth. But there are so many things that are unwritten and unsaid before you have a baby that when the ghastly does come around, you either think you’re a freak because the book never said so, or curse at the world for not having told you (though if I had a rand for every time someone said “You’ll never sleep well again”, I’d have been able to employ a fulltime night nurse!).
So if I could tell new moms-to-be or new moms what they really need to know so they don’t feel completely freaked out and alone (compactum lists and birth videos aside), the list would look something like this:
– You might battle with your new identity. You have a new job description, and it’s okay if it’s a challenging transition. No one goes from being a regular employer to a manager with huge responsibilities without difficulty.
– You might not love motherhood at first. Bear in mind that loving your child and loving motherhood are two different things. You will probably get to love it, but it’s tough, and it’s okay not to want to shout about the joys of motherhood from the rooftops.
– Your marriage might be challenged. With the hormones, added responsibility, fear, less time together and different ways of doing things, things could be a little tougher. I remember sobbing many times if my husband came home two minutes after he said he would, and shouting every swear word I knew. In hindsight, this was irrational (read: childish), but at the time, it felt like things were falling apart.
– You might not hang up those maternity pants (or anything elasticised) after you give birth. While you might have dreams of leaving the hospital ala Brooke Shields in designer jeans, your reality is more likely to involve big-waisted pants, along with a large T-shirt to go over your sore, melon-like boobs. Many months later, and I’m still not sure how that extra flap of stomach skin that one develops during pregnancy is supposed to disappear, ever, without the help of a nip or tuck.
– You’ll probably feel kak for a long time. Between the dark undereye rings, your untouched hair roots, and the still-to-be-shed pregnancy weight, you might feel more D-list than A-list and more slummy mummy than yummy mummy.
– You’ll be afraid. Very afraid. A lifetime of responsibility? Yikes! It’s very scary.
I wish I could say I had a matching list of how to get over the post-birth woes, but I don’t. What I do know is that it helps to know some stuff is normal, and that other new moms everywhere are wearing their baggies, losing sleep and fighting with their hubbies about whose turn it is to change the poo nappy. But just like a baby’s stubborn wind, it does eventually pass. Seriously.