1. Don’t forget about your other half:
I wake up.
There’s a tiny male version of me in a large Tupperware box by my bed. He has had crying episodes/where-the-hell-am-I moments most of the night and we have cuddled, snuggled and cuggled in between them. And farted. There’s been a lot of that from both of us.
No sign however of ‘I’ll be here when you wake up I promise’ boyfriend.
Him: it’s me. Look, I have to keep this short..’
Is he leaving me?! Is..wha…he ca… TODAY?! Of all days?!
He keeps talking whilst I look around for someone to share my shock with and I am greeted by the confused gaze of a one day old.
……..You look like your dad.
Stop looking at me…mini-traitor.
‘I have to keep this short because I am currently in a taxi on the way to see you. I went to put all the gifts I bought you in the car earlier and then as I left, the door slammed behind me. And my keys were inside. The keys to the car. And to the house.’
‘That’s not the bit to focus on. I am travelling in a taxi to you in the hope that you have your keys with you in your handbag to the house so that I can pick them up from you, come back here in the cab, get the car and drive to the hospital again.’
‘..and get the gifts.’
‘Oh for…. So do you have your keys?’
‘Yes I do. Calm down it will all be ok. Why do you need the car? Let’s just get a cab home later?’
‘Sure. If you want us to be arrested. You can’t legally leave a hospital without a car seat.’
‘Ok… And where’s the car seat?’
‘In. My. Car.’
‘So you don’t have the car, car seat, keys or gifts?’
‘No. I have the bloody gifts. I had taken them out to the car when the door closed.’
‘Well I gave you a bloody gift last night so we are even – except mines been washed and dressed now.’
‘Touché ….How is he?’
‘Awake. Always awake. Sleeps as much as Edward Cullen. Are you going to literally grab the keys and go back to the taxi?’
‘Yes. And your purse.’
‘… This is all a lie isn’t it. You’re leaving me, changing the locks which is why you need my keys, and you’re going to rob me as well. Perfect.’
‘No. I left my wallet in the house too. Find your keys. And £50 for the taxi. Love you!’
…….Are the gifts edible?!’
Remember ladies – They’ve seen some things they will never be able to unsee and as much as we have had to actually give birth, we haven’t had to watch it. We haven’t had to stand next to and try and motivate a screaming chewbacca for 18 hours, telling it that it looks beautiful and is ‘doing great’ when we have no idea how they’re actually doing, but we do know they’re ‘doing grunts’. With no ear plugs, off switch or spare hand now that one of theirs has been broken by you. They go through this too and after watching a head come out of their favourite noo-noo, they are now suffering with PTSD- post traumatic stretch disorder. They spent last night alone, hugging themselves to sleep with the sound of your screams ringing in their ears. They had no idea really just how batshit crazy you could get… And they’ve thought more than once about calling their own mums to apologise for being born.
2. Put scratch mits on your child. Because, after nine months happily growing away, you’ve given birth to a baby with fingers like Edward Scissorhands. They will try and scratch their eye, not knowing that their nails were so sharp, touching their eyes may result in pulling it out like a cocktail stick on an olive. They’ll look like you’ve attacked them overnight. It’s all a ploy so they get more sympathy/attention from the midwives.
3. Talking of midwives.. They’ll pop their head around your curtain and insist you wee for them. Now. As much as you can. They want to measure it. They’re desperate to. They love wee. You need to go to the toilet and if you hadn’t felt humiliated enough, you have to wee in to a cardboard tray, waddling down the corridor holding your wee, worrying if you’ve done enough wee to make her happy, and hand it to an enthusiastic stranger who thanks you and says well done. You half expect an applause. And now you know how a potty trained toddler feels.
4. Bleeding. Your body has evacuated a human boulder and is now trying to recover. Bring lots of pads with you. The huge ones that make you feel like you’re wearing nappies. Those. You’ll end up putting three on at a time. Gravity will make your vagina spit out everything that’s been in there for nine months. She doesn’t give a monkeys anymore. She’s held it all in for long enough and now she’s letting it out like she’s revealing all to a group at ‘Ouchaholics Anonymous’ .
You can’t use tampons. With the greatest of respect, right now, it would be like trying to hide a pencil up a chimney. There’s nothing to keep it in there.
5. Take Bridget Jones pants, dark towels and spare pyjamas. You’ll need them. C section ladies so it doesn’t rub your scar – vaginal ladies just because every time you move, your cervix turns in to Elsa from Frozen and decides to ‘Let It Go’.
6. Talking of taking things – breast pads. You don’t want to be talking to that hot doctor and for them to point out that one of your boobs has had an emotional moment and started weeping all over your pink top. Your boobs will feel like rocks too as the milk starts to back up inside them, ready to shoot out like missiles at your poor child’s tonsils.
7. Your baby goes through what’s known as the top to toe: you might hear phrases like tongue tie, heart murmur, jaundice, hollow hips. Don’t freak out straight away. All of these things are easily treated and really common. My bubba was so jaundiced he was glowing in the dark. A night light for the other mums on their way to the loo. Very common in babies pulled out and preemie babies. He had a 90% tongue tie which meant he could only use the very tip of his tongue to attack my nipple with. And mummies- please go with your instinct. If you think something’s not quite right – tell someone. Our tongue tie was missed the first time and his jaundice left to progress to needing treatment. Yes they are the experts. But you are the expert on your baby. You’re great at pushing. You’ve proven that yesterday and the evidence is your pink bundle of dribble.Push for someone to take another look until you’re satisfied with the answer.
8. You may have had to have drugs/intervention. They will be starting to wear off now. You’re so achey that just lifting your arm to wave away the tea lady for the third time hurts really bad. (She doesn’t have decaf, so don’t bother asking. Apparently you’re lucky to have a mug on the NHS let alone ‘fancy brews’). If you’re in pain, don’t just deal with it. Get them to give you something to help. You’ve got a newborn baby for Pete’s sake- the last thing you need is to feel like your vagina is singing ‘your sex is on firrreee ‘ over and over again as you shuffle around. Don’t neglect yourself after you’ve wrecked yourself.
9. You will very quickly get used to health professionals coming to ask you to get your boobs out and attempt to battle your child at a game of ‘imtryingtofeedyoustopwriggling’. Your breasts become public property- they will touch them, lift them, angle them for you in an attempt to get your baby hanging off your breast like a snakes mouth stretching around a pink nosed rat. You’ll be told your child has a good solid latch- like a trustworthy front door. You know they’ve got a good latch. Your nipples are more cracked than an amaretti biscuit.
10. Your bubba will have a clamp on his belly button to help dry up the umbilical cord. You’ll worry about knocking it and ripping it off. You won’t. Just make sure the nappy isn’t rubbing on it too much. You don’t need to dress your baby in a bikini for the next week to avoid making contact with it. It’s a bit bleurgh to look at and you’ll ask yourself ‘inny or outy’ numerous times, but beyond that it will eventually fall off in the middle of the night and you’ll find it stuck to your arm during a 4am cuddle and think that you’ve got a lump of poo on you somehow before you realise what it is.
11. Your check- they come and manhandle you and ask you to cock your leg up to one side like a peeing dog so they can peer in to your lady hole and check out the damage. You don’t look, but you’re sure they are having to lower a doctor in there with a rope so he can climb down and check your stitches. God knows how deep it is but he must have been given a walkie talkie to feedback to base.
‘Oh wow- that all looks great! Healing really well! The stitches are really neat and close together.’
You bite your tongue. I f#%xking hope so! Are we impressed because the doctor’s knitting skills didn’t leave me with them really loose and far apart? Are there ever women out there where the midwives secretly think ‘ooh… That’s a bad patch up. She’s going to feel drafts!’ And then they are left to wander the earth with flappy stitches and holes that look like she’s got a family of meerkats living down there?!
They will also push down on your stomach to ‘check that your uterus is descending’. Pardon? Descending in to a deep anger maybe! You’re pressing down on my stomach like you’re kneading a loaf of bread and you expect my uterus to what? Shrink back? It’s just ejected a baby, placenta and fluids the day before, I’m sure it’s having a well earned break in there! It’s called in sick today and is sleeping it off. It’s sent a message to your brain like ‘what did we DO last night man?! I can’t remember a thing. Dude.. did we do drugs?!’ And by the way, every time you breast feed, you’ll get twangs down there. That’s your womb going from being up by your throat and the size of Paris to going back to its previous pelvis habitat.
12. There is no masterclass – you think that somebody resembling Mary Poppins comes over and goes through everything with you. Nappies, dressing baby, how to shut it up, how not to have a panic attack when you’re on your own. Nope. They check that you’re breastfeeding ok and the rest you learn on your own. They are incredibly busy to be fair to them. Don’t fret. All of those dolls you had as a kid will now be all worth it. And most of the time, knowing how to feed them goes someway in knowing how to shut them up.
13. Anxiety may flood over you today. The night before, you had actually asked permission from the midwife to pick your baby up, and she had told you off for even thinking you had to ask. It is your baby. The whole freaky experience of a tiny little tadpole thing growing in to this chunky ball of squishiness suddenly hits you. And you’re just praying it doesn’t inherit ‘that family nose’.
14. If you doubt your baby is happy and trusts you, look at how they’re sleeping. If their hands are up by their head, then you are doing really good mamma. That’s one content baby right there!
15. You will want to eat everything. Suddenly your appetite comes back as your body remembers you need fuel in order to not die and feed another person. Get people to stop bringing you flowers and cards and to bring you cake. Lots of cake. And maybe some biscuits. For when you are in between wanting cakes and want something slightly healthier.
16. Being discharged – if you want to leave, tell them in the morning and you’ll be out within the year. They take so long to finish your papers the baby will be walking out of the ward itself by the time they’re done.
17. Don’t put their going home outfit on too soon. They will be sick or wee on it before you leave and those months of choosing the outfit you want them to sit in their car seat in is wasted. You look around the ward at all of the babies dressed in their beautiful outfits, beaming eyes open and satisfied. You look down at yours with the nappy too loose, it’s baby grow buttoned up wrong in the wrong size, the hat having slipped down over one eye and your baby trying to suck its thumb clean off because it’s still so hungry, just smile. The genitals are contained. The body is warm. The tiny human enjoys eating. See. The. Positives.
18. The car seat is your new enemy. The car is your new best friend. Getting your child in to the car seat for the first time is like asking your brain to solve a puzzle whilst skydiving. No coordination. You stand there together, hovering over this bulky mini prison, lowering your baby into the abyss and hoping for the best. You hit their head on the way in. They are way too low in there. You frantically fish around underneath them for the clip bits, trying desperately to get them done up without them noticing. You’ve accidentally groped them in a bid to find the fastener and they’re wide awake and making you sound like neglectful parents by screaming their heads off. You realise you haven’t had a practice run of clipping the baby in to the car and you’re in the car park, both of you turning in to Ross from Friends and shouting ‘pivot.PIVOT!’ at each other as you shuffle to fix this thing in to your ridiculously small vehicle. You pull at the seatbelts like it’s a string of hot liquorice that you’re just tying around the seat in a bow.
Your baby’s not crying because of the car seats it’s crying because it thinks you’re both idiots.
19. Riding home- one of you is driving at 2 miles an hour, deep breathing and moaning about the other drivers and pedestrians who are just so damn dangerous and you should really have a police escort. The other is in the back with the baby feeling awkward that you’ve got to try and entertain someone you’ve known a matter of hours by saying ‘ssshh’ in as many ways as you can. You’re both praying that your bundle of joy stays joyous. The car engine however sends them to sleep and you have your first five minutes as a couple. Neither. Says. A. Word. You’re both just numb. Are we really taking this baby home?
Why hasn’t he moved for 42 seconds….?!
20. You get through your front door and plonk the car seat down on the nearest surface ( it’s bloody heavy). You give each other a look of utter relief that you didn’t crash on the way home and that you got the baby here safely. You mentally high five each other. You stare at it for a while. Just. Stare.
It’s asleep. It’s not crying. It doesn’t need anything.
You’re wondering if you should call the midwife to check that it’s normal for it to sleep for this long. You’ll call later. When you remember how to use a phone.
‘Soooo….’ He says, still staring in to the seat. ‘Do you… um… do we… uh. You wanna watch a movie?’
You both just stand there for another hour.
You finally decide to ask the most important question of the past nine months.
‘…Can I drink some wine now?’