I didn’t mean it, truly I didn’t. Today, I went out for brunch with some girlfriends (that’s right, I had a moment to myself without baby stretching her arms out and repeating “mum mum mum” over and over again!) and one of my friends told us she is expecting. Knowing she has been wanting this for so long, we could not have been happier for her. We smiled, we asked the usual questions, due date, scans etc. Then, me and the other Mum of the group started in with the truth bombs. It was all with good intentions. After all, most of us come out of the other side of the first six months of parenthood cursing those who didn’t tell us what to expect. I felt I was doing her a favour.
We started with breastfeeding. My friend looked the expectant mum in the eye and said deliberately: “Breastfeeding. Is. Hard. Nobody tells you that. Don’t pressure yourself. If you can’t do it, don’t let it get to you. It’s so hard. It’s so, so hard.” You could hear her own trauma through the words. I had to agree, after having a small baby who wouldn’t latch and, when she would, would fall asleep, gifting me with three months of feeding and pumping and pushing through the “give up” point. Sure, it’s easy now, but it was hell for what felt like eternity.
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Next, we talked about the blood. That’s right, it’s gross, and maybe that’s why nobody talks about it. I thought having a cesarean would mean little of the icky stuff. But no – nobody prepared me for the need of jumbo packs of … I don’t know, what would you call them? Pillow pads?! Pads so thick that your pubic area looks much like that of your nappy-wearing baby. And believe me, they are necessary. For days. Sometimes weeks. That’s all I’ll say on the matter – I may have been more graphic at brunch, but that was between friends!
After that came talk of the night sweats, that lovely period where your body is expelling all the extra fluid you carried while you were pregnant. I thought I was sick. I thought I had an infection and should rush into hospital. Nope. It’s normal. Another of those things nobody tells you about. Oh, and the hair loss! So much hair loss. My friend laughed, talking about how she could have braided herself an extra blanket with her hair.
As we went on, the expectant mother started to pale (as I’m writing this, I’m realising that most people would). In fact, you could see the fear creeping over her face, as the words spilled over the table. One of my friends turned to me, sympathy in her eyes, and said, “now tell her it’s all worth it”. I did, and it absolutely is. One thing I’ve forgotten is that when parents speak to parents that’s an unwritten given. We don’t have to say, “but I wouldn’t change anything for the world”, we know that – but outside of parenthood, it all just sounds downright scary without that side note! It’s true, I would not change a moment, but gosh I wish someone had’ve told me some of the crazy things that happen when you have a new baby (then again, most us have probably forgotten through our haze of sleep deprivation, cracked nipples and constipation – there I go again).
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