Today, we are going to take a long hard look at you. The mother. Mum. Pregnancy and childbirth changes you forever, it really does. I’m going to tell you exactly how it changed me so buckle up your RTA-approved restraint, because we are going in.
1. Everyday fatigue. The first sign that I might have been up the duff was a bone-dead tiredness that would envelop me at about 3 pm every afternoon. All I wanted to do was to crawl under my desk for a little nigh-nighs. I complained about this to my Mum, who looked at me over a cup of tea one afternoon and suggested that I might be pregnant. Bingo. Two years later that same feeling reappeared, and I thought back to the drunken shagging that had occurred late one night, after a rare night out with Mr Woog and BINGO again. So yes, being tired. Take it as a sign of pregnancy and get very used to it. It will be your permanent state from now on in.
2. An ongoing need for dairy. Chocolate milkshakes were my friend whilst I was expecting. Pass the ice cream, please. I also developed an addiction to Blue Ribbon ice cream with Cottee’s DIET chocolate topping. It had to be diet for some strange reason known only to the pregnant lady. It just tasted better to me. Of an evening I would get into bed with a massive bowl of it, and make sweet, sweet love to it. Because the baby wanted it. And, it would appear, still wants it twelve years later.
3. Losing all sense of modesty. Your body is no longer your personal property, but has instead become a complex vessel for scrutiny. Strangers will rub your guts, people will comment on the size of your boobs and the lady at the checkout will want to know why you’ve put on so much weight. It is out there for all to see (and judge!) And do not even get me started on the medical professional who prod you, cop a feel and look up into your deep nether regions. Let it go, ladies! There is nothing to see that hasn’t been seen before. Take the naked scrutiny of pregnancy to be the warm-up for the intense scrutiny your children will subject you to forevermore.
4. Receiving unwanted advice. For first timers, this is a tough one because you have no idea what the hell you are doing, and everyone else seems to be an expert. “Don’t make a rod for your own back!” you will hear, over and over and over again. Want to drive your baby around the streets in an effort to get them to sleep? Do it! Want to bottle feed your baby, as your nipples just cannot deal? Do it! Just do what you need to do to get YOU through. And smile and nod at the “helpful” advice. Just keep smiling and nodding because you will be smiling and nodding for the rest of your children’s upbringing. Sadly, unwanted advice is not just for babies.
5. An endless stream of fluids. All of the fluids. From the baby, you will be dealing with vomit, poo explosions, unexpected urination while changing nappies and occasionally snot.
While pregnant you may also experience vomiting and excessive bathroom visits. I still recall getting up ten times in the middle of the night, busting for the latrine only to find a few, pathetic drops came out, because baby was bouncing on my bladder, which in turn sent a message to my brain to wake up because I needed the toilet.
Ten times. Every night. In a way, I believe that it was nature’s way to prepare me for the next few years of unbroken sleep.
And after the baby comes out? Well, jumping on the new trampoline with another mum mate apparently will end with one of you getting the hose and cleaning the mats. Apparently. Also, when you see a mum sneeze when they are out and about, know that there is one chance in three that they have just wet themselves. One in three, people, one in three.
6. Unwanted anxiety. It is natural to worry when you are looking after an entire being who relies on you for everything. In this modern age I truly believe that we sometimes know too much and rely on ridiculous lists of rules made up by parenting experts who get interviewed on boring morning television. The curtains in your baby’s room are NOT ORGANIC COTTON! I don’t know how you can even live with yourself…
Relax. The world is not going to end if you don’t have the current trendy pram. On the other hand, the world may well end but you won’t notice because you’re too busy worrying about the baby. Just know: you will worry about that baby for the rest of your life.
7. Whatever happened to sexytime? Oh, I know. This is what got you into the mum-situation on the first place! And it’s is probably the last thing that you want to do, but listen up. A good shag is good for the mind, body and soul. Plus it is free. And you might even break into a sweat, so that totally counts as exercise. Remember to do the deed the minute a privacy window opens up, because when you’ve got a baby, that window slams shut faster than you can blink and definitely faster than you can… well, you get the idea.
8. AWOL social life. It does get better! But having a baby tethered to your boob can make big nights out somewhat limited. Plus, the hangovers are just. Not. Worth. It. Make friends with the staff at your local café, so they know to put in your coffee order before all others. At this time, you might also make acquaintances at the local Mothers’ Group, a collection of women whom the only thing that you have in common, is that you all had sexytime at about the same time (see above). But persist. You will find your nugget of gold in that group. Then you can both lack a social life together.
9. A whole new wardrobe. So, you can’t get back into your jeans. Who cares? Nothing like a good, soft pant to see you through the day. Elastic is your new best friend. Look for suitable garments by checking the label to see if they contain the magical property that we like to call… ELASTINE.
10. Where did I go? When you have your little person, you may lose yourself under a pile of nappies for a moment. Fundamentally, you’ll never really find your ‘old’ self again, but that’s okay because your new self is 100x more amazing anyway. So make sure that you take care of yourself first and foremost.
Ask for help if you feel you are sinking. Hand that baby over to a visitor, and head to the shops by yourself. If someone asks if there is anything they can do to help, give them a job. And if you see another mother struggling, perhaps while trying to put an objective toddler into the pram while she has a newbie strapped to her chest, offer to help. It makes you a nicer person and piles you up with good karma points. And that’s something absolutely brilliant about motherhood that will change you forever – we’re all in this together.
The Continence Foundation of Australia offers a free guide to bladder and bowel control during pregnancy and after childbirth. Click here to view online, download a pdf copy or order a copy to be sent to you.
What is the one thing that changed in you, when you became a mum? More patient? Less squeamish? Share!
More things you should know about being a mum:
- 10 Things That Happen in Pregnancy That Even Your Best Friend Won’t Tell You
- Things I Never Appreciated About My Mum Until I Became a Mother
- How I Stopped Being a Judgy McJudgerson