With two sets of antenatal classes, scouring of blogs and forums and a fair bit of book-learnin’, there are a few things I still wasn’t quite prepared for before getting to the other side of natality/natalism/the dark side of the moon. For instance…
1. The horror film bleeding
Disclaimer: this is gross but honest. People kept telling me that breastfeeding would keep my period at bay. I thought: “Score.” What I didn’t know was that I’d bleed for weeks post-birth. At times it’s been particularly, uh, interesting. About to rush out of the house, having gotten dressed up for church one Sunday, I could have sworn that I was peeing myself. Looked down and it was like a scene out of the Vampire Diaries (not a horror flick, I know, so shouldn’t fall under this subtitle but bear with me, the third one explains any randomness in this post). Blood bypassed the pad, seeped out on to the floor, necessitating a full change of clothing – which brings me to…
2. My wardrobe becoming virtually useless
The bump should have prepared me for this but I think somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I figured that I’d be able to wear my clothes again after having the baby. I somehow forgot that breastfeeding would have something to say about that. Everything is either too short/tight to provide any cover for wapping my baby onto the boob or too fitted to facilitate my now unrealistically enormous “rack”. This latter point isn’t even an exaggeration. I’m talking my H-cup nursing bra being a bit on the snug side. I am now dumping almost every rag I own into a rubbish bag for storage until – when? Will Talitha feed for one or two years? Will there be another baby on the boob by then? Are we talking possibly four years then? Will these clothes still be relevant to my life?
3. The reality of baby brain
Generally, the more comfortable I am with someone, the more likely our conversations are to lose structure. It’s normal for me to flit from one topic to the next through the loose connective tissue of word association – it’s likely to be a baby-related word apparently. It seems that now the new lack of mental space has thrown this out of control. Laurence finds this at times frustrating but usually humorous. I often don’t understand why. Stronger evidence of baby brain has included accidentally attending an NCT nearly new sale in my bedroom slippers and standing on the pavement outside my house, having just put the baby in the car, with my boob hanging out in clear view.
4. All the emotions
I know I should have expected this, but its sheer intensity has surprised me. I am amazed at the heights brought on by my baby’s smell and by the twitches that will one day become her smile. It’s hard to explain, but at times holding her sleeping body against my chest makes me feel “more human”. But a throbbing headache, sleep deprivation, missing kittens and a baby who spends an entire day either feeding or crying is enough to send me over the edge, wondering if I’ve made a horrible mistake, if I’m cut out to be a mother, if I can do this. At least once each day I feel powerless. Then Talitha sleeps, I change her nappy and she looks at me instead of crying, the pram obeys me, I drink something hot before it goes cold and it feels like rhythm, even if inconsistent, is possible.