19 pieces of advice to my formerly pregnant self, on the eve of giving birth
What would you go back and tell yourself on the night before you gave birth, armed with what you know now? I was watching the BBC2 Midwives programme – responsible for a recent attack of the broods – and started thinking about both Eliza’s birth story and how the actual birth process is such a big focus for future parents, but only a really tiny part of the parenting story. There’s so much that you have absolutely no idea about at the time. Which is probably a very good thing.
Last month, to mark Eliza’s 18-month-iversary, I wrote a letter to the future-her of 18 years. As she’s reached her next monthly milestone, I thought I’d take a look back instead, prompted by the TV programme. So if my 18 month post was a letter of love to my future daughter, consider this a 19 month note to self. Here’s the pieces of advice I’d give to to the formerly pregnant me:
- Bad news, labour is not like period pains (thanks, Mum)…
- …’tightenings’ (thanks, wildly unrealistic childbirth books)…
- …or gentle waves of pain lapping at the shore of your uterus (thanks so much, NCT)
- Things labour is like; on reflection, blessedly quick
- And it’ll give you conversation fodder with new mum friends for months and months after
- Nappies go on the other way round (it would be ever-so-slightly embarrassing for the hospital doctor to have to point this out to you, wouldn’t it?)
- Your baby will sleep really well in the hosptial cot, but not at all at home
- So it’s inevitable that, as soon as you finally get the baby to sleep, the doorbell will ring and wake her up, every time
- And on that note, make sure you do your nursing bra back up when you answer the door to the postman…
- ….the delivery lady…
- …and the gas man
- If baby books really did have the answer, there wouldn’t need to be so many. Read the newspaper you bought three weeks ago instead
- Even though you now own 100 million muslins, you’ll end up using your expensive face cloths to wipe up sick at some point
- You and the washing machine will become best of friends…
- …but you’ll hate the washing basket with a passion. On the day you get to the bottom of it, there will be more sick and it’ll instantly be full again of sheets and expensive face cloths (that will also be the day your mum visits and innocently remarks that you ‘don’t do much washing, do you?’)
- Talking about what a great night of sleep you had is the new politics or religion; don’t mention it in polite conversation. Or on Twitter
- But hey, it’s OK – you won’t know what that is for a really long time (pregnancy insomnia really doesn’t prepare you, either).
- Everything really is a phase, and at 19 months you’ll look back and wonder why you spent so long obsessing over breastfeeding, rolling, crawling, weaning, breathing and so on
- But you’ll never quite get your head around how amazing it is that you made this completely brilliant little person that you love more than all the hours of sleep and hot cups of tea in the world. And I hope you never do.