First published in the Portsmouth News, 28/01/2014.
Before I had children, nobody told me the truth about parenthood. Perhaps this was because my friends didn’t want to urinate on my pregnancy parade, or perhaps it’s evolutionary instinct, ensuring the continuation of the human race.
Before I gave birth, I had a vision of family life. Essentially, we would all look as though we had rolled around in a Cath Kidston store, smothered in glue, before skipping back out draped in whatever had stuck to us.
You can imagine my shock therefore after giving birth and returning home with our newborn. For starters, she made it sound as though an entire farmyard had invaded our bedroom, and secondly, she refused point blank to sleep during the hours of darkness.
Nobody told me that I would spend each night feeling as though my eyeballs were being sucked out of my skull through a straw, whilst I gamely continued batting my baby in the face with a giant mammary. The memory of standing over the bathroom sink and effectively milking myself is a particularly special one.
I also recall the visits from the midwives in the days following the birth, and my husband’s fury when one of them traipsed in with a chipolata of puppy poo stuck to the heel of her boot. Those were the days when we could still take pride in our surroundings, because nobody had yet thought to flick Wheetabix and vomit about the place.
I sat on the sofa, clutching my c-section wound, eyeballs swinging out of their sockets, looking about me and wondering how it had all come to this. I hadn’t seen my own feet in six months, each time I moved a different part of me leaked, and after having a bath I had to lift up my own stomach and use a hairdryer on my c-section scar to promote healing.
Eventually, three weeks after the birth, when we were both demented with exhaustion, my husband and I burst into tears together. We clung to each other, mildly hysterical, and he suggested that he had post-natal depression.
Luckily, neither of us had anything of the sort. Eventually life settled down. We all slept again, and one year down the line, nostalgia set in. We began to miss those days, the feel and smell of that newborn weight, warm and fragile in tired arms.
Nine months after the nostalgia set in, we welcomed tiny daughter number two. And invested in a 2100 watt AC professional strength hairdryer.