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At home with a newborn: "Nobody told me it would be like this."

NB: This is not Beth’s baby.

By BETH MACDONALD

All the pregnancy books and stuff you read when you are pregnant prepare you for just that: the pregnancy. The tricky bit is all the stuff that happens AFTER that. And by tricky, read the hardest thing you will EVER do in your life (except, of course, if you run marathons or cure diseases or something hard like that).

It’s like all those brides out there who become obsessed with prepping for their wedding without actually thinking about the whole marriage thing. I think it was the wise Dr Phil who said to prepare for the marriage, not the wedding. So it must be true. Because he is a doctor and everything. You are prepped for the pregnancy-  just not so much on everything that comes after that. Like the child-rearing bit.

Like every other first-time Mum, I was completely swept up in the whole growing-a-baby thing. Thinking smugly to myself how clever my husband and I were for making a baby. A baby! I subscribed to all those emails that describe what the baby had done that week. “See honey? I’m tired because I grew some eye lashes!” I read everything and anything I could get my hands on about being pregnant and giving birth.

I soaked up all the attention that I was getting, the seats on the bus, the ever-growing concern from my husband about how I was feeling every second of the day, the chats from co-workers about how I was doing. I loved, reveled, BASKED in all it’s first time pregnant glory! It was just the family and friends who were already mothers who smiled at me as I passed on the charcoal chicken just in case I would get listeria. If only I knew what that smile meant.

Boy did I have NO clue. None. Not one. And that’s okay. NO ONE can tell you just what you are getting yourself in for. It wasn’t until 1 week being at home that I called each and every female I knew and trusted who had kids and said, “No one told me it would be like (adding in possibly F***ing) THIS?!” And each and every one of them, with loving concern said, “I know. It’s hard. It’s really hard. But it DOES get easier. Promise.”

For starters, no one asked me how I was anymore. It was ALL about the baby. No one really cares how you are, except your Ob who may be concerned whether your stitches are healing well, or that you have passed your first movement. Even your beloved husband may only remember to ask if you are feeling OK when he sees you wincing in pain as you attempt to latch on the baby for a feed while you have BLEEDING NIPPLES. It’s all about the baby.

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This is Beth.

Then there was the whole recovery thing. I remember reading, or someone telling me but I forget who now (oh that’s just another part of having a baby – you lose your memory) that recovering from childbirth is like getting over a serious car accident but with no rest whatsoever.

It’s all kinds of messed up. You stand there, post shower, hair dryer pointed up the wazoo laughing at yourself for thinking that being pregnant was hard. Giggling that the time you thought you were really sick when you had a flu was bad. At least you could rest then. And watch bad daytime TV.

And then you’re sent home with NO real idea how to look after the baby. When the time came to finally leave, I wept. There was NO way I could look after the baby. I mean, I didn’t have one of those clear cribs at home that I could wheel around, for Christ’s sake! But you suck it up. And you are sent home. Full of fear. Pure, unadulterated fear. Oh, and a newborn.

Weeks pass in a fog of no sleep, Guthy Renker nighttime TV viewing, mastitis, breast pumping and bleeding nipples, fights with your partner at 3am, endless trips to the shops, mother’s group meetings and endless cups of decaf (no screw that real) coffee. And then after weeks (nay months), that fog finally lifts and you look down at this little person that you finally sort of understand, that you wonder how you ever lived without.

You so are bursting with love for this little person that you can only stare in wonderment. Big, chunky tears falling silently down your tired cheeks. You only then understand just why people do this. It’s worth it. Totally worth it. Worth the labour, the stitches, the fear, the sleepless nights, the oosing yourself completely. All of it. It just takes a little time to get there. Promise. I mean I went back and did it again so I’m not just saying it.

Beth McDonald is a wife, a mother and a sister. She believes in putting it all out there. You can follow Beth’s bloghere and you can follow her on Twitter here.

How did you feel when you first brought home your baby? 

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