"They warned me that my world would be turned upside down. They lied".

How did such a small person annihilate my entire world in an instant?

They warned me that my world would be turned upside down. They lied.

My world is not upside down. Because an upside down world implies that it’s still the same world; viewed from a new angle. Cars flying through cloudy skies and planes gliding under the sea like submarines. Dinner parties hosted on the ceiling and dogs digging holes in the leafy green canopy of the trees. That sort of thing…

My world is not upside down. It has gone forever.

And the world I now inhabit, in no way resembles what came before.

Jamila when she was pregnant with Rafi.

Today, my son is one month old. He is dark haired and light eyed, has a nose that turns upwards with a rounded bump and possesses infinitely pinchable cheeks. He prefers the left breast to the right and sleeps with his arms stretched out above him like he’s doing a Mexican Wave. His expression morphs from intense concentration to a broad satisfied smile whenever he farts.

He lies in his basinet, all limbs and an oversized head, with a tiny but full belly in between.

How did such a small person annihilate my entire world in an instant?

Thirty one days ago, my time was controlled and ordered. My days were governed strictly by a diary of meetings between the hours of 9.00am and 6.00pm; with a seemingly endless to-do list of related tasks filling the hours before and after.

My husband and I would laugh at this work-dominated life, joking that my second marriage was to the boss. “Why labour in the office for eight hour days when you can get so much more done in 14?” was both of our mantras.

Jam in her past life as a 14-hour-a-day worker.

I slept seven or eight hours a night before my alarm would sound at 6.01am, with 29 minutes allotted for snoozing. I rarely left the house without a full face of make-up. Shiny, washed and blow-dried hair. Check. A carefully planned outfit and matching accessories. Always. Heels? Non-negotiable.

Weekends began with sleep-ins, long and lazy, just like the overpriced brunches that would follow. My husband and I would revel in our coffee snobbery, dissect the contents of the newspapers at length and argue about the political issue of the day. In the evenings, we’d meet friends for dinner and (pre-pregnancy) devour multiple bottles of red wine, barely glancing at the clock.

Today, I am in leggings, a nursing bra and my dressing gown. It is 1.42pm and I haven’t yet made it to the shower because my baby won’t settle unless he is in my arms. My husband is at work and in a few hours time I will start texting him incessantly, berating him for leaving me alone for so long.

I’ve watched four episodes of Gossip Girl since midnight and three seasons since the birth but am not properly following the plot line. My nipples are sore, my head heavy and the laundry basket full of tiny piss-stained sleep suits and poo-soaked towels. I have spit instead of perfume on my décolletage and I couldn’t say for sure whether it’s mine or my son’s.

A new world, indeed.

Jam before Rafi was born.

There have been lots of tears, many of them mine.

In those first days after the visitors began to slow and family returned home, my own crying rivalled my newborn baby’s. I was swollen and sore from giving birth, I was in shock, I had no clue what I was doing and I was desperately, desperately tired.


My tightly organised and controlled life has evaporated. My career-woman identity replaced by a zombie who couldn’t tell day from night, produced milk like a cow and regularly examined the consistency of someone else’s excrement.

Every waking moment of my existence was now devoted to a tiny human being who couldn’t hold his own head up. The reality that the life I had lived up until now was gone – and wouldn’t be coming back – hit me like punch in the face. I imagined that this is what drowning feels like.

But as with everything in life, the period of sheer panic did end.

And just like my world has been replaced with a new one, I am now making myself over.

Version 2.0, as one friend put it.

Version 2.0 can gaze at a sleeping baby for a few blissful moments and not realise that half an hour has gone by. I find the scent of my son’s head more beautiful than anything sold in a fancy glass bottle. I am distressed, not annoyed, when I hear the sound of him crying. I am proud of achievements like Driving Into The City and Going To The Doctor With The Pram, in the same way I used to be chuffed about awards or accolades.

“Everything about him delights me.”

Version 2.0  still sings in the shower – not to nourish unrequited dreams of being a pop star – but so that my son knows I haven’t left him alone. I accept that my upper body is no longer my own but primarily his source of food and energy. I take pride in watching my boy grow and thrive, thinking “I did that.” I look at my misshapen, oversized body in the mirror and shrug because I wouldn’t trade a narrow waist or slim thighs for this little man, any day of the week.

Version 2.0 is not better or worse than the original. But she is different.

At 30 days of age, my newborn is becoming a baby and we can already see glimpses of his personality. When out in the pram my boy enjoys the cool Melbourne wind on his face, he will fall asleep to the sound of the tap running and is fascinated by the lion on his change table mobile but ignores the crocodile.

Everything about him delights me.

And to the deep horror of Original Me, I find it difficult to fill conversation with any topic but him.

I am comfortable in the knowledge that this period of 24 hour devotion and dedication to someone else, will come to a close. That as he becomes less dependent on me, I will once again remember to wash my hair, take joy in pursuing my career goals, socialise later than 10.00pm and recall that things are happening outside the walls of our apartment.

While never returning to what it was, in time, my world will slowly but surely begin to look familiar again.

But for now, I am the centre of my son’s world, so it seems only right that he be the centre of mine.

How did having children change your life? 

Jamila joined the Mamamia Out Loud podcast this week and shared her hilarious first observations of motherhood. 

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7 things every parent of a newborn knows to be true.

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