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From one control freak to another: Michelle Bridges, you're going to be just fine.

Dear Michelle,

Well done, lady. Well done.

While I’m sure the words of yet another well-wishing stranger mean very little, I wanted to add my congratulations to the pile. Bringing a new human into the world is no mean feat, even when it’s The Commando coaching you through labour. I can imagine that being pregnant in the public eye wouldn’t have been an ultra-marathon in the park either.

You’ve done a tremendous thing.

Michelle Bridges and The Commando. Image via Instagram @mishbridges.

It is the curse privilege of being a new mum that you will, by now, be receiving a lot of unsolicited advice. Everyone has an opinion about how you should act, think and feel during the early weeks your baby’s life. Some of those opinions will be incredibly helpful, some will be intrusive, some judgemental and some will just be plain rude. All of them will conflict.

Don’t feel bad about only taking the advice that works for you and ignoring the bits that don’t – starting with these next dozen paragraphs or so. What I have to say might be the golden breakthrough words you needed to hear, or you may dismiss them as the irrelevant ramblings of a demented woman. Either way, I won’t be offended. You’ve just made a person and are entitled to do whatever the hell you like.

I watched the social media updates and news reports about your pregnancy with a combination of deep, deep horror and bewildered admiration. Girl, you kicked pregnancy’s arse. I could barely lift a cereal box during those final weeks*, let alone 12kg kettle bells. You looked completely content and in control; attacking pregnancy with the same enthusiasm and drive that you bring to everything you do.

Jamila and Rafi.

But here’s the thing: Those very character traits that have served you so well in life up until now, make dealing with a newborn baby a nightmare.

Discipline and routine mean nothing when you are faced with new challenges that extra effort or commitment can’t actually solve. You and your partner are putting in – not 12 or 14 – but 24 hour days. The difference between between day and night disappears, as you give into an existence that is bone-achingly exhausting and devoid of intellectual stimulation. Your body has undergone a huge physical trauma and you’re so far from prepared to tackle this mammoth task.

In those torturous first six weeks, you lose all control.

Your smarts can’t solve a baby.

Your muscles won’t make him sleep.

Your charisma doesn’t make him latch on properly.

Michelle working out during her pregnancy. Image via Instagram @mishbridges.

The skills and abilities you’ve spent a lifetime developing are basically useless to the task at hand. And to make matters worse it’s a task that requires 100 percent of your attention. Your wonderful partner will try and share the load but the reality is that there is some stuff only you can do for that baby in those first few weeks. Because you grew him. It’s your smell that he finds familiar, your body that provides ultimate comfort, your milk that is keeping him alive.

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Labour is so far beyond what you can possibly contemplate in advance and you don’t even get a decent eight hours sleep afterwards to recover from it. A couple of weeks go by and what is expected from you begins to feel desperately unfair and unreasonable.

And it is. It is unreasonable. NATURE is unreasonable.

I remember taking showers to try and escape for just a few minutes but then hearing imaginary babies crying while I was standing underneath the hot water listening to the whirring noise of the fan. I couldn’t relax because every time I closed my eyes to sleep I wouldn’t know when I’d next be woken up. Would it be two hours this time? Or 20 minutes, before I was rudely interrupted by my husband telling me the baby needed feeding. Again.

My body was tender, my spirit in shock and those hormones were wreaking havoc on my brain. I was a broken woman.

And then…. It got better.

Somewhere around that five week mark, my brain emerged from the fog of confusion. I stopped feeling like I was living someone else’s life and slowly started to get more and more of the ‘normal’ me back again. My baby and I began figuring each other out; like with every other human being that relationship wasn’t instant, it took some time to build. Breastfeeding became easier, the snatches of sleep longer and to my great surprise, I started enjoying myself.

Michelle, you might be totally different. After all, you’ve got a level of mental discipline and physical ability that most of us don’t. You might relinquish control with ease, fare remarkably well without sleep and embrace the chaos of life with a newborn. I genuinely hope that’s the case.

Image via Instagram @mishbridges.

But if you don’t, that’s okay. Because it gets better.

You will function as a human once more. You will go to a restaurant and eat an entire meal while it’s still hot. You will drive to the shops without stopping six times to make sure he’s still breathing. You’ll put your headphones in, start jogging and be contentedly alone. You will remember the end of the stories that you tell. You will have long, luxurious, glorious nights of eight hours sleep. And you’ll also have the company of a delicious little person, who will fill you up with more joy than you ever thought possible.

Good luck and be kind to yourself.

Jam x

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