The nine things I never saw coming when I had a baby

You won’t find this list in any baby book. But luckily for you, you found it here, because you’ll nod along with every one…

For a couple of my girlfriends, last year was the Year of the First Baby.

If it was in Chinese horoscope, it would mean ‘the year of blubber, blubbering, boobs, bottles, and Ellen’.

As a mother of one, I know it is not wise to freak out pregnant women with weight gain and birthing tales. No, no, no! Instead, I go for a stronger line – the things you don’t expect after you’ve expected.

My copy of ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’ was well-thumbed and I’d even highlighted sections of ‘interest’, such as episiotomies and epidurals. However, after baby Betty was out, I had absolutely nothing.

So, to the first-time breeders out there who will multiply this year, here is the ‘Top 10 What Not to Expect After You’ve Expected’ list based on the personal experience of yours truly:

1. The lactation consultant

In the haze of Day Two cluster feeds, I was visited by the hospital’s lactation consultant. She was of formidable visage and literally bursting at the seams. I could see a snail trail where two buttons had popped, which complemented her moustache rather nicely.

She asked me to take off my top and Betty’s clothes and nappy. She placed Betty on my chest to wiggle her way over to the goods. Hmm, I thought, I wonder how this will go down at my local Westfield where norks out and nude baby isn’t a regular sight. Then she went and got my camera (*cringe*) and started snapping away, all the while telling me if I wanted to continue breastfeeding until Betty was three or four, that would be wonderful. I beg to differ.

Anyway, I pretended to agree and the moment she left the room I leapt up and was mid-singlet-pull when she barged back in to retrieve her demonstration doll. Busted, custard!  And then I deleted all the photos she took.  Seriously, who does that?

LESSON 1: Extremists of any kind are often bonkers.

2. The hair loss

When God was creating me, he must’ve decided to give me one flaw (just the one) and this was fine hair. Over the years, I have become a hair magician and can turn fine hair into a head of locks Miss Texas would envy.  Give me a can of hairspray and a teasing comb and WE ARE SET, people!

However, nothing prepared me for the post-partum hair loss. It started 11 weeks after Betty’s arrival, and lasted until she was eight months old. By this stage, we’re talking about a receding hairline. My hairdresser told me my hair reminded her of Abby’s from NCIS.  She is now my ex-hairdresser.

LESSON 2: Buy Draino, and lots of it.

3. The muffin top. It’s still here, although has reduced to more of a cupcake level.

LESSON 3a: Elasticised waists will be your friend.
LESSON 3b: Avoid putting on 23kg when pregnant and only having a 3.2kg baby.  (It was NOT all water retention, liars!)


4. The photos. Everywhere.

Former work colleagues reminded me of a conversation where I said there would be no baby photos on phone and computer screensaver and in purse.  There would also be no ridiculous Facebook baby status updates.

Guess what? I lied.

LESSON 4: Like death and taxes, this should be expected. Snap away.

5. The wardrobe

If you think you’re going to be zipping on those pre-pregnancy jeans when leaving the hospital, think again. Maternity clothes will still be of use while the jelly-belly shrinks and, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll have to hit the shops for button-down, stretchy, or sneaky-boob-holed tops.

LESSON 5: You won’t mind, because you’ll be dressing vicariously through your baby, who looks oh-so-cute in the $75 Fred Bare outfit he will grow out of in three weeks’ time. For yourself, you’ll gain a new appreciation for Target, Big W, and Kmart. True story.

6. The two-minute shower

All you will want is a long, hot shower, but that’s out of reach for some time yet. This is where you will build and strengthen your bathing skills and be able to shampoo, condition, wash and shave in two minutes.

LESSON 6: Water restrictions do not apply when you are able to shower at length and in peace.

7. How much you will want your own mum

Even though friends and family will mean well, Mum trumps all in those early weeks. If you’re lucky enough to have a strong relationship with your mother, she is the only person you will feel 100 per cent comfortable with looking after a newborn, cleaning your house, and dishing out advice such as:

  • ‘Give that baby a bottle, she needs more than you’ve got.’
  • ‘No, you do not want to divorce your husband.’
  • ‘You need a wine.’

LESSON 7: Mum’s the word.

8. You will feed baby in the car

We have a decent car. It’s not a Range Rover (which is why I buy Lotto tickets), but it’s nice. I was determined not to feed Betty in the car because I didn’t want it to become a cesspit of old food stuck to toys. Wrong again.

If I combined all the chewed rusks, sultanas, cruskits, Arrowroot biscuits, dried apple, and muesli bar pieces, I could either a) feed a family of four or b) make a large and slightly odd-tasting slice.

LESSON 9: If I rock up to your place with a slice that appears to include the above ingredients, don’t eat it.

9. You will learn how to deliver The Glare

The Glare is reserved for mothers only. It is not a standard glare, which is why it requires capitals. Your first delivery of The Glare will probably happen when:

  • a stranger tries to touch your baby
  • someone coughs in a 20m vicinity of your baby
  • someone tells you how their baby slept through the night at four days old
  • your partner talks about how tired he/she is.

During the baby stage, The Glare is directed at others. However, from toddler to teenage years, The Glare is solely for the child/children.

LESSON 10: The Glare is powerful.  Embrace it.

Expect the unexpected, peeps.

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What would you add to this list?

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