Before I hit you with my brutally honest words, please let me assure you that motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. My kid is my greatest achievement, and the love of my life. But oh my God, that first year was a total mind F*CK.
Which is why, in the name of sisterhood, I want to talk about what really happens to you after you have a baby. Not about stuff like you’ll get mastitis, or will be tired. You’re already expecting that – everyone around you has warned you.
I want to tell you about the sh*t that goes down in that first year that no one will admit to you. Because they don’t want to terrify you. Or they hope it might be different for you.
I do, too.
But I’m also not going to BS you. Chances are, you’ll experience these moments as a new mum. I definitely did, and everyone I know did. You won’t read about them in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. You will read about them in subversive chatrooms on the dark web on threads called, “Why did no one warn me that having a baby will f*ck me up like nothing else?”
So let me enlighten you, prepare you, before you’re in the glorious chaos of it all:
1. You will curse the father and that’s OK.
You think you won’t, but you will. Not all the time, but at some point. Maybe even for months at a time.
Out of all the dads I’ve known, precisely none of them have hit the ground running. Seriously, who does? But at a time when a new mum is also winging it, she will look to the father of the child to see if he’s got any ideas. If he has a plan, or any genius contribution to this sh*t show that is bringing your first baby home.
The answer will usually be no. He’s going through stuff, you know, too.
Not that you will care. Which is why you will, from time to time, feel such a hatred and an anger towards him that you wish gross injustices, evil spirits, and eternal damnation on his being. That’s totally normal.
Most of the time, he won’t even notice. Other times, he will go to work early and come home late to avoid your (completely justified but somewhat exhausted) wrath.
He will often say the wrong thing, but so will you (but mostly him). Not only will his body dare to not change, but his personal freedom will also largely remain intact. You will witness this, agog with the injustice of it all.
Yes, yes, it’s #notallmen. It’s #justmostofthem.
But here’s the thing to remember, always: it’s temporary. It will pass. Agree on things like, “What’s said at 3am when only one of you is covered in vomit and the other one is fast asleep/overnight, stays overnight.”
And you’ll be fine.
Pro tip: get him to check out How to Dad.
2. You will realise it’s ALL. UP. TO. YOU.
There will definitely be a moment – usually in the first few weeks after paternity leave is up, or your mum has returned to her home in another city, when all the hospital flowers are dead and you have eaten all the lasagne your neighbour made for you for the week in one sitting – when you realise this:
“Oh, sh*t. This is my job now.”
There’s no outsourcing. It’s not a flexi-job. There’s no sick leave, annual leave, made-up doctors appointments so you can go home early.
This is it. And it’s up to you. Because no one else is the mother of that child.
Hopefully, you’ll have relatives, and friends, and other forms of support. But you will never stop being a mother.
The moment you realise that – that life as you knew it is over – you’ll feel overwhelmed, worried, and scared.
Welcome to motherhood. Get used to it. (PS: I should also mention that it’s absolutely worth it. Most of the time.)
3. You will “eat in shifts”.
I remember one of my sisters telling me how irritating it was for me to say that. But watch any parents of a baby or small kids in a restaurant, and that is what is happening. There’s nothing wrong with that. No one is judging you. But be prepared to do it, or never eat again.
Which also reminds me – you’ll become a master at eating with one hand, whilst holding a ten kilo weight in the other.
4. You’ll cry about the most basic stuff.
The tears will come from exhaustion, frustration, and/or a pervasive sense of “What fresh hell is this?”
I remember once crying because I was so looking forward to my medium-rare steak for dinner, but my idiot husband (who’s now an ex, and for exactly this reason), had ‘kept it warm’ in the oven.
“Now it’s a well done steak! I hate well done!” I wailed. And rightfully so.
(Side note: whilst crying is perfectly acceptable, nay, your God damn given right, also do not be afraid to ask for help, ever. You must take care of yourself, or you can’t take care of your babe. Reach out. Get help.)
5. You will lose friends.
It's a new chapter of your life, and some friends will get it (not just the ones who are already mums), and some won't.
You see, there's now a very contentious 'elephant in the room' wherever you go: your parenting.
Your friends (and family) will judge you to your face, and behind your back, for your choices. A lot of it will be well-intentioned opinion, designed to help you. Let that stuff go with a "thank you".
But the ones who question your standards? Who comment on your baby's perceived deficiencies? See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya.
6. "Bouncing back" is BS.
Yes, one day you may fit back into the so-called Holy Grail of mummy-weightloss: the pre-pregnancy jeans.
But newsflash, girlfriends - you're never gonna be the same again. Your mind, body, and soul will be irrevocably changed. And that's not just hyperbole.
Sure, there will be a time when you feel like 'yourself' again. But that's not 'bouncing back', you're just remembering some parts of you - because there is no going back.
Motherhood is as permanent as it gets.
And honestly, most mums I know wouldn't want it any other way (well, at least 80 percent of the time), no matter how much havoc her spawn/beloved angel wreaks on her life.
Just embrace the change.
So, good luck, my friends. Sorry if I've robbed you of some of your innocence before you've even set a date for your baby shower, but consider that a metaphor for being a mum: expect the unexpected, be prepared for the completely unplanned - and you will be fine.
What is something you didn't expect in your first year as a parent? Tell us in the comments section below.