E is two weeks old this weekend. So what have I learnt in the last fortnight? Well, for a start, I seem to be doing this all the wrong way round – I’ve been experiencing things which happen to other women in pregnancy but didn’t happen to me. Like what? Like food cravings, for one thing. I’ve had a real thing for fresh fruit and veg and appear to be subsisting mainly on salads and cereal with a lot of fresh stuff added.
And people kept telling me that you got a lot of smiles and comments from strangers when pregnant – again, this never happened to me. Most people just ignored me (especially if they had to give up their tram seat) but here I am, having conversations with people in the street, in shops, in the pub. Not that it’s a problem as I like playing the proud parent and answering their questions (although ready at a moment’s notice to whip her away from weird ones – the lady in one shop said “Oh, I want her!” Yeah? Get your hands off woman!)
What else have I learnt?
- Babies are hilarious and make you laugh a lot more than you ever thought they would. But laughing while breastfeeding is uncomfortable and should be avoided if possible.
- Mothercare’s bra service is old fashioned and can only encourage women to wear the wrong size. There is really no excuse to start your nursing bras at 34 inches. Some of us really are smaller than that! (I have since made it into town and gone to Bravissimo but this was a mercy mission.) I also don’t appreciate being looked at pityingly by Mothercare assistants when I ask for assistance in finding anything like the right cup size.
- Babies’ farts smell like dogs. I wasn’t expecting them to be perfumed or anything but really. She only consumes milk – how can it make such smells?
- It is possible not only to have the same dream every night but to have the same reaction to that dream every night. Each night since coming home, around the time of the very early morning feed, I have dreamt that I have allowed E to sleep in our bed with us (against strenuous advice given several times by healthcare professionals) and each night I have woken to think “Oh my goodness, the baby’s asleep in our bed, what if she’s suffocated?” I think this even as I hear her snuffling in her moses basket and have to really talk sense to myself to remind me that it was just a dream.
- It does get easier to walk as the days pass, despite what it felt like after she was born.
- Hormones are dreadful things and have reduced me to a wreck. E had an upset stomach yesterday (I think this was sadly due to the Camembert I had been treating myself to having missed eating it while pregnant. Another few months without that then… *sighs*) and really screamed for the first time. It’s all very well advice telling you that they can sense you getting stressed and that you should remain calm when they’re crying; it’s the worst thing in the world to see your child obviously distressed and upset. I couldn’t help it but burst into tears and had to let S take over. Normally I only cry over important things (live music; the inauguration of Barack Obama before we realised how much he’d have to compromise and ruin the dream; the end of E.T….) but now I appear capable of weeping over much more. S finds it bewildering, forgetting that I am a slave to hormones and keeps asking “why are you crying?” It doesn’t help that I leak breast milk at the same time. (By the way, that’s pretty weird too.)
- Parental instincts kick in fast. You guess what they need pretty fast and how to sort it. Also, you behave differently to how you did before they came. For example, I was feeding her on the sofa the other day and turned to wind her when I saw THE BIGGEST SPIDER sharing the sofa with us. In the old days I would have screamed, leapt up in the air, thrown anything I was holding in the air too and run to the other side of the house. This time round, although I did move quickly away from the creature and squawked “Oh my God!” I DIDN’T drop the baby or make too much fuss. S was able to transport it away and we carried on winding.
It feels like she’s been around for much longer than two weeks. I keep forgetting how little time has actually passed and that it’s ok to feel still all at sea.
In short, it’s been an amazing, terrifying, bewildering, exhilarating, confidence building, confidence knocking and fast two weeks. This sounds about right to me.