Image: Getty | Words: Lucy Lucraft
I recently had a baby, and by recent, I mean last year…. So light years ago when you think of the nappies changed, hours of sleep lost, questions asked about her ‘weight percentile’ and trips to the health visitor. But in very real terms, it feels like yesterday I held my little squidge after an exhaustingly long but positive labour.
And let’s talk about that labour shall we? Because I thought, nay, I planned to have a home birth. Yep, a home birth resplendent with candles, clary sage and a Spotify playlist to boot. I thought I would ‘breathe my baby out’ and snuggle up with her in my own bed afterwards. Obviously, that did NOT happen because after 27 hours and lots of breathing she wasn’t up for chilling at home. So hospital it was.
This signalled the vast difference between my expectations of motherhood and the reality.
Because in nine months of caring for my little squidgy, sassy bundle of joy I’ve managed to be slapped in the face with the reality of parenting in the following ways:
- I realised that napping does not happen on cue and rarely when I want it to.
- Baby-led weaning made me repeatedly scream “why, God, why” as I reverted to puree once more.
- I discovered breastfeeding is excruciatingly painful and not at all like it looks on telly.
- On several separate occasions I left the house without essentials such as water wipes, milk, snacks and, most embarrassingly, nappies.
- I made friends with approximately 0 other mum friends at mum and baby groups because…..I didn’t go to any.
And these are just a sampling of things I’ve done, things I NEVER thought I’d do. Because I thought I’d be a chilled-out earth mama who would strap my baby girl to my chest in an eco-friendly wrap and take her everywhere with me.
Another interesting idea I had. Yep, I thought my baby would: “fit in with MY life” and I’d go back to my freelance work after a few months because: “I can work while she naps.”
As a travel writer, I’m used to having the freedom to jet off at a moment’s notice for work, and when asked how I’d fit this around being a full-time mum I scoffed. Obviously I’ll just take mini-me with me, right? A week-long exploration of Israel? SURE! City break? Yes please!
Never mind the fact babies don’t help you take notes, pictures or allow you to get a good night’s sleep.
I mean, if you aren’t reading this and face-palming I judge you.
I think a big part of this is what I consumed during pregnancy. No, I don’t mean the food which was, incidentally, consumed by the bucket load.
I’m talking about the blogs, the books, social media and every single real-life mum I met. The sheer volume of information out there is overwhelming. I devoured Holly Willoughby’s Truly Happy Baby and knew, absolutely knew I’d be just like her. So chilled out, and so ready to pop out a football team of babies in quick succession.
Nine months on, I’ve realised with a heavy heart that I’m not Holly. I’ll never be Holly. And that’s okay. Because although my mama life is messy, chaotic, and often utterly ridiculous, it’s pretty damn awesome.