I have been stupidly busy. We are moving house which has meant going from room to room and packing. However if there is one thing I have learned in the 2yrs we have been here is that I have a gift. That gift is the ability to accumulate useless crap like my life depends on it. It is everywhere, on every shelf, in every cupboard, in every nook, cranny and snug. I have too much stuff! I’m starting to think I am a candidate for Extreme Hoarders. Finding a house to move to in the first place as well as the purge of crap has taken up so much of my time that in my spare time I am currently to be found staring in a stupefied trance out of the window at the snow that is still out there and desperately trying to think ahead to summer when all of this will be over.
That said, someone put a link online yesterday that I read over and over until I could read no more and I still found it useless and I wanted to present the alternative.
It was a set of ‘rules’ for visiting a new mother. I wanted to break them down for you and change them a little. I present to you the actual real life guide to visiting a new mother, I hope this helps.
Their rule; make an appointment to visit.
I started with this one because I can see where they are going. As a new mum your time is a mess, you are trying hard to work around a sleeping baby and you are exhausted yourself. That said, babies are incredibly unpredictable, especially newborns. They don’t have a schedule, they don’t have a set nap time and frankly as a new parent who’s just been through the trauma of childbirth remembering to keep an appointment is perhaps the very last thing on your mind as you sit there with burp cloths covered in vomit over your shoulder. It is highly unlikely as you are elbow deep in a nappy full of tar you are going to glance at the clock and remember you have an appointment, it’s a surprise when the health visitor arrives and she’s expected. I once was so sleep deprived I put a sanitary pad in the wrong way around and had no idea until I had to rip it off of myself; I’m not going to remember a word you said.
Always give a time when you will be there, it’s only polite after all but please don’t be so formal. Our brain is really not in that place right now.
Their advice; ‘Perhaps print off some recipes online for super foods to help produce milk or replenish energy.’
Let me paint a picture for you of my first few weeks with a new baby. The first few days are blissful, the baby sleeps all the time, you are feeling smug that not only have you produced quite possibly the most beautiful child the world has ever seen but they sleep too! You feel sorry for all the other mums that are out there struggling with their ugly non sleeping babies. Sure your vagina feels
like someone took a mountain lion, shoved it up inside there then poked it with a stick as it went insane and ripped the hell out of you and your breasts are so swollen and solid that you keep misjudging the door frame and bumping them which is a similar feeling to having someone take a 2×4 plank of wood and smacking you squarely in the chest but none of that matters. You have performed a miracle, a sleeping baby. Please do give me that recipe then, for in that moment I shall feel like Wonder Woman and I am confident that I’ve got this, I can be that mother.
Now let’s fast forward a week, just a week. You see Mother Nature is a tricky cow and what she hasn’t told you is that your sleeping baby is a lie. She has lured you in to motherhood with false promises of sleepy beautiful babies with gorgeous long eyelashes and snuggly heads, she has let the trauma of the birth wear off (the real reason your baby is sleeping) and she has let that baby unleash its full fury at the indignities you just put him through.
Let me show me now. I’m sat on the stairs. I haven’t slept in a week but it feels like so much longer. My hair is disgusting as showers have become a thing of the past, the baby’s cries have stimulated my breast milk so much that it has soaked two perfect round patches through my, now dirty, still maternity top that I am wearing and I am dripping on to my lap. I have bled more than I ever knew was possible and still lived. I have seen things come out of my body that have scared the hell out of me and in my delirium I have even saved them to show the midwife who has oh so politely and gently reminded me is totally normal and made me dispose of but I know she’s lying and that my spleen is trying to leak out of my
underwear. The pain in my vagina is now past mountain lion and Freddy Krueger has taken up residence and apparently has an itch he can’t scratch properly, I can’t sit for long periods of time without weeping and the cramps from my uterus going back to a normal size are so extreme that at 3am I’m often to be found rambling that maybe they missed one?? Maybe I’m still in labour and any moment now I’m going to have a twin because surely it shouldn’t hurt like this for nothing?
My baby is crying, I’ve tried everything but the midwife has told me he just has to cry it out , I have spit up down my back, I’ve changed more nappies than I thought I would have to and wiped poo from crevices poo shouldn’t be in. If you hand me a recipe for lactation biscuits just now the odds of dealing with a total emotional breakdown are not in your favour.
The best thing you can hand me at this moment is a large slice of pizza or something involving chocolate, don’t try to move me. I need to sit here on my stairs, eat pizza and let it all wash over me. Just for 5 minutes. Also, if you could take a nappy change while I’m here that would be great.
Their rule; ‘Don’t forget a small gift for baby.’
This is accepted, everybody brings gifts for the baby. But seriously, there are only so many small cuddly bunnies a kid can own. You know the gift I was most grateful for? A very large box of Pampers. I was going through them like water, they were expensive and the fact that someone took the pressure off me to get to the supermarket before I ran out was the most precious thing of all. It wasn’t just nappies they gave me, it was more time. It might not seem cute or appealing but honestly a quick call from the supermarket to say, hey I’m in the baby aisle do you need any breast pads or baby wipes will mean more to me than any amount of fluffy teddy bears, I promise.
That said, I’m tired and overwhelmed. If you turn up with a bottle of wine for me you will instantly become my new best friend and all allegiances to previous friends and family will be overturned in your favour. Don’t bring me bath stuff, the idea of soaking in a tub of my own discharge is not made more attractive with a bath bomb.
Their rule; ‘leave the house tidier than you found it.’
You know what? I get this, I do. But please don’t do that. Don’t make it worse, if you make us a coffee (which you really should) then clean up after yourself. If there is laundry on the chair you want to sit on then if the urge takes you fold it up. But please don’t
make an effort to come in and start tidying my house. I love my new baby, I do, but I need you! I need adult company and I need to not feel like a terrible housewife because you’ve spent your entire time here polishing and hoovering. Of course that said, if I fall asleep on you which is totally possible and you want something to pass your time then please feel free to load up the dishwasher and pop that bottle of wine you bought me in to the fridge 😉
Some of my rules.
Do not tell me how tired you are.
Unless you have suffered insomnia for several years and haven’t slept since you lost your stuffy at aged 7 then please do not tell me you are tired because you only got 4 hours sleep last night. 4 hours in a row is the kind of luxury I can only dream of and although I might smile and grit my teeth while I say oh dear, inside I am hating you so much right now.
Do not patronize me.
I look like shite. My hair is lank, my eyes are sunken, I can barely string a sentence together, my stomach is the consistency of play dough and although I’ve tried to hide it under the maternity clothes it swings as I walk, I make a strange little ooosshhh sound as I sit down and before I start to leak milk my breasts feel like someone has stabbed them all over with needles which may cause me to randomly grab them.
Please don’t tell me I look great. I know you’re lying! In fact it’s best not to mention my look at all but to totally and utterly deflect any and all attention about looks on to the baby.
You see, even if deep down I have concerns about the fact his head is a little cone shaped, or I have my suspicions male pattern baldness runs in his family due to his total lack of a hair follicle, I am stupidly proud of the loud smelly pink squishy bundle.
I can’t help it, it’s like no matter what he puts me through I am preprogrammed to know that this is the best child to ever be put on this earth. Then as it really starts to get too hard, just as the exhaustion gets to you, the smell and the hard work at around 6 weeks, he will smile at me and by god will I melt. All that work will mean nothing and I will keep on doing it because that smile made every second worth it. Mother Nature is good at this.
So, even if you think this is perhaps the ugliest infant you have ever seen as it grimaces at you with it’s weird ugly alien shaped head, winking like a creepy old man with breast milk dribbling down its chin, tell the mother with as much sincerity as you can muster that this is the most adorable baby you have ever laid eyes on and even if you haven’t bought her chocolate she will forgive you.
Well, maybe. Not bringing chocolate is the kind of mistake only a rookie would make.
I can’t lie to you, I’m sleep deprived and I’m hormonal, crazy hormonal. Even I can’t keep up with myself. Your friend you know and love may not be at home right now. You could find yourself confronted with 50’s housewife. Looking beautiful in her apron making those lactation biscuits you so thoughtfully advised her about. This won’t last. You don’t know what’s coming next; hell I don’t know what’s coming next. I could be laughing hysterically at your jokes only to have my partner walk in to enquire what’s so funny and to snarl so viciously at him you will recoil in fear and wonder exactly how 2 people who so clearly despise each other ever made a baby in the first place.
I will cry, a lot. I won’t be able to tell you why I’m crying. You make me coffee, I cry. You say hello, I cry. We watch daytime tv for a while, I’m going to cry. Quite often tears will be falling and I won’t even know it. They aren’t happy tears or sad tears they just happen and they will stop eventually. Hand me a tissue and we can get past it.
Now that is cleared up, I am heading back in to the packing. When I get back my house will be clean, the boxes will be packed, the children will be playing happily and the snow will be gone.
Or none of it will be done until the last second, the children will fight like cat and dog and the snow will be 6” deeper.
I know the more likely ending to this story.