Plastic toys can drive you to the edge, you'll use terms like 'mum friends' - and hate yourself for it - but dressing your baby up as a hotdog/ Hulk Hogan/ a tiny Darth Vader is the most fun in the world.
- Being pregnant feels surprisingly freeing. Sure, you may feel chronically sick and permanently exhausted (shout out to those survivors) but there’s something liberating about watching and feeling your body change by the week. You know when you get a drastic new hair cut and it forces you to reinvent your entire wardrobe? Well it’s like that. For nine whole months.
- Complete strangers are kind to you – they open doors, offer you seats and ask how you’re feeling. Enjoy this. Because those same people will be giving you serious side-eye in a few months’ time when you’re wrestling a screaming baby, a pushchair and six bags-for-life onto their packed commuter train. Such is life.
- You’ll hang out with a whole new squad of ‘mum friends’ even though you promised yourself that you’d never use the term ‘mum friends’. You probably bonded at NCT classes when you were forced to put a nappy on a Baby Annabel doll, and in no other circumstances would your paths ordinarily cross. But here you are. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll collide with a like-minded, wine-drinking mum who you’ll roll eyes with over all this Annabel Karmel crap then sneak off to a baby-friendly pub with.
- Baby fancy dress is the most fun thing in the world (exhibit a: below).
Chrissy Teigen’s baby Luna dressed as a hot dog
- ‘I’ll never go to one of those airy-fairy baby massage classes’ you’ll say. And then you’ll go to one of those airy-fairy baby massage classes. Because honestly, there’s nothing else to do. And the nice lady who runs it might give you a hot cup of tea and a Bourbon biscuit.
- ‘I’ll never go to one of those happy-clappy sing-song classes’ you’ll say. Then you’ll go to one of those happy-clappy sing-song classes called Jingle Tots or Shake it Up Baby or whatever. Sometimes you’ll even enjoy it. Who knew Wheels on The Bus had a third verse you’ll say to the mum beside you?
- Hair bands will become A Thing. If you’re not using one to restrain your messy ‘mum bun’, you’ll have it round your wrist to remind you which side you need to breastfeed from next. Then you’ll spend 10 agonising minutes before each feed wondering if the hairband wrist indicates the side you’ve just fed from, or the one up next. Invariably you’ll get it wrong and spend the rest of the afternoon with one breast resembling a concrete football, while the other sits like an apologetic empty balloon at the end of a depressing party.
- Your bond with your newborn baby is a powerful thing, sure. But it’s nothing compared to the attachment you’ll develop to your nursing bra. Bye bye underwires, so long lace and silk, this beige beauty (they are always beige. Always) is so damn comfy that you’ll never take it off, not even for bedtime. Chances are, you’ll still be wearing your trusty nursing bra and justifying it with a ‘maybe-it-could-pass-for-athleisure’ long after you’ve stopped nursing. Before you know it, the baby has turned five and you’re still slipping on your ‘special’ bra when nobody’s looking. Try not to be that person.
- You’ll become a nimble ninja overnight. Whether it’s the ‘hug n roll’ manoeuvre that allows you to escape from beneath a sleeping baby just long enough to go to the loo. Or the lightning duck when you tip toe in to check on your sleeping baby and they make a sudden movement triggering you to launch into a brace position on the floor and then commando roll towards the door. It’s a great move. But you still bang your head on the book shelf and, oh look, they’re awake.
- Your primal instinct to protect your baby from all badness is actually quite terrifying. Bullies of the world, you have been warned.
- You will be totally biased about the beauty of your baby. He could have arrived in the world looking like a shrunken version of Mickey Rourke (post Point Blank) and you’ll still think he’s the most handsome human being you’ve ever laid eyes on, as you start Googling child model agencies.
- You will start off with a zero tolerance policy towards all garish, plastic toys – those ones will be consigned to the bottom of the antique wooden chest that you bought to hide away anything that might offend the aesthetic of your carefully curated living room. You’re OK with the cute rocking horse in the nursery and a couple of White Company plushy toys here and there but, really, how much entertainment does one child need? Fast forward six months and your previously minimal bathroom will resemble a soft play centre at half term. Meanwhile, a gigantic yellow and red plastic car will remain permanently parked beside your sofa, which you’ll stub your toe on every time you walk past, wondering where the hell your designer lamp is buried beneath the mountain of plastic shit. Warning: some of this plastic shit will try to speak to you – perhaps reciting the alphabet or counting to ten in French (good intentions) or sing songs at you. At some point, you will inevitably hurl it to the back of the garden just to shut it up. Then one day you’ll be humming that catchy little tune as you walk to work.
- Guilt. Next level guilt. Because you miss the old you. Because they just won’t stop crying and you don’t know how to make it stop. Because you’ve had three hours of broken sleep in the last 48hours and you just did a massive swear under your breath. Except it wasn’t under your breath, it was out loud in the nappy aisle of Sainsbury’s and now a pensioner is looking at you in disgust. Guilt because you spend all day (and night) willing this tiny person to go to sleep. And then when they do you will spend half an hour looking at baby pictures and video clips on your phone when you’re supposed to be ‘rediscovering your metime’ or ‘losing your mum tum’ or pureeing a carrot or something else those parenting books tell you to do. Except you never got around to reading them.
- You develop an unhealthy attachment to your phone because it’s the only thing you can do one-handed that doesn’t involve too much investment from your rapidly depleting brain cells. That What’s App group with your ‘mum friends’ will provide a veritable life line at 3am feeds when you’re wondering if this snorting pig noise he’s making is normal (it probably is). You realise why mums use Facebook so much but you avoid posting anything for fear of looking ‘too mum’, even though it’s really tempting because Charlotte who you once went to Brownies with aged 7 is #feelingblessed because her kid just rolled over for the first time and you think you’re due some bragging rights, too. Except your baby just peed in your eye.
- You’ll get overly anxious around friends without children that you’re being ‘too mum’
- You’ll get overly anxious around friends with children that you’re not being ‘mum enough’
- If you’re lucky enough to have your own mother around, you’ll use that luxury to regress by about thirty years, allowing (read: begging) her to do your washing, clean your house, spoonfeed you while you feed your own child and occasionally rock you as you curl up into a foetal position and sob in exhaustion. Yay for mums.
- At some entirely unpredictable point, maybe in three months, maybe in six months, maybe even in a year, or two, or three, all this new, terrifying, exhilarating, batshit crazy stuff will become your new normal. And the kid will do something hilarious like make a wig out of his spaghetti bolognese and you’ll think, wow, look what we made.