Rachel Tompkins on the gradual realisation that life will never be the same again...
What pregnant woman doesn't daydream away the hours imagining all the amazing things they're going to do with their newborn? The adventures they'll have, the leisurely shopping they’ll enjoy while the baby sleeps in the pram (I kid you not - one pregnant friend actually said this to me), and the family meals they’ll be part of. Then the baby arrives and you realise what a fool you’ve been, when in fact, even going for a pee by yourself is suddenly impossible...
Buying a pint of milk
You're popping to the supermarket. The baby screams its head off all the way there then falls asleep the minute you pull into the car park. Now you're faced with the impossible decision – do you wake the baby and go inside and get the milk? Or admit defeat and go home (and inevitably end up sitting in the car until the baby’s finished napping and your phone battery dies). Why someone hasn’t yet invented a drive-through supermarket I’ll never know.
Going to the loo
This conundrum is multifaceted, especially once you throw into the mix your location when you want to go to the loo. I learnt the hard way that on a train is arguably the most impossible to fathom. Because what exactly are you meant to do with the baby when you pee? The buggy won’t fit inside those miniscule loos so you don’t have the option of strapping them into that. Holding a baby and trying to pull down your trousers and then wipe your bits afterwards is a skill a contortionist would be lucky to master. I once resorted to leaving the train toilet door slightly ajar while a kind-looking old lady held my son. Not ideal for anyone, especially if you don’t want to end up with a furtive fare-dodger landing on your lap. At home I got around the toilet issue by leaving my Baby Bjorn bouncer seat permanently in the bathroom, although as soon as they got big enough to move around it was an achievement just to ‘spend a penny’ (as my Grandma used to say) without pieces of Duplo being dropped into the water. Brings a whole new meaning to ‘sh*t a brick!’
Eating a pizza/roast dinner (or anything that needs cutting up)
Why? Because it’s humanly impossible to hold a knife and fork in your hands to cut aforementioned pizza whilst you’ve got a newborn attached to you. I can still remember a birthday meal we went to when my eldest was only a few months old and was going through a phase of crying if I put him down. I ended up opting for the pea risotto because it was the only thing that I could shovel into my mouth with one hand. A lucky few may have an attentive other-half who selflessly cuts your food before tucking into their own, if not, it’s risotto all the way.
Having a conversation...
EVER AGAIN! Sounds dramatic but as the mother of a four-year-old and a one-year-old it’s something that I’ve as-yet failed to master. When they’re newborn most mums are too tired to concentrate enough to string a sentence together, and then when they get bigger and learn how to move around, you’re so preoccupied with ensuring they avoid injury/escape, that you spend your life up and down like a jack-in-the box.
Not loudly pointing out every animal/tractor/bus you see
‘Look at the cows!’ I exclaimed loudly whilst driving the other day. When my observation was met by an unusual silence I remembered that I didn’t actually have the boys on the back seat for a change. But once you’ve had a baby it’s like your ‘I will vocalise everything I see’ gene kicks in, and no matter what you’re doing, and who you’re with, you can’t shrug it off. The same thing happens with singing inane nursery rhymes to yourself, and watching kids’ cartoons even after they’ve gone to bed. Who said I wasn’t good company?!
Going out for the night
Even if you’re not too tired to have a night out, then you can practically put money on the fact that with a little one in the house the cosmos will conspire against you. Whether it’s the fact that on that particular evening they won’t go down to sleep, even though they do every other night of the week. Or that they come down with a temperature/rash/vomiting bug within hours of your intended departure. As I was about to go out on one of my first nights out after having my eldest, I had an unfortunate nappy leak on my top. With no time to change before catching my train, I made do with a baby-wipe and squirt of perfume. If my friends noticed the aroma de urine, no one dared mention it...