Cat Neilan is 12 weeks into her first baby, and shares with us the things she would have liked to have known before the baby had come...
Ah, pregnancy. The bliss of ignorance. I was going to retain my independence and crack on with that novel. I was going to tough love my kid to sleep through the night at one month. I was going to get my husband to do all the gross jobs so I could focus on cuddles and fun.
Three months in and it's fair to say I have singularly failed in all these areas, and more. If I could go back in time, this is what I'd tell my pre-birth self...
1. That bump isn't going anywhere for a while
I know this is the one time you have a legitimate reason not to diet but that doesn't mean you need both slices of cake. When you waddle out of hospital with your new arrival, you're still going to look about eight months pregnant. And you're not like the one person you know who lost it all immediately, you're like everyone else who was never quite the same afterwards.
2. You'll never wear nice clothes again
OK, mayyybe sometime in the distant future but the first six months-plus are definitely out. This is because a) you won't be able to fit into your nice stuff, b) you'll need clothes that give easy access to your boobs and c) babies puke, wee and poo. Everywhere. Get used to that jersey, it's here to stay.
Oh, and stockpile slip-on shoes. Laces are the last thing you need to worry about.
3. The aftermath
You're going to bleed for several weeks afterwards. This is some cosmic secret that no one tells you about. It's fine - just a (really) long period - but get some sanitary towels in before you go to hospital. You’re going to need help getting out of bed. You’re going to walk like an old man. You’re going need all the pillows in the house (and maybe a few more, just to be sure).
4. You're not going anywhere
If you want to go to a play/gig/dinner party/all-nighter, do it while you're pregnant. Breastfeeding means you can never be more than two hours away from your beloved baby. And when you do eventually escape (for a whole hour), you'll spend the whole time worrying that the baby is crying and you're a terrible mother. Enjoy the last vestiges of your independence now.
5. You need to stop worrying about that...
Nappies are a breeze (you'll even find yourself weirdly happy when you have to deal with poo) and the tiredness is completely different to that horrible hungover feeling you get with pregnancy tiredness. You are exhausted, but it's manageable thanks to the lack of nausea, and at least you don't have to sit through never-ending meetings looking perky and fresh.
In fact, stop worrying entirely. When the baby gets here you are going to worry about everything (including why you didn't worry about something and whether that makes you a bad mother) so make the most of this chilled out existence.
6.Get ready for those emotions
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. Sometimes simultaneously. Often without discernible reason. The strength of emotion is going to take your breath away. The love you feel for this new little being is like nothing you’ve ever felt before (with apologies to his father).
7. Enjoy the silence
In pre-birth world, silence comes for free, but in this world it must be bought (normally with a boob, singing nursery rhymes non stop, or endless shushing while standing under the extractor fan). You won't get to eat dinner in peace again. And when things do go silent, you will be so worried that something is wrong you'll find yourself wishing for the cries again.
8. All that maternity "me time" (!)
You'll get loads of time to yourself after the baby is here. Time to go to the toilet with the baby asleep on you because he'll wake if you put him down. Time to eat your lunch standing under the extractor fan while the baby is asleep on you. And time to get some one-handed (and half-hearted) chores done while the baby is asleep on you.
But all those grand plans you had?
Just put them on ice until you've retired. You can do it when you're wearing all your nice clothes again...