When you first announce you are pregnant, the first thing your friends already blessed with children tell you – apart from to warn you about the sleepless nights – is that this single event will change your life. In a good way, of course. They always tag that last bit onto the end in hasty addition.
And yes, having a child is totally life-changing. Your whole world completely changes orbit to revolve around this small, dependant human-being. You feel a shadow of your former self, as you forego work, sleep, and even showering and brushing your hair some days, to tend to your child’s every need. You stow away your heels and skinny jeans, and your mascara, and embrace the Wurzel Gummidge look. As you approach the 3 month mark, and you finally feel as though you can clutch at some former hobbies once more (I mean, getting out for a run again, for example, and meeting up with your friends for a child-free night involving wine) you realise that as well as changing your life, actually parenthood has changed you beyond all recognition …
Having a baby makes you a qualified Supernanny. In your head. I bumped into a neighbour the other day, who looked a bit bedraggled. Upon quizzing, it turned out their six-month old daughter wasn’t sleeping more than about half an hour at a time. “Perhaps she’s teething”, I heard myself say. ‘What?’, snapped my internal monologue, ‘How the hell would you know? In your last blog, you were moaning that other parents throw unwanted advice at you. Hypocrite. You’re not even qualified to know about the symptoms of teething. But just you wait … ha ha ha’. My internal monologue’s a bit snippy lately, if you hadn’t guessed.
I feel I’ve gone a bit mad. Or at the very least, regressed to my own childhood, because I now hum nursery rhymes all day long. (Even when I’m not with the baby). The most annoying thing is when I catch myself humming Christmas songs (it’s June!) because apparently I don’t know enough nursery rhymes yet. The tune to ‘Good King Wenceslas’ is a recurrent one of late.
Having a baby changes your relationship with your other half too. You find yourself sniping about who has had less sleep, and keeping secret logs of who has changed the most nappies. You also really look forward to that time of day when they walk in from work, and you can hand them the baby, and say,’Here, hold her, I need to go for a number 2′ or words to that effect. [See my last post about some things I won't do one-handed]. That’s not an everyday occurrence by the way. It happened once.
You become an extreme version of yourself. Sometimes even an unrecognisable opposite. I heard myself telling my husband the other day that I would be so grateful if Allegra could just sleep until 5am, which would feel like a lie-in. 5am?! In whose world is 5am ever a lie-in? Clearly this is extreme sleep-deprivation talking. I am not a morning person. Not even close. I am the sort of person who likes to hibernate over winter. 5am terrifies the living daylights out of me. Or at least I think it used to …
So there we are. Not so much a life-changed, as a person transformed. For the better (there’s that hasty addition we parents are so good at!) because I think I have learnt to appreciate the simpler things in life: a morning smile from my little one; a sunny day where we won’t get wet or cold having a walk; an unbroken four hours of sleep. Sometimes I’m not sure I even recognise myself in the mirror any more. But maybe that’s more to do with the Wurzel Gummidge hair.