What’s Not in the Book Part 1

The Unexpected Parts of Becoming a Mammy

There is much written, discussed and philosophised about becoming a mammy. I, however, would like to share with you the parts that I found to be unexpected. The fact that pregnancy lasts nine months gives parents ample time to read up and research all of the many (and it is many) things that you need to or should know. Sterilising, sleeping routines, room temperatures, baby proofing… enough to put the most organised of us into a full on freak attack. The list of things to know is in fact so extensive that after filling my bookcase with an entire shelf of books I felt prepared. Forewarned is forearmed and all that. I am glad now that I felt prepared, I try to hold on to it sometimes as the pots are boiling over, the children are screaming and I have just remembered that I’ve forgotten to get dressed yet managed to put the bins out.

  1. Hard work

Washing, folding, putting away, taking out, handwashing, drying, hanging out…. And that’s just the laundry. Much to my own mammies chagrin, I keep my iron safe and soundly stashed away in my vegetable box. As a rule I don’t iron, I fear it may be the proverbial straw that could very well tip me over the edge into the abyss. Being a mammy is much more hard work physically than I expected and I land most evenings on the sofa to try and not get up again for the rest of the evening. I say land, as I have taken to firing myself at said sofa from the door of the sitting room. I find it a more efficient way of traveling with low energy levels.

2. Routine

There is a certain baby book that has a special place in my heart. The detailing of military style routines as the solution to my babies inabilty to sleep day or night seemed perfectly logical when I found it on amazon. THIS was going to work, THIS was what I was doing wrong…. THIS was the secret that everyone else was using for their magical sleeping babies….. To cut a long story short, I felt much better about things when, after a painful two weeks of fascist monitoring of light, temperature and food intake, I threw said book on the back of the fire and came to the conclusion that babies are smarter than all of us and will sleep eventually. My son’s sleep eventually came at eighteen months. Yes, I had developed a full on twitch at that stage but hey, I had seen some fantastic sun rises.

3. People are full of advice

And not much of it is either relevant or helpful, I have found what is best is to take the smile and nod approach. It is best to listen and then filter out the good from the bad. There are some nuggets of pure gold in there, mainly coming from my GP and the nurse in the GP’s, Angela. Who has since retired and left me a little directionless… now I say to myself, what would Angela say…. She would say, Jane, you are talking to yourself in public again and you look crazy.

4. Memory loss

This one is well documented, however, what people neglect to say is that it never really goes away and that it gets worse on each pregnancy. My career as a project manager is in long term doubt as I fail to remember the who, what, where, when and why of most situations. Professional and social. I started to write things down, but lost my notepad. On the upside, I am developing a rather impressive pile of immaculate shopping lists on the kitchen counter. To quote Homer Simpson, ‘I have a to do list?’

5. Breastfeeding

People who have breastfed their children are really, really, REALLY enthusiastic about it. I mean really. And that’s great, I’m sure your child will indeed be smarter, thinner, less full of allergies than mine, but telling me all this when I cannot do it is not helpful. Perhaps you could make a recording and send it to me in the post, that way I can play it ad nauseam and save time. My son had eczema, it was not related to me bottle feeding him as is popularly thought, it is in inherited. This means that you might as well do a eczema away dance in the garden, as it is inevitable. The sympathy face I get when people (and there have been quite a few) inform me that if I had breastfed he wouldn’t have gotten it is hard to endure, but I as I have mentioned before, I do attribute the twitch to lack of sleep….. Besides, they didn’t have to breastfed my son. The hungriest baby of all time. I did try, but for the mental health of the entire family I switched to bottles. It was either that or get a cow in.

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