When you’re pregnant for the first time the one thing you can rely on people telling you is how much your life will change. Of course you agree. After all, you are about to give birth to a little person who is going to take over your every waking moment. But meanwhile you secretly think that they’re exaggerating, that things can’t change that much.
There is also a part of you that thinks, ‘well maybe your life was totally different, but I’m going to ensure my life doesn’t change that much. Hubby and I will still be going out for dinner and I’m sure we’ll get occasional lie-ins. The baby will fit into our routine.’
And then your baby arrives and you soon realise there is not a chance this will happen and that ‘they’ were 100% correct. Your life as you previously knew it is no more.
Looking back, I was prepared for the most obvious changes. I knew my social life would never be the same again. I knew that going out on a whim, staying out for a few drinks after work, a couple of drinks on a Saturday afternoon turning into a massive 12 hour session would probably never happen again. I knew that hubby and I would never again be able to do anything spontaneous – holidays, cinema, dinner. Certainly not without a huge amount of organisation and pre-planning. And of course that negates the ‘spontaneous’. I knew that henceforth hubby and I would always have a child with us and that that child would be our absolute priority.
What I wasn’t prepared for (and neither was hubby) were the tiny changes. The small day-to-day things that you take for granted in pre-baby world.
Hubby and I are creatures of habit. If we had no plans of an evening we would get in from work around the same time each night, eat dinner, cuddle up on the sofa and watch a box set (we love a box set). We really enjoyed this. No pressure, loving each others company, watching telly and eating – perfect. When baby arrived this routine was the first thing to go completely out of the window.
For at least the first six weeks I can count on one hand the times hubby and I stopped for a moment and had a cuddle, let alone a non-baby related chat. Our conversations now invariably involve our son’s nappies, the colour of our son’s nappies, the frequency of our son’s nappies, how many times our son has vomited, whether it was a lot of vomit or just a small amount, and whether it looks like he has brought his whole feed up. What we chat about the most though is sleep, or lack of it. This is something we discuss all the time – because we don’t get any.
Yet whilst things have changed in many ways for us as a couple, this doesn’t compare to how much my life has altered (not that it’s a competition, hubby. Well, okay, if you insist, I guess it is and I win hands down!) You see, hubby still gets to go to work five days a week and still, despite having a child manages to retain some sense of what of his life was like before. For five days a week he has structure and routine and control. I have the opposite. And for a total control freak, that’s far from ideal.
I had never really thought about the fact I wouldn’t be able to leave my baby alone. Particularly in the early days and certainly not for any longer than the time it takes to run into another room to grab a drink.
I rarely go to the toilet alone. Instead I sit, child on lap, pulling silly faces to distract him from the fact that he’s sat on his mummy as she pees. I have had my upper lip waxed with him sat on my knee and I had a Brazilian whilst shushing and rocking his buggy as he woke up early from a sleep (I won’t be telling him that when he’s 18).
My son sits in the bathroom whilst I shower (which I now do in about 30 seconds in case he kicks off). Occasionally I do this whilst he has his morning nap, but spend the whole time in tense anticipation that I’m about to hear his screams through the monitor, which teeters precariously on the edge of the bath, and will have to run to him soaking wet.
It’s only in the last few weeks, since feeding and sleeping has become more of a routine, that hubby and I have actually been able to both eat a meal together and do so with two hands. I’d previously been using one hand to support my son as he breastfed, which meant he became used to having food dropped on him. What with him being massaged with olive oil and me dropping lettuce coated in balsamic vinegar onto him, the poor thing smelt constantly like a salad.
Three months in and things have gotten easier. I’ve managed to have lunch with a friend whilst hubby babysat (although I did spend the journey there and back looking at photos of my boy) and the box sets have made a welcome return. Yes, my life couldn’t have changed any more, but I wouldn’t change it back for anything.