Dear Me (8 months pregnant),
You are going to have a C-Section. Yes, I know you believe you have a strong pain threshold, you’ve been to all the birth prep classes and read all the books. It doesn’t matter. This child (I won’t spoil the surprise and tell you the sex) is going to get stuck and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it. Some women (yes, I know we’re supposed to support one another but some girls didn’t get that memo) will enjoy telling you how they managed the whole thing with the merest whiff of gas and air and that some women ‘make a fuss’ or ‘didn’t try hard enough’. I repeat: your baby will get STUCK, there is NOTHING you can do about it. Don’t get angry with these women, don’t come home and cry because you didn’t have a ‘real’ birth; smile sweetly, walk away and pray that karma will ensure they get horrendous teenagers.
(Incidentally, these are usually the same mothers who will tell you that their child slept through the night at two weeks old, ate a full roast dinner with a knife and fork at six months and was sitting on a potty, reading The Guardian, weeks before their second birthday. The advice above continues to apply.)
Your child will not sleep alone for a whole night for a long long time. Give in to it, you will get more sleep if you do and life will be a lot easier. Don’t spend all that money on ‘How to get your child to sleep’ books – you won’t stick to their advice and you’re better off spending the money on expensive make up to cover the bags under your eyes. You will want to kill anyone who tells you that their child puts themselves to sleep, stays that way all night and doesn’t rise til 8am. Just wait it out, often their second child is not the same. Then you can make supportive noises whilst internally laughing your head off. Eventually your child will choose to sleep in their own bed and not end up in yours by 2am. Surprisingly, you will miss it.
Breast feeding proves to be much trickier to get the hang of than you think it’s going to be. You might want to start rubbing your nipples with sandpaper now in preparation. It does get better and eventually becomes pretty great. You will have friends who try to breastfeed and find it doesn’t work out for them. Be extra kind to them; they often feel crappy about it, and you need to balance out the judgement they feel from the super mothers.
You are not going to write a novel whilst you’re on maternity leave. I know you think you will have lots of time but what you don’t know yet is that babies eat time when you’re not looking. Your husband will ask you what you’ve done all day and you will only be able to remember two hours worth of activities. The rest of the day has been eaten by the baby. Don’t stress: the novel will happen one day.
Nothing I can say now will prepare you for how you are going to feel about this small person. Remember when you first fell in love and couldn’t bear to be away from that boy for a second? Multiply that feeling by 100 and you’re getting close. That doesn’t mean you won’t also feel exasperated, overwhelmed, emotional, angry, frustrated, isolated, terrified and exhausted (sometimes all within the same two hours.) It just means that, when they are asleep in your arms, you will look down and feel a passionate love that you could never have imagined.
In summary, I know that this is something which we don’t like to admit, but in the coming weeks and months, you will need to accept that you are often going to be wrong.
Firstly, you will think you couldn’t possibly be any more tired. You will be.
Often, you will feel overwhelmed and think you can’t do this. You can.
Sometimes, you will think you are the only one who finds it difficult. You are not.
Lastly, you will look at that tiny creature and think that you could never love another human being as much as you love that baby.
And then you will have another one.