My expectations about being a mum and what its actually like being a mum can be accurately compared to reading the Harry Potter book and then seeing the movie. COMPLETELY different.
It goes beyond my aspirations to be a trend setting milf taking my baby to cafes and wearing oversize sunglasses in perfectly filtered Instagram photos. Incidentally, going to a cafe with a baby is now in my top five nightmares, and in fact you couldn’t pay me enough to voluntarily take Henry anywhere in public that involves food with no splash mat or gurney handy. But more significantly than any of that is the difference between what i thought about having a baby IN my life, to whats actually happened. The baby has taken OVER my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the little dude more than words can even come close to describing. I think I just got caught up in that mentality that I could be, and had to be prepared for motherhood. That having all the rights toys, and learning about the sleep routines, and getting my mum hair cut somehow meant i was ready. Like studying for an exam. The difference with that is you do all your learning and do the exam and then it goes away. Henry kind of stuck around.
Every single day is a learning curve. I finally got the hang of breastfeeding (that is, my nipples stopped falling off) and then suddenly it was time for formula and that meant taking fifty bottles, a thermos of hot water, and trialling enough different formulas to feed every baby in the southern hemisphere to find the right one. I came out the other side of the baby vomit, nipple cream and 2am poo on the carpet and made my grand entrance back into the public setting, cautiously making my way further and further distances from the safe haven of home where i could properly deal with category 3 poonamis and screaming reflux episodes. Then i blinked and Henry started crawling and eating solids which meant going out to the shops became a combination of wearing protective goggles and constantly apologising to waitresses, and chasing after the little ninja in a very public scene that looks like a human version of animal planet.
So in conclusion, my advice to new mums, or people thinking about becoming new mums is there is no such thing as ‘ready for a baby’. It happens and you just do it – because you have to. Its scary and crazy and exhausting and smelly – but it is also the most fulfilling, out-of-this-world kind of love that you will ever know.