They tell you what to expect when the baby arrives: sleepless nights, endless feeding, poonamis and vomitfalls. They tell you to expect the sandpaper nipples, some lady-garden discomfort and just general shitness in the hair and face department.
What they don’t tell you is to expect a rapid deterioration of the sanity you once prided yourself on. They don’t warn you about the basket-case sliding scale on which you’ll be rated for the rest of your life (the sliding scale ranges from Fairly Normal to Britney Spears).
You should expect to slowly inch your way back to a vague semblance of normal behaviour, but you’ll need to get comfortable with the fact that some parts of your brain will never return. Your frontal lobe has been branded with a white-hot MOTHER stamp….
Welcome to parenthood!
Let me run through some things you should expect when you’re a new mum (the basket-case edition)
1. Partner rage
Before baby: Oh I love him so much, he’s going to be SUCH a good daddy, I can’t wait to be a family, I want to spend AAAALLL my time with him!
After baby: IS HE ASLEEP AGAIN!? Does he do this on purpose? How could he possibly be asleep already, he JUST put his head on the pillow? Is this a fucking joke? Is he trying to piss me off? Why can’t he lie awake all night, just listening to the baby breathe? This bastard who still has abdominal muscles AND control of his bladder who ALSO gets to escape to work and adult conversation and LUNCH BREAKS and TEA BREAKS and fresh air and LIFE!? If I need to spend one more night staring at his blisfully relaxed, snoring pig-face I’m going to gouge out his perfectly un-bloodshot eyeballs and hang them over the crib like a mobile. WAKE UP YOU BASTARD!!!
Diagnosis: Temporary. And completely normal.
You can blame lack of sleep and raging hormones for this one. When you’re so tired you start forgetting words like ‘milk’ and ‘chair’, it’s understandable that watching a person sleep could send you into a homicidal rage. It’s like not eating for three weeks and then watching someone binge on pizza. And you can’t exactly rage at the baby, can you?
You’ll calm down and start to like them again. Eventually. Usually around the time you’ve decided you want another child.
Men, we know it’s difficult to put up with crazy new mums. It’s also difficult to be the crazy new mum. Sorrynotsorry. Love you.
Word of warning though: to anyone thinking of having a baby to “save the marriage”….. bahahahahahahahaha….. idiots. Don’t.
2. Tears ahoy
Before baby: Oh look at that sad story about the sick child. That’s awful. That poor family
After baby: Gaaaaaaahhh…. gulp… sob… whaaaaa *ugly cry*…. wwhhyyyy? Uugghhhhh…. *snot drip*
Diagnosis: Incurable. You’re done for. From now on you simply won’t be able to handle any story about a child being sick, injured, mistreated, killed…. it’s just more than your heart can bear. Honestly, it’s like a switch that flicks inside your heart and forevermore you are 23 times more sensitive to the suffering of any child. You can’t help but imagine your own child in that situation and it’s unbearable.
A common symptom of this condition is violent rage i.e. the need to hunt down and mutilate anyone who has ever hurt a child.
Husband: Are you ok?
Husband: Wait, what’s just happened to your face? Why crazy eyes? What’s going on, you’re scaring me.
Me: Just plotting a revenge attack… relax!
3. Worst case scenario
Before baby: Look both ways before crossing the road.
After baby: We are all going to be killed.
Diagnosis: Prognosis: not good. Motherhood is like a supercharge to the imagination. All of a sudden a simple climb up the stairs can turn into a possible life or death situation when you can see the worst possible outcome of every situation. It might just be a flash in the back of your mind. A quick glimpse into an alternate universe where a walk down the street ends in an emergency room visit, but there’s a constant nagging that your child is incredibly non-permanent. And the worries are only going to grow. Riding a bike, learning to drive, travelling overseas…. holy shit, I can’t cope…
4. The rise of Chatty Cathy
Before baby: Very busy, keep walking, nothing to see here
After baby: Oh hi! How old’s your little one? Oh he’s adorable! Let’s be best friends!!
Diagnosis: Permanent. Your busy/disinterested facade has been burnt to the ground and in its ashes has arisen the phoenix known as CHATTY CATHY. Based on all the middle aged women I’ve ever known, the need to chat is here to stay. Suddenly everyone is a possible friend and playmate. You feel desperate to share your stories – with an ADULT – and find out if everyone else is faring the same (hello blog!). This is also the reason you will fall in love with your mothers group (if you get a good one. Make sure you get a good one). Chatting to other women in the exact same situation will feel like a stiff drink of scotch in the middle of a bad day. They’ll make your head stop spinning, so go forth and chat. It’s good for the soul.
5. My child’s not the best
Before baby: There’s only one perfect child in the world and every mother has it. I can’t wait for that wonderful mother-love to wash over me. Cue soft music, loving gazes and chubby, soft baby cheeks and dimples….
After baby: But what’s that weird rash? Does she have a monobrow? Oh god, people are coming over today and he’s scratched half his face off. Why does my baby look like a small Adolf Hitler? I’m going to need to put a cap over that bald patch. WHY ARE THERE CHUNKS OF SKIN COMING OFF HIS SCALP!?
Diagnosis: Permanent. And completely normal. You’ll still think your tiny Adolf is adorable and love him with every fibre of your being and you’ll start gazing wistfully at old men and their comb-overs who look EXACTLY like your three week old baby. But all the love in the world can’t block out the infant mullet or the baby acne. Do they make Proactiv for newborns?
It doesn’t mean you don’t love your child more than any other human being on the planet. It just means you have eyes in your head and you can see that the weeping rash all up your baby’s face is not cute and you should probably see a doctor about that. God help anyone else who points it out though…..