Every newly expecting mum has done it – imagined their future with their baby, and what it would look like, and what they would do when the baby finally arrived. It’s only natural to have those desires and dreams. Some of us even need those dreams to cling to so we can get through a difficult pregnancy, repeatedly telling ourselves that all the human-making will be worth it in the end.
I like to call this First Time-Mum Delusion.
1. Baby Massage: Images of your future little baby’s gurgling and smiling face dance in your head, and you romanticise about all the time you’ll spend massaging your baby’s chubby little limbs. You’ll rub your pregnant belly and think about how bonded you’ll become in those delightful moments. They’ll coo and giggle as you rub their tummy, and curl their toes and smile when you gently caress their feet.
Reality: You finish breast feeding then pumping, and pop another pill for your mastitis. Dinner was half-hazardly cooked and you hope your husband won’t notice you ran out of capsicum pepper for the fajitas (a main ingredient that you substituted with green beans, but who cares). You fill baby’s bath, and check the temperature 3 times to make sure it’s not too hot. Checking once would have been enough but you’re too flippin tired to remember if you already checked the temperature already so you do it again. And again. You get the baby in there. Things are going smoothly until baby poops in the tub. You can’t think straight, remember? So you end up grabbing for the poo with one hand and picking up the baby with the other. Realising you have a hand full of poo you turn to the toilet as quick as you can, because you now know what it’s like to try and push poo through the drain of the bath tub from that last time this happened. You do a one hand wash, then grab the shower head and check the temperature of the water. You hose your baby off. You finally get to the change table, and baby pees all over the change table cover you just washed the day before. Baby in one arm and baby wipes in the other, you scramble to clean the change table before you clean the baby. Ahhhh. Finally time for baby massage. You start by grabbing your organic, fair trade lavender-jojoba baby massage oil (that cost $1 a drop), only to have your baby kick it out of your hands and all over the dresser. You scoop as much as you can back into the bottle and try not to be sweary. You promise yourself you will try again tomorrow, only to discover they hate being rubbed. The gig is up. They beg you to stop the massage by screaming until you give in and give them what they really want. More bitty.
2. Baby Sign Language: You imagined teaching your future child the signs for apple, water, milk, or tired, because you’ve already watched the Baby Signs Program. You’d imagined having a dialogue with them before they even knew their first word. You’d understand them, and anticipate their needs. No tantrums or tears of frustration for miscommunication. You’d show off how clever you both were for mastering the secret baby sign language in front of your friends, who struggled to get it together with their babies.
Reality: You’re the friend who’s trying to “get-it-together.” You didn’t sleep for more than 2 hour blocks last night. You went to the toilet with your baby on your lap. You haven’t brushed your teeth in 16 hours. You thought you’d be back at the gym by now but you’re still healing down there, and the thought of having enough energy to walk further than the petrol station for milk and bread weakens you further. You watch other women run past your house in lycra and jogging strollers and wonder when the stinging will stop every time you pee. Or when you’ll be able to wear lycra again without having to wear the big, fat maternity mattress pad between your legs. Things won’t always be this hard, you think. True. Soon enough you heal. Months have passed, you thought your baby would be sleeping through the night by now. Nope. You remember how you wanted to teach them to baby sign but right now all you can muster is the middle finger. Which you give to anyone who gets in your way on the road, (because you’ve only got 20 minutes to get the shopping done before nap time).
3. Swimming Lessons: You imagine your future dolphin swimming towards you with a breast stroke that rivals that of Michael Phelps. You spend hours playing and splashing each other in the deep end, because they’ve been treading water since they were 3 months old.
Reality: You manage to get in the car with out forgetting a single thing; nappies, change mat, wipes, spare change of clothes for both of you, towels, snacks, bottle, wallet with change for parking, makeup remover (because you stupidly put on mascara trying to feel and look more awake this morning), travel mug of coffee, phone. Oh yeah, and your baby. You get to the pool after circling for 5 minutes to find a parking spot. You find a safe place to lay your baby down in the change room (what does that even mean)? The wet shower cubicle covered in hair (from where)? You feel too huge to fit your swimsuit, even though everyone told you breastfeeding would get rid of the baby weight. Dirty liars! You try with the might of a thousand Samson’s to pull it past your thighs. Success. You add that to your list of little wins for the day. But then you notice you forgot to shave your lady bits and your arm pits. Panic is followed by surrender because it’s too late to turn back now. You stare forlornly at your boring, unpainted toenails as you try to remember the last time was you booked a wax. You try as elegantly as possible to get in the pool without drawing attention to your hairy bits, and all is going well until your baby chokes on some water and starts inconsolably crying.
4. Reading: You’ve watched all the YouTube videos of baby’s reciting poetry or reading young. You just know that’s going to be your kid. You think about the stories you will read together that will blossom their relationship with letters. You become friends with the local librarian to get their picks on the best books to read to with your genius child.
Reality: You return the baby Einstein DVD’s you bought once you discovered that Disney is now offering a refund on them because they don’t work. You agree with them after seeing little improvement in your child’s ability to recite the alphabet backwards, play Bach on the mini-piano, or speak Spanish.
You aren’t reading Wuthering Heights to your baby as they drift to sleep because you realise there are ten other ways to get your baby to sleep, and reading isn’t one of them. Plus, it delays you in your all consuming quest for your own bed. Your baby rips pages out of the library books and you feverishly search the house looking for tape while wondering if the library charges for books at retail price or higher. From now on you will only be checking out the board books. Your baby is the one who won’t sit still during library reading and song time. Instead he breaks one of the cabinets in the room, yes – the door comes clean off (this happened to me, true story).
5. Yoga with your baby: Craving a pretzel and dreaming of shaping yourself into one are what’s on your mind when you’re pregnant. You think you won’t be that mum who can’t shake the baby weight, and you start pre-enrolment for mum and bub yoga classes at the same place you did your maternity classes. You will be the calm in the storm. Zen. You will practice mindfulness as your child will never tantrum in the background, due to their ability to sign to you their every need.
Reality: You’re tired. No scratch that. You used to think tired was making another human being. Now your bones ache and you have new crows feet around your eyes from sleep deprivation because of ALL the nights breast feeding. You can’t imagine having to walk the dog let alone doing it downwards. And when you finally make it to yoga class (in a similar fashion as you would for the swimming lesson mentioned above) you realise your baby is not going to let you pretzel or cobra until you breast feed them again. They fall asleep while feeding but then keep waking up in their pram because they have reflux. By the time you clean up their vomit and change their nappy class is over, and you wonder if you can have a refund (for the class, not the baby).
Photo by our friend Raj Kanoge
Peachy Keen Mumma, also known as Jess, is a 32 year old Mother of one, sibling of eight, and big sister of five. A Canadian, Ecuadorian, Australian and American, she loves sharing recipes, reviews, and some fun life things along the way. Did we mention we love her sense of humor too?
Note: Jess is also a Hello Mamas influencer! Interested in learning more about what that means? Contact us!
Challenges like this can be isolating so it’s important you keep up a dialogue with people around you, or seek out friendships or groups that can support you through it. Your mental health demands that you do. You can find other mamas who experience the same challenges as you on this awesome website – Hello Mamas, where you can meet mums near you!