When you’re pregnant people can’t help but comment. They’ll scoff at you saying things like “enjoy your sleep while you can” or “there’s no going back now” or that “your life will never be the same again”. My personal favourite was the complete nut-jobs that seem to revel in glee while telling you horrific labour stories and tales of breastfeeding misadventure.
My policy was never to engage but rather to smile a wry smile and cooly reply “well, if it was impossible, the human race would have died out by now” before turning on my heel and waddling away.
I mean really… are we having babies so that life can remain exactly the same? No! And do we know that there will be sleepless nights in store? Well… yes. We don’t live in a vacuum! We do have sisters, friends, colleagues that have tread this road before us. In short - we know babies can be hard work but we have them anyway because they also bring a truck-load of joy along with them and who wants life to remain exactly the same forever anyway? Obviously the good outweighs the bad because… You know, survival of the species.
The nicer strangers and friends simply tell you that you’ll need a lot of patience to be a parent. But here’s why I think this piece of friendly advice is wrong for new mums.
Having patience with someone, in this case your brand new bub, implies that you’re putting up with a lot of unnecessary bullshit while wearing a serene expression. Rather than patience, what I utilised in heavy rotation was empathy. Empathy is looking at your little bub and realising that the world is fucking crazy for them! It’s a big, bright, cold, still hell-scape when what they’ve come from is a snug, dark, warm, rhythmic utopia. This whole initiation into the world is one big scary trip! Empathy helps you understand that and not wonder why he’s crying “for no reason”. You would cry too!
Which brings me to a surprisingly helpful piece of life-experience that I drew from after I had Davie.
You remember back in the day when you were chillin in “da club”? The thick stucco of Mac foundation barely veiling your post-adolescent insecurity as you sipped on a cocktail trying to look sophisticated? And remember when your friend took one too many party pills and begged you not to leave them the whole night because they were tripping balls and weren’t sure what was real and what wasn’t? Well, look into your baby’s eyes. That look your friend had back then? THAT’S THE SAME LOOK YOUR BABY HAS NOW! Their world is a choppy sea of new and daunting experiences and the only life-raft they have is you. So if your baby “cries every time I try put him down”, don’t. He’s not clingy - he’s tripping balls and needs a wing-man. And that’s why I was so thankful for babywearing - because it allowed me to meet my bub’s need for almost constant contact with me while allowing me to, you know, pee and eat lunch and stuff.
So if you’d never dream of leaving your bestie in the middle of a bad trip. If you were the type of friend who would administer bottled water and stroke hair and give cuddles and mutter kind words until the trip was over then you’re going to make a fucking amazing mother and don’t let anyone tell you any different!