I’ll be straight – there are a lot more than five things I wish I’d known about pregnancy and birth. But five is a good number for a list, and listing any more than five may reveal just how clueless I actually was (and I was very clueless!). So, here it is:
1. In pregnancy, there is not always blooming
I was promised blooming. My friends promised me blooming, my family promised me blooming, and I waited a good 41 weeks and 4 days for blooming. It did not come. The closest I got to blooming was a ‘healthy glow’ during a city break to Tallinn at 6 months pregnant, but that had more to do with the temperature reaching 34 degrees and my husband having booked a hotel which ended up being a good 30 minutes’ hill walk away from the city centre.
Some people bloom – I’ve seen them. But not everyone. Just don’t bank on it.
2. You cannot eat all the cake you want
Well, you can, but there’ll be consequences. Possibly very LONG LASTING CONSEQUENCES. It’s now twenty months since Little B was born, and I am still one stone heavier than I was before becoming pregnant. As long as Pringles remain on special offer and my willpower remains undiscoverable even to GPS, this is unlikely to change. My pre-baby clothes are therefore destined to spend the rest of their sorry lives confined to the loft, only to be brought out on ‘special occasions’ (i.e. when I celebrate a temporary loss of 2lbs and falsely convince myself that my old size 6/8 clothes must surely fit me again). Of course, these ‘special occasions’ invariably end in huge disappointment, but thankfully, there are always KitKats.
3. On leaving hospital with your new baby, you may not necessarily look like Kate Middleton
Ok, to be fair, I should have worked this one out for myself. After all, Kate Middleton was never going to rock up to the steps of the Lindo Wing in her Primark joggers and with 3-day unwashed hair. But the image of her emerging from hospital in that floaty blue dress after the birth of Prince George, looking so well-groomed and, well, perfect, gave me hope. People, it was false hope.
I did not feel like Kate Middleton as I hobbled out of the hospital that drizzly November evening, wearing navy jogging bottoms, a burgundy smock top and black ballet pumps. (No, I still don’t believe that I ventured out in public in that state either….). The only saving grace was that I gave birth in November and got discharged from hospital after dark.
4. It’s best to expect (or at least think about) the unexpected
I had a very straightforward pregnancy and barely considered that there’d be any kind of complications once I went into labour, let alone that I’d have a 44 hour stint of contractions before being whisked off for an emergency c-section under general anaesthetic. I’m not saying that the whole thing would have been a doddle if I’d been a bit more open minded about what might happen during labour, but I seriously believe that if I had at least contemplated the possibility that I may not get that precious moment of witnessing my first baby make her entrance into the world, I may have found the whole ordeal a little less traumatic.
5. Your life will never be the same again and you won’t care
I knew that having a baby and being responsible for a new little human would be a massive change. What I wasn’t sure about was whether I’d miss my pre-baby life. I was 36 when I had Little B, and my husband and I were used to having our freedom, popping out for dinner and drinks on a whim, enjoying lots of trips overseas and spending lazy weekend afternoons reading, watching films, or just snoozing on the settee. I have fond memories of my life pre-baby, but do I miss it? No. Every moment I spend with Little B is an absolute gift. Yes, a spontaneous night out would be nice, as would a lazy week on a beach, but it wouldn’t come close to the joy and love I feel as I watch Little B grow.
Would I want my old life back, even for a day? No chance. Not even for a permanent size 8 figure and all the Kitkats in the world.