Although people keep trying heavily. Being pregnant, for me, meant nine months of avoiding other people’s well intended advice. There’s something incredibly stressful about all these tips and knowledge and I decided to start learning baby stuff right àfter my daughter would enter this world. It turned out to be quiet an adventure, filled with weird new activities (I developed an obsession with mixing stuff during my maternity leave and discovered that mixing nuts while your baby is finally sleeping is the single most satisfying thing in the world), but the biggest surprise was the endless stream of peculiar thoughts I had. Take a dive into my mom head and discover what new mothers really think…
“Wait a minute, does she have eyeballs?!?!”
It’s well past your bedtime and you have just casually given birth to a little baby girl. Everybody around you is cooing and oohing, telling you what a beautiful little miracle she is, your husband stares at you with teary eyes and the doctor confirms that “all vital organs work well”. Nobody seems to notice though, that you are the only one who does NOT see this little wonder, as she is propped against your breasts and the only view you have of her is the slimy top of her head. For all you know, she might as well miss a toe, have a tattoo or even a beard. And then suddenly, this awful thought hits you: what if she has no eyeballs???? For nine months every echo, every assessment has focused on her heart, lungs, kidneys, etc, but no one ever thought of checking the presence of eyeballs behind those closed little eyelids. ALERT! (Also, I would pay a million euro just to see the doctor’s expression again right after I asked him this question…)
“Snap snap snap. Snap!”
Funny thing is that from the moment you give birth, people start treating you like a hormonal time bomb that may explode any minute and your only daily activity would consist of snapping at your husband, in-laws, medical team and other helpless victims. It’s true that thing tend to get a little snappy, but not in the social sense of the word: your life will suddenly be overcome by… snap buttons! On pyjamas, sleeping bags, bibs, toilet bag, even toys: those snappy bastards are EVERYWHERE and it demands highly trained buttoning skills to control them. Not only is it freaking hard not to let them slip between your clumsy fingers, the risk of squeezing a little inch of fragile baby skin in between them is real. Scariest thing on the world.
“Go away, I hate you, you’re awful, this is all your fault!! No wait, come back!!!!” -all whispered-
The lack of sleep, irrational fears about eyeballs and snap buttons, the hormonal circus and that feeling of helplessness when you don’t succeed in parking nine centimeters of baby leg into 8,5 centimeter of pyjama leg: sometimes anger just gets the better of you and you seek out a fight with the only person who loves you so much you know he will accept anything: the love of your life. Humongous fights, a lot of blaming, but NO slamming doors. After all, baby just fell asleep after hours of crying and you do not want to wake her up. Fighting without decibels it is, hot-blooded whispering and the use of your eyebrows as explanation marks: that’s how it goes with a baby in the house!
By the way, give it a few weeks and you’ll be as soundless as a guerilla fighter, you’ll know all the techniques to approach the crib, climb the stairs and cook without making a sound. Tip: parquet doesn’t make that cracking noice when you stay close to the walls –and that’s why you and your partner will start moving through the house like lizards after a while.
“Snif snif. Snif?!?!”
Of course you were warned for a lifetime –or at least five years- of really nasty smells, but you never thought you would fetch up your kid from daycare after a long day at work, feeling as if you just retrieved a döner kebab from the local croquette dispenser (a very common, very awesome way of getting fast food in Belgium and The Netherlands). The daycare, so it seems, uses a weird, antibacterial soap that smells of hefty eastern spices. And thus your midget brings home this flavor of roasted sheep eyes –here come the eyeballs again- in tajine. After one nap her entire rooms smells like it and your man casually asks if you had Lebanese for lunch after a kiss in your neck. You’ll get used to it.
“She has a very severe viral infection and has to be treated ASAP by a trauma surgeon/professor/expert/wizard!”
And then the pediatrician on call, the one whose nice family diner you disrupted by hysterically shoving your baby on the table right next to the potatoes, calmly diagnoses: “she has a pimple.”
“You are a dead man/woman!”
Blame it on your maternal instinct to protect the little one, a hormonal imbalance or the lack of sleep, but you start feeling extremely aggressive towards the people around you. The love of your life, your mother (in law), the idiot who dares to make a remark about how you look, an even more stupid idiot who blames you for “not allowing your man some free time”, the pediatrician-wizard who pins a needle in your screaming flesh and bloods tender buttock for the first time, a passer-by who walks too slowly in front of your stroller, the pharmacist who takes too much time to find the right milk in the shelves and sometimes even your own reflexion: you mentally make a Kill List that would make Arya Stark’s pale by comparison. Woops.
“Would anyone notice there is vomit on my shoulder?”
Because you already changed three times today, and a woman can only own so many shirts…
“I’m so sorry…”
Every (new) mom makes mistakes, it is inevitable. Outsiders will all console you and tell you everybody has to make them in order to learn, and that the baby really doesn’t suffer that much, but you are constantly haunted by feelings of guilt that crush your conscience to pieces –like a giant Guiltzilla smashing a little police car. Bam! I’m sorry I put on your pyjamas the wrong way around, I’m sorry your milk is cold, I’m sorry I just mentally (but only mentally!!) called you an ass (I’m sorry, sorry, sorry!!!), I’m sorry I did not hear you cry, I’m sorry I dozed off for a minute, I’m sorry I went out last night, I’m sorry I have a hangover, I’m sorry I don’t understand why you are crying, I’m sorry my singing voice sounds more like a grumbling troll than a soothing mermaid. Long story short: my sincerest apologies!
“Is she breathing?”
The almighty thought that takes absolute control over your brain, the one that pops up 360,000 times a day: baby finally fell asleep peacefully and suddenly it deems to you that she looks TOO peaceful. What follows is you frantically shoving a finger under her nose to check if there is any hint of moving air, which of course will wake her up and send her into a fierce baby tantrum again. Sigh. Keep breathing. Because she does.
“Ow god, I’m afraid to go in”
Funny thing, this daycare thing: although you are the adult (and a kick-as mother) here, every time you are confronted with the severe looking matrone at the entrance, you’re suddenly seven years old again, afraid of getting scolded by your teacher. She has already given you bad points for bringing the wrong nappy size, forgetting your milk powder and failed to mention it was Granny and not you who was going to pick baby up last night, and now you just don’t want to go in and see how she will react to you being late by five minutes. Please God, don’t let her snap and use her eyebrows as explanation marks at me. Please please, pretty please…