Monday 27 February 2012

An Old Timer's Guide for First Timers

You can spot the first time yummy mummies to be at a glance.  Or at least I can.  They are perfectly manicured and accessorised from glorious hair do right down to their very fashionable, albeit unsuitable, footwear.  They are still refreshingly touchy feely with their partners and point out the cute and amusing things they’ve spotted in the mother and baby magazine they’re reading.  We veterans, on the other hand, are equally as recognisable.  Imperfectly groomed, hair scraped back into a pony tail, sensible and scuffed footwear.  Our attire is hastily thrown together and most likely the closest item to hand that morning, even if it did come off the top of the laundry pile.  But the biggest give-away?  If, and it’s a big if, our partners are with us at this ante-natal appointment, we are sat apart.  Both of us involved in our separate pastime.  She is most likely writing a shopping list and he is reading a paper.  When I was pregnant with Screecher Creature No. 1, I think Mister Husband came with me when I peed into the bottle for that first dipstick test at the GP’s.  He was present and correct for every single ante-natal appointment.  Ironically enough, he was sent home when I was induced as “nothing was happening” but then “something” definitely began to happen and all of a sudden I was 7cm delighted and he was 40 minutes away.  I was terrified he wouldn’t make it for the birth but, in true rom-com movie fashion of course he did and we all lived happily ever after.  But with my other three pregnancies, I attended all ante-natal appointments solo, by mutual agreement.  Been there, done that, wore the t-shirt.  If, on the huge off chance that you are a man reading this, and she asks what you can do for her when she is carrying your baby, take note.  A lie in will get you massive brownie points.  Especially if you already have children.  If you do, please, please feed and dress these children while she is sleeping.  Rinse off whatever is in the sink and wipe down the counter tops. There is no point having a lie in if there is work waiting to be done when she gets up.  Oh, and make her a cuppa when she wakes.  If she wants to sleep in the spare room every once in a while, let her!  It doesn’t mean your relationship is on the rocks and it is the beginning of the end.  Although it very well could be if she doesn’t get a decent night’s sleep without being pressed up against another hot and sweaty body.  Yes, yours.  And no, not in a good way.  If that pillow she could not live without for the duration of her pregnancy, the one she used to raise her heavy and uncomfortable swollen belly off the bed, is still in the bed long after the baby is born, whisht!  Let her have it!  Seriously, it’s small fry.  Don’t comment, for the love of God; don’t pass any remarks on the huge amount of chocolate she can put away.  She is pregnant, she feels she is fat so she may as well, she knows how she looks, asking her does she really need that extra piece of chocolate could get you killed.  Think death by pregnancy hormonal rage.  Estimated Due Date is near.  Inform yourself of the whereabouts of the hospital bags.  Make sure there is fuel in your car.  Do you know the way to the hospital?  The proper way and not a short cut?  Discuss with her beforehand what she would like to do with regard to visitors.  Does she want excited family members outside eagerly waiting for “a hold” as soon as she pops, or would she prefer visitors to wait until she is back home.  Major, major life changing event for both of you here.  Absorb every moment of it together first before inviting an audience!  Finally.  You thought it would never get here but D Day has arrived!  Hold her hand.  Don’t hold her hand.  Basically, if she asks you to stand on your head in the corner, juggle two ten pin bowling balls and read the golden pages from back to front, don’t ask questions, just do it! Do whatever it is she asks.  Allow her to birth in her own fashion.  Tell her she is doing great, give her space, be there but not with a look of horror on your face.  Leave the squeamish outside the door.  This is new life we’re talking about here.  Your baby’s life.  It will never get any better than this.  And now you’re home.  The baby is home.  But she is not.  In her place is Mother Tiger.  She was always there, this fearsome feline, just hidden under her old persona.  Repeat all of the above Before New Baby steps and give her a lie in.  If she wants to sleep in the spare room with the baby, in the bed beside her, support her.  Make her endless cups of tea.  Mother the mother.  Restrict those visitors.  Believe me, they will be more welcome a month or two down the line when things settle.  Tell her she is great, give her space. Allow her to mother the baby in her own fashion.  This new life we’re talking about here, is your family’s life and it doesn’t get much better than this. Be supportive.  And if you are reading this and someone you know is about to give birth or has given birth, by all means visit but don’t outstay your welcome.  Don’t expect to be entertained.  Make the new parents a sandwich and a cuppa.  Bring a present for them and not the baby.  Glossy magazines are a nice bit of escapism for her and maybe a DVD box set that they can both watch together.  This only works if it’s a first baby though.  (Mister Husband always complained he never got a present and when pushed he admitted whiskey would have gone down very well, thank you!)   Ready to heat up meals will always be welcome.  In disposable containers.  Take their wash basket with you when you’re leaving.  Freshly laundered, fragrant smelling clobber is a fantastic present.  No parent will refuse an offer of a babysitter. It might not be accepted immediately, possibly sometime in the coming 12 months, but keep offering.  Even if it’s taken up just so she can have a decent nap herself in the middle of the afternoon.  Anyone can buy a bundle of nappies and a box of wipes.  A hamper is a lovely gesture.  Babygros’ keep the baby warm and cute outfits are perfect for photos.  But the best present of all is to maybe offer an ear every now and again.  Company at the kitchen table is the icing on the cake even if you utter less than 100 words.   This woman has the most gorgeous baby in the whole world, tell her that.  Tell her she is doing great.  Keep telling her that.  In general women are fantastic to each other, especially when there is a little baby in the picture.  What goes around comes around and no-one forgets a good deed.                    

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