I’m talking ‘babies’ of course…and deciding to have one is possibly one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
Watching my toddler strut around with a miniature nappy-bag hooked over her Cinderella stroller telling me she’s got a “baby in her tummy” as she shoves poor old Big Ted under her shirt – well – there’s really no denying, the road to motherhood begins well and truly before we’re even out of nappies.
But when are we actually ‘grown up’ enough to have our own real, living, breathing doll?
Usually ‘circumstances’ will dictate when it’s time to swap the high heels and handbag for flats and a nappy bag.
For me, it was a case of meeting the right person and then at the age of 38, being lucky enough to fall pregnant.
Before my little blondie arrived, there were many times I naively thought I was ready for motherhood.
My own doll-faced cherub to smother with kisses all day long.
Looking back, I wasn’t emotionally ready in any sense of the word, let alone in a relationship remotely stable enough to handle the complexities of parenthood.
Before bringing a baby into the world, it helps to be in a stable and caring environment, so you and your partner are as ready as possible.
Once you’re pregnant, nine months can seem like an eternity! Your body feels like it’s been hijacked as your hormones wreak havoc and your belly expands at a rapid pace.
By week 30 your feet resemble bloated sausages and you’re working your ‘waddle’ like nobody’s business.
You inhale anxiously as you watch each scan, grinning from ear to ear when you hear baby’s heartbeat – but comprehending mini-me is (gulp) coming out, it’s all a bit surreal.
If you’re a planner like me, read all the books you can, but expect a hefty dose of information overload!
If you’d rather fly by the seat of your pants, don’t fret – because you WILL work it out, one way or another.
The only two things you can be completely sure of – no two babies are the same and nothing stays the same!
So while all the well-meaning advice in the world won’t shield you from the intricacies of being a first-time mum, it usually gets easier.
You can do things ahead of time to ease the bombshell of a newborn, like bullet-proofing your budget.
For some, the costs start before conception, then the obstetrician visits and something couples often get caught out with hospital fees.
And let’s not forget baby’s wardrobe and all the other paraphernalia the little tyke needs.
Reports suggest the average middle-income family will spend roughly US$12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life.
Be financially ready: 41% of new parents admit they were not as financially prepared as they thought.
So budget in check, your precious angel makes his debut. You’re tucked up in hospital, running on pure adrenalin, a bubble of babies, breast-pads and hospital buzzers. Just as suddenly, the bubble bursts and you’re home with a small person who’s making his mark on your territory. Around.The.Clock.
In those early days, you’ll be doing well to have a shower, clean your teeth and grab a coffee all in the same day – Scratch that, it’ll be years before you drink a full, hot cup of coffee!
Expect tears and not just from baby. At times, you’ll wonder how you got yourself into this mess, and how to get yourself out of it.
(Refer back to my earlier point – nothing stays the same.)
Being a new mother is all-consuming. It’s quite normal to feel intense highs and lows (in the same hour). Go easy on yourself.
A couple of months in, sleep deprivation really kicks in and you can bet your relationship will be feeling the heat (outside of the doona)!
Whoever took the last drop of milk or forgot it was their turn to put the doona back on – is potentially looking down the barrel at World War Three!
Try to maintain a sense of humor. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, conquering ‘baby-dom’ won’t happen overnight.
Nurture your relationship. Even if it’s impossible to get out on a date and the idea of connecting at a more intimate level is too daunting for words… talk.
If you choose to stay home, stepping into the role of full-time mum can lead to feelings of isolation, lack of self-esteem and even boredom. (There are only so many play-dough pussycats one can make.)
Make time for sanity breaks with friends. These can be your key to survival.
If you’re returning to work, make sure you’ve got child-care covered to ease the stress.
Whichever path you choose, don’t feel guilty – this is your life, your baby.
It’s the most intense love you’ll ever feel and you’ll be ‘wearing your heart on the outside of your body for the rest of your days…..’
That’s motherhood…..ready or not.