Do you ever feel like you’re in the middle of a baby explosion? Like every time you turn on your computer there’s another pregnancy or birth announcement from a friend?
It’s a warm, cosy, cockle-warming place to be. There is nothing more lovely than when people you love and care about have good news to share.
I have to enforce strict limits on myself when it comes to gift giving for newborns. Those teeny tiny little clothes are a little too adorable, and I could easily spend my entire monthly budget in Jojo Maman Bebe. But I also love passing on clothes and blankets that were DorkySon’s when he was wee. Just before we moved house we gave his old Moses Basket to an old university friend who was pregnant, and every time I see photos of the gorgeous baby girl who now sleeps in it, it makes me smile. You sort of hope that in passing on a pre-lived-in item; you pass on a little motherly love and reassurance too.
There is a lot left unsaid between mothers. A lot of unspoken respect. Gosh yes, we all judge each other. We think everyone else is doing it all wrong. But we also share something fairly profound. There is a bond. We have grown a baby inside us, we have given birth, we have paced the room at 3am wondering what to do with the tiny crying thing…
The new mums I know – pale, exhausted, shell-shocked – have all asked, ‘Why does no-one tell you how hard it’s going to be?’ Well, it’s because you can’t really explain how hard it might be to begin with. Nothing is as life shattering and as world changing as the birth of your first child. It’s indescribable in a million good ways, and indescribable in one or two not-so-good ways too.
The pregnant friends, very sensibly, aren’t thinking that far ahead yet. They’re focusing on eating the right things, exercising the right way, scans, birth plans, vitamin supplements, choosing the right pram, choosing the right name… just as they should be.
I was the first person in all my various social circles to settle down and start a family, and although I now have lots of new friends who I’ve met through being a parent, I’ll confess that a little bit of me is thrilled that I’m now being joined in Mumness by some of the old crew too. I’m trying hard to be there and be supportive when they have questions, but not send any advice in their direction when it isn’t asked for. There are more than enough other people out there being pushy.
There’s only problem with the baby explosion. It’s making me a bit, erm, broody.
I thought I’d got over that. I love having a toddler. I love living with someone who makes me laugh, who sleeps for 10 hours at a time, and who can tell me when he’s hungry or he needs a pee. I love that we read proper books together now instead of just cloth ones with squiggly lines in, and that he uses phrases like ‘For goodness’ sake Mummy’ instead of just grunting and snorting and bawling at me. DorkySon is now big enough that he is a mostly functioning person, but he’s also still small enough to be cute. It’s kind of perfect. It’s certainly a lot more fun than I found the first nine months or so of motherhood.
But then I look at all those gorgeous friends of mine and their perfect bumps. I see their photos of smushy-faced teeny tiny newborns. I listen to them getting all giddy about their baby’s first smile or first giggle. I crack up laughing when I’m out for lunch with them and a spoonful of pureed blueberry goes flying over my head. Does all that make the sleepless nights and the wrecked body and giving up stinky cheese and wine for nine months worth it again?
I ask myself that. DorkyDad and I ask ourselves that. And we don’t know.
We just don’t know.