So pals, I’ve had this wonderful idea to do something for my non-medical friends about what medical school entails. I think there’s this preconception that in order to be a doctor you have to be the smartest cookie that ever existed and spend all your time walking round muttering the names of various bones under your breath (Hey guys! The leg bone’s connected to the…. BODY BONE!), but that’s pretty much untrue. So here I am, several glasses of wine to the good, and I’ve come up with this marvellous concept where I’m going to bang on about medical school to non-healthcare folk. It’ll be EXTREMELY exciting, so bear with me.

I’m not saying that to be a doctor or other healthcare professional you don’t have to be strong academically. There are a metric fuck-tonne of exams to be passed, not only at university but annoyingly for probably the next five or six years of your career after qualification. Exams that I will inevitably pay hundreds of pounds to sit FOR THE PURE PLEASURE OF DOING SO, and because I will not be able to advance to the next stage of my career without being able to prove that I’ve passed them. Being good at exams and pencil-wielding under duress is obviously important, not just for the written ones but also for the practical ones, called OSCEs, that involve lots of flashing lights and actors and are tremendously exciting if you like that sort of thing, and heart-arrestingly tense if you don’t (I adore them and all their bleeping sounds and drama, but alas I am one of those unfortunate people who only really shines when everything else is falling down around their ears). There are so, so many things to remember along the way that of course a  good memory is essential, but one of the big reasons that the grade requirements are so high to get onto a medical course is because the demand itself is also high, and this helps to pare down the applicants a bit. Once you’re there however, just being a clever sausage will not see you through, because you realise that actually, healthcare is mostly about communicating, the mystery of diagnosis and the selection of appropriate treatment and less about (to me) boring things like SCIENCE and ELECTRONS and STUFF ON THINGS (I’m not really a traditional academic, I wonder if this comes across at all).

So I propose a small series of posts, where I bang on about some of the things we learn at medical school and why it’s important; how sometimes being a doctor is like being a kick-ass Miss Marple, and how sometimes it is quietly mundane, and people say ‘STAT’ on disappointingly few occasions. I can’t promise that I won’t devise a whole post on whether scrubs are nearly always blue because this is the most universally flattering colour but I do want to talk a bit about what it’s really like to train to be a doctor in an age where we often seek medical advice from the internet before we’d think of setting foot in a surgery. This could be a great idea, equally it could be terrible, but I’m sure you’ll let me know either way.

I read a piece recently, written by someone who must have lots of money and is trying to come up with ever more creative ways to spend it, about baby-proofing your home. Well, not even doing it yourself, but paying some clever arse who is great at inventing unnecessary job titles to do it for you. If anyone wants to pay me several hundred pounds, I’ll be round there like a shot to point out the obvious, saying words like ‘scale down your knife collection’ and ‘minimise access to power tools’.

It made me think how much I hate that whole concept, as if by sticking enough plastic corners to all your lovely furniture you can completely eliminate the risk of your child getting hurt. I don’t want to cover my house in all this crap, or have locks on all the cupboards and I’m all in favour of a little bit of risk-embracing in life. In this spirit I’m going to tell you about the ways in which I have already inadvertently damaged my baby and we’ve all lived to tell the tale.

Nails

Those little scratch mitts won’t last forever and you can’t keep ignoring the fact that your baby has started to sport nails rivalling those of Gail Devers in the Atlanta Olympics. Or Flo Jo, for the older readers. Cutting those nails is a right ball-ache, being as they are miniscule and moving at the speed of light, but it’s got to be done, so man up and get it sorted, yeah? The first time I did this, I came tantalisingly close to causing no damage at all, but obviously got over-confident after Nail Nine and pinched a bit of skin off with the clippers on the final one. It didn’t bleed but OH MY GOD I FELT DREADFUL. To give you an insight, my baby cried for twenty seconds and was then fine again; I cried on and off for the next nine hours, at one point driving off wailing “You’ll be better off without me, I can only do harm here”.

Cheese

One day you’ll be sat there cuddling your baby, taking in those intoxicating aromas of off-milk and milky poo, and you’ll think to yourself, ‘Christ, this smells really bad’. There will be a new, worse-than-ever smell, and it’ll be coming from this little bundle of lusciousness because YOU’RE A BAD PERSON WHO HASN’T WASHED THEIR BABY PROPERLY. Your child will be secreting a minging cheese paste, probably within the folds of their fatty little neck. When you find it, all yellow and disgusting and wipe it off with your finger, gagging and grimacing throughout, it might even be sore underneath because of all the neglect and that. Bung on some Sudocrem and resolve to do better next time.

Head

‘Golly, I’m so efficient! Look at me carrying my baby in a harness AND doing the hoovering! I’ll put that shopping away now, that’ll be fun for her to look at’. These were my thoughts five seconds before I opened the fridge door into my baby’s head. To give her credit, she only made a brief ‘Rargh!’ sound (think goats on youtube), but I felt absolutely terrible and once again considered phoning Social Services to report myself. It’s okay though, once you tell people this, everyone has a story about how they’ve accidentally wanged their child into a wall or some such. My favourite comes from a friend who was showing someone how he put his daughter into one of those harnesses. With a breezy “…and so, you just slot her in like that!”, he pushed her in from one side, failing to notice that the other side wasn’t shut, essentially posting her through and frantically grappling to catch her before she landed on the floor. Which he did, for those who enjoy a happy ending.

So there we go. There’ll be more obviously, since one of the first things my husband said about her was “Man, I can’t wait to teach her how to spin fire!”; not to mention the untold psychological damage inflicted by parents with a questionable music collection and a fondness for practical jokes. I just thought I’d tell my mates who are doing babies that it’s both okay and inevitable if you ruin them just a tiny little bit, it’s life innit.

P.S. Please don’t give me any tips on how to cut nails etc, or advising me to bite them for her instead, I think that’s rank. Kind Regards xxx

Hello. I’ve fallen back in love with exercise. I’ve sorely missed it over the past year and right at this moment I’m dizzily high on my own endorphins, admiring my own quads and polishing my kettlebell until it gleams. I’m feeling stronger than I have in ages, feeling a little bit spiffy in my clothes and no longer having to do ‘resigned face’ when I look in the mirror. This isn’t really because I’ve lost loads of weight (well, it’s a little bit about being slimmer than I was, I just wanted to sound like a really well-adjusted person incapable of vanity). I like not bulging out of my clothes and putting undue strain on the elastic in my knickers, but more than that I’ve got back on the bandwagon of lycra-clad pain because I want to be super strong and glossily, enviously healthy. In the words of my wonderful Twitter friend Lizzie, I’d like to be able to ‘bench press a sofa’ and live to be 130.

My fondness for exercise is a fairly recent concept in the grand old timeline of my life. We walked a lot as a family and always played outside, but the idea of organised sport always left me cold. With that terrible all-or-nothing part of my personality that I have tried to tame over the years, I thought that if you couldn’t be olympically wonderful at a thing, there wasn’t any point. My parents had both set some pretty amazing precedents in that arena, so I figured that since there was no likelihood of me representing my county or my country at anything, there wasn’t any point. Added to which, it seems a common theme among many of my friends that we detested PE at school. Like, physically loathed it and all it represented. It will paint a very accurate picture of me if I tell you that my three favourite sporting moments at school were an interpretative dance class where we did a robot routine to Axel F; a lone aerobics class in sixth form where I got to grapevine to the Prodigy; and a game my friend Selina and I made up called ‘colonial tennis’. It involved a lot of shouting and gesturing and very little hitting. My sporting life, people.

When I went away to uni, I put on the eminently predictable two stone that came hand in hand with drinking every day and subsisting entirely on carbs and fat. It sort of crept on and I didn’t notice until I sort of stopped one day and looked into my cruel mirror and realised I had become pudgy. Sort of sluggish looking and a bit grey. I did that dreadful and very British thing for a while of wearing the size of clothes you wish you were rather than the size you actually are, and looked way more horrendous than I would have done in jeans say, two or three sizes bigger. My friend Anna and I embarked on my first ever diet. Well, it was more than a diet, it was a colour-coded series of lists and checkboxes designed to revolutionise our whole life. Foolproof.

I tried a few things exercise-wise until I finally joined a gym, a place I thought was for saddos and people with body hang-ups. Despite fitting neatly into both these categories (I unsurprisingly went through a hazy, not-sure-if-it’s-finished yet period of complete body dysmorphia in my early twenties and took most of my anger and fear out on the way I looked or thought I did. Ugh. Getting older’s good isn’t it?) I found I really enjoyed myself. Something clicked and I found what I liked – it wasn’t competitive sport, it was exercising ALL BY MYSELF.

I’m a horribly competitive person. Losing at Scrabble or cards makes me a bit sad, but in terms of physical stuff I hate competing with other people (unless of course, they don’t know I am doing it, in which case it’s wonderful and YAY I WIN I WIN I WIN). Maybe I don’t have much confidence in my own abilities, or maybe I’m just scared to see how many people on a netball team would die if I really got going but it doesn’t float my boat. Running, however, or going to the gym, or swearing at workout dvds in my lounge, that’s totally my bag. Beating the crap out of a punchbag, doing some really good press-ups or sprinting until I do a little bit of metallic-tasting spitty sick; that’s when I feel all alive and super. And now it feels important, because although it was only about six or seven years ago that I didn’t want to exist at all, now I want to be here forever. To qualify that, I’d really like to be here, in as good nick and as sane as possible, for a very long time. That’s a nice ambition, isn’t it? On my count, let’s all do squats.

 

So I’m 14 weeks in to this baby business and these are my observations at this point, given that (boobs aside) I’m feeling Pretty Normal (subject to change). Thanks to some Twitter lovelies getting in touch, I am now writing these thoughts down with some specific people in mind, but I would like at this point to issue some sort of ‘don’t sue me’ disclaimer. I love you all dearly so let’s not end this with legal wrangling (unless it ends in some sort of monster payout for me, I’d really like that sexy Tom Ford perfume, a cute little kilt and a blowout in Paperchase if that’s okay).

Sex

I’m not about to go into detail here as I’d quite like to stay married, especially now I’ve got a baby and more laundry and that; but I would like to reassure you that it all feels quite normal and no-one will cry. Obviously, you’re feeling quite cautious, and you have to be careful not to be too put off by the whole ‘oh dear god, what if we accidentally made another one, that would be dreadful’ thing. It’s easy to build up the fear but it’s best to just crack on, get back in the saddle and any other horrific euphemisms you can think of. The one weird thing is that your boobs are kind of out of your repertoire. Instead of being part of the natural progression of things, you both studiously ignore them and try to pretend that they don’t exist. I’m not sure when they come back into play, as it were, but I’m guessing when you’ve finished feeding your baby and all fear of accidental-milk-in-adult-mouth has passed. Aside from which, sensitivity is minimal. Once you’ve fed a baby for eight hours in a single day (YEAH I KNOW, THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED), someone else coming along and getting in on that action isn’t going to register very highly on the titillation scale. TITillation. Ahahahahahaha.

Exercise

If you’ve been doing your pelvic floor exercises like I shouted at you about before, this should all be okay. Now I’m not telling you to do it, there’s no right time, do what you want etc etc etc, but for me, I needed to get back out there and move again. Not only is it some welcome time on my own, but it makes me feel good about myself in a way that isn’t entirely about fitting into my jeans. Sanity not vanity, and all that (although honestly compels me to tell you it is at least 40% about vanity). If you’re breastfeeding you will still have plenty of relaxin in your system making your joints vulnerable so take it easy. As a committed all-or-nothing exerciser, this was the hardest thing for me to do, but starting slowly and building up my resistance gradually might just have been the most sensible, mum-type thing I’ve yet achieved. Hoorah for moderation, eh?

Sleep

Get used to answering a lot of questions and being stopped by people in the street. These people will want to know how old your baby is, how much it weighed, does it sleep, is it good. It’s quite nice in a way, but I imagine could be quite irritating as well, so have some stock responses to hand. People equate ‘sleeping’ in babies with ‘behaving’, and will judge you on this accordingly. Now (don’t hate me, please don’t hate me), but I am blessed with a sleep-through-the-night type baby. YES, YES, I’M VERY ANNOYING. It is however important to note that this is absolutely nothing to do with me, it’s the luck of the draw, so try not to let it get to you and tell everyone to piss off with their advice and well-meaning chiding when they think you’re doing it wrong. If you’re having a horrible time and not sleeping, eat WELL and LOTS and take any offer of help that comes your way. Should these offers not be forthcoming, invite a friend or family member over and simply pull their hair and kick their shins until they agree to clean your bathroom and cook you a roast.

Bums

It has been brought to my attention that last time I forgot to mention bums. Not of the baby variety, but yours. After birth you will develop acute Fear Of Pooing, which won’t be made any easier if you were one of the brave, wounded souls who endured tears, stitching or an episiotomy. If you are slightly anaemic after birth (and this is fairly common) many places will dish out iron tablets, which are lovely and free but in my experience cause crazy new levels of constipation. Instead, many chemists stock a liquid iron supplement which you add to juice – it’s about eight quid but worth it in order to make sure The Poo Of Destiny is as free-flowing as possible. With this in mind, you’ll also want to be chaining the veg and other fibre sources at this time. You’ll be completely exhausted and your body is a war zone, so eat well to get better and keep your digestive system in good order. I’m not saying you’ll be on a health kick – you will need everything you can cram in your tired, bloated little face. I have tried to forget but distinctly remember those first weeks only sleeping for forty minutes at a time – I managed to stay vertical when I needed to by eating lots of good hearty stuff plus at least three boxes of chocolates a day (thank you for my presents!) in addition to iron and vitamin supplements OH AND LOTS OF CRYING.

Stuff

You won’t need as much stuff for this baby as you think you will. You won’t need as much stuff as everyone else thinks you should have. To save money / stop your house looking like something we’d all gawp at on a ‘sensitive’ look-at-these-hoarding-weirdos type documentary, get the basics and leave everything else until you actually need it. If you have a car seat to bring them home in, something for them to sleep in, some clothes and some nappies YOU’LL BE FINE and YOUR BABY WILL BE FINE, because all they really want is you, to be fed, to be warm and to feel safe. And your boobs in front of their face at every given opportunity. They’re only human.

A couple of weeks ago I went and met a whole load of people off the internet in a pub in Birmingham. I was initially wary because (and this is a story for another time) I’ve had some odd experiences with meeting internet folk and also because it was going to be a gang of medics and I’m very, um, un-medic-y. AND BAD WITH WORDS.

Do you know what though? I had a lovely time, confirmed that the people I thought were brilliant WERE indeed wonderful – people say you shouldn’t make snap judgments but I happen to be very good at them – and made some new friends along the way. All in all, a very good day and night during which I managed not to tell too many rude stories or let on that I can be a bit of a cow.

What was extra special for me was that I didn’t really have to explain myself. Because I had a little mental a year ago and decided to put my back-story on the internet, most of the people there understood my path into medicine and not having to come up with an unwieldy sentence for my mature student status every time I introduced myself to someone was a huge relief. What do you say? It’s something I get asked about on a daily basis on my course; in every new study group, in every clinic, on every ward (“What do you mean ‘I’m obviously a bit older’?!”, I say and then run to the mirror, crying). I am yet to come up with a handy set-piece which manages to convey that I didn’t just have some epiphany about wanting to be a doctor in my late twenties, that I didn’t go to uni at eighteen and find the studying a bit difficult, which is what most people assume when I say that I had a hard time first time around. Personally I’d find it easier to just tell the truth, but then this tends to make the person asking feel terrible and also seems ‘a bit much’ either when you’ve only just shaken hands in a bar or are looking at an x-ray together for the first time. So, answers on a postcard if you think you can crack it. (Seriously, I love postcards, DM for address etc)

This got me thinking about how glad I was to have got that little story off my chest a whole year ago now, how kind everyone had been about it, and how accepting most people are. I’ve had a really great year. When I wrote that story I was still reeling from a miscarriage and had honestly reached the point where I just didn’t think I was ever going to get pregnant again or that I’d have a successful pregnancy if I did. Looking at the date I’d posted it though, I must actually have been tinily, tentatively, itsy-bitsily pregnant, which perhaps explains the tidal wave of hormones that led me to sit down and type-cry my life to a bunch of strangers. At this very moment, my fat little rosebud of a baby sits next to me, laughing at a cushion and bashing my thighs with her spitty fist. In addition to this wondrousness, I’d had a good year at medical school where I’d actually made friends and, thanks to doing two days a week in hospital, got a bit of validation that I’d made the right choice in returning.

This validation is important to me because, in truth, I am a terrible medical student. My friends are almost entirely non-medics, I don’t spend any of the time when I’m not studying thinking about the subject, and my life outside of medicine is, and I suspect always will be, bigger than either the course or my job when I get there. It’s easy to feel quite guilty about this, like I’m not really ‘proper doctor material’. While I think the human body and the things that happen inside us are beautiful and miraculous, I’ll admit that I only learn about neuroanatomy or the bloody renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system because I have to; rather than just for the sheer love of the science behind it. I like people, I think I’m good at listening to people, being observant, playing ‘symptoms detective’ and communicating in a way that is useful and, where possible, makes them feel good. That is my pitiful skill set and I really hope it’s enough, especially as I already have moderate fear about returning to my course in September. My friends will all be a year ahead of me by then, and I’ll be with people another year younger. I’m not intrinsically ageist, and I hope I’ll meet some more great people but there’s something a little bit odd for me in being surrounded entirely by people born in the year I started getting off with boys and surreptitiously swigging Malibu at sleepovers. So, if I start to visibly wobble a bit when I return, I hope you’ll all shout at me IN CAPITALS to crack on with it and not get weighed down by what people might think of the haggard old crone in the corner. I think I’ll be quite good at it if I can just get there.

(This is a very odd PS. I’ve seen in various forums people referring a girl to my blog who has had a similarly shit time and is asking people for advice on re-applying to medical school. IF YOU WANT TO, WILL YOU CONTACT ME SO WE CAN TALK? I promise not to compare your story to mine or to offer advice, but I will listen, I will provide the facts that I know to be true in terms of re-applying as a failed student, and if you want I’ll try and help you with the process of doing so xxx)

I love Twitter, you know this. Admittedly sometimes I want to block half my timeline, but that’s mostly hormone-related or I need to just step away and eat half a pound of licorice comfits or punch a bookcase or something. It’s a happy place for me, a world of banging on about unimportant things, sharing pictures of badly photoshopped animals and creating unnecessary hashtags. Only now I’m finding it genuinely difficult, I’ve become crippled by the fear that I’m just going to be a massive mum-nause, and it’s sort of hard to chat on about things and participate in general conversations when you’ve heard NO NEWS and watched NONE OF THE PROGRAMMES. Over the last twelve weeks, I’ve mostly been alerted to world news by snatching covert peeks at Twitter, which gives me a bit of a skewed view. I trust nothing else has happened bar the cis/trans thing and appalling weather conditions, yeah?

It’s a very odd state of affairs when you could talk about your breasts pretty much all day long. I mean, I am breast-obsessed. I have mammenui. From waking up with them too full and spraying all over the place like a garden hose you’ve lost a grip on to offering them to close friends/relations saying plaintively, “But which would YOU say is the fullest?”, they’re kind of on my mind as much as they’re on my ribcage. If you think I’ve been talking about them and babies and that a lot, you have no idea how much I’ve reined it in. I delete so many tit-tweets before I’ve posted them it’s untrue, and that feeling of censoring myself on a social networking site feels pretty weird, I’ve never really done that before. Admittedly I will delete stuff that I decide doesn’t really sound like me, and I’ll never post a photo where I look hideous, leaving you with the decidedly inaccurate impression that I’m at least 15% more attractive than I actually am.

So, I’m probably a bit quiet but I’m figuring it out. On the plus side, I was a bit concerned that this doing a baby thing would lead to a huge identity crisis in real life, but happily that’s not the case. I may be feeling massively self-conscious about talking about it all online, but as for the rest of it, I feel really happy and content. I’m starting to have secret suspicions that I might actually be doing a half-decent job at this parenting lark, and am more entertained by my daughter than I thought possible. If nothing else, it’s a wonderful thing for a show-off like me, because where else am I going to find someone to fully appreciate all my shit jokes, wholly inaccurate impressions and badly choreographed dance routines? OH GOD, I’M GOING TO BE A COMPLETE NIGHTMARE, AREN’T I?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do feel free not to read this, rather than reading it and hating it, won’t you. I’m not attempting to be some nause of a mummy-blogger, but my recent adventures in the uterus department led to me whining on to a friend about all the things I simply didn’t have a clue that pregnancy or childbirth entailed. She is WELL UP for doing a baby herself, and asked me to write them down before I blank them out forevermore. So for her (you know who you are), and perhaps by accident for others – here are My Thoughts and Feelings. Knowledge is power, etc etc.

Pregnancy

Woah, but it’s a long old haul. The end is pretty dreadful, what with all the waiting, and the questions and all. Some days I turned my phone off just to avoid people asking if I’d had the baby, and offering me well-meaning advice on how to bring about the big event. Anecdotes follow the lines of, ‘Well, I ate a curry on Tuesday, had sex on Friday and my beautiful baby was born merely three weeks later! 🙂 :-)’.

Here’s the thing – none of these things work, but in the process of trying all the curry, sex and pineapple washed down with five litres of raspberry leaf tea you will spend a fortune, do a lot of naked crying, gain ten pounds and experience chronic indigestion. As a partner, friend or health professional I can only recommend never mentioning any of these words, because you won’t be the only person to have mentioned them in that particular 24 hour period, and you may well be responsible for making the preggo lady cry. This article here http://www.mumsnet.com/pregnancy/labour-and-birth/getting-labour-started explains better than I can how the science behind some of these things is sound (prostaglandins in sperm open the cervix, you say?) but the reality (you’d need at least 14 ‘shots’ of sperm on a daily basis, and to keep your legs in the air for the whole day) is less than ideal. The baby will come when it is ready to, or you’ll be induced. Now throw your phone in the bin.

Childbirth

Quick caveat to all those mental internet mothers – this is merely my experience, but I just wanted to offer an alternative viewpoint to all the horror stories out there that people tell with such grisly relish. Here goes: Labour isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. I get that it’s different for everybody and I was pretty scared beforehand but for me, after nine and a half months of pregnancy, which I still feel a bit guilty for saying I didn’t enjoy; and three days of being induced with no results other than pain – giving birth was (and I’ve thought for a while about whether I really mean this, but I do) – pretty brilliant really. Once I was ready to go, the idea that this would soon all be over made me readier than I’ve ever been to get tough and GET A THING DONE. I looked at the clock and decided however bad it was, I could take any pain for two hours. I love a goal, me. Like someone had injected pure ‘spirit of woman’ into my veins (Beyoncé mixed with Kate Bush and Debbie Harry), I felt incredibly, majestically, mythically fucking strong. Basically, if I put that much effort in at the gym I’d be able to bench press my dad. Using every muscle I owned starting with my eyelids, I pushed my baby out in one hour and nineteen minutes. I beat my goal! A new PB!

Afterwards, you will find that many people wish to make assumptions about your vagina and pelvic floor, which seems a little rude to say the least. Particularly if you have a big baby, people will assume that you are completely ruined afterwards. WHAT A LOT OF HORSESHIT. Your body is perfectly equipped should you decide this is what you want to do with it, and you’re using muscles which like all others in the body can stretch, tighten and become more powerful. Thanks to some very frank and open discussion with the ace women who brought me up, I’ve been bossing pelvic floor exercises from an early age and I think it helped in carrying my baby, delivering it and getting back to normal super pronto afterwards. Regardless of whether you want to have a kid or would rather die in a fire, those exercises are one of the best things you can do for yourself, lady health-wise, SO START CLENCHING, YO.

Afterwards

So here’s an odd thing – it takes ages afterwards to have a wee. You have to sit on the loo for about twenty minutes, concentrating like you’re trying to solve a complicated maths problem while your body tries to re-adjust to all the information coming from that whole area. When you do, it really stings, because you are essentially weeing onto many tiny wounds. This lasts maybe a week or two, which is precisely what you need at this difficult time when the only peace you get is to briefly lock yourself in the toilet. Drink tonnes of water, not squash or juice, and follow the optimistic midwife advice to ‘simply pour a jug of water over the area at the time of urination’. If you can make this happen without flooding your bathroom or knickers, or losing the jug down the toilet, then congratulations for you are a better woman than I. It’s silly advice, so fuck it off.

You bleed for weeks. It’s called lochia and it happens to everyone. It’s like having a very heavy period,  times six, for ages. Just when you think it is lessening, it gets worse again, then it’ll stop, and then you’ll get a motherfucking period. Buy all the pads there are, and chocolate, for iron.

Boobs

You get lulled into a false sense of security at first, when you’re just making a few drops at a time of golden liquid called colostrum and that’s all the baby needs. Then a few days later your milk comes in and shit gets real, real quick. If you don’t know what to expect you might worry about how your breasts feel. So, I’ll tell you, they will feel like a big old tight bag of walnuts wrapped in a silk handkerchief. I give you this information so you don’t have to wander round going ‘does this feel normal or am I turning to stone’ and offering your tits to everyone you meet LIKE I DID.

Other boob stuff – when you feed your baby with one breast, the other one will feel all left out and start aching and producing milk as well. How splendid, you think, I am actually leaking milk. Congratulations, for it will also happen in the following circumstances:

  • When your baby cries
  • When another baby cries
  • When you think about your baby a bit too hard
  • When your boobs are too full
  • Tuesdays

Baby

So, sleep deprivation is a major, major bitch and there’s nothing you can do about it, ’tis a thing to be endured and got through, and it’ll get better eventually. Changing nappies is quite dull, but you’ll amaze yourself with how little you mind getting poo in your hair. Those are the rubbish things, but to end on a positive note, here’s a lovely thing. I didn’t realise, after all those months of hefting her around and waiting for her to arrive just so I could stop being bloody pregnant, that she would land on my belly, hot and squirming and taking big, thirsty breaths, and I would look into her tiny face and be completely bowled over. Not with love – I loved her and felt protective from the start, but it took a few weeks until she became ‘her’ for me to fall completely in love with – but because, astounding as it sounds, I already knew her face. That recognition and sense of familiarity was one joyous, splendid thing. PRAISES BE.