And suddenly you’re a parent

June 15, 2012

Labour itself came as a bit of a surprise. Well, to be frank so did the conception. After an operation for a twisted ovary I’d been told it was unlikely I’d conceive without assistance (medical assistance I mean – obviously I wasn’t expecting an immaculate conception) so we threw caution to the wind and bingo I was pregnant the next month. And technically married to someone else, but that’s another story. I will never forget sitting in the bathroom seeing that little blue line appear. Holy fuck. Wasn’t expecting that.

I’d always said I would give up smoking if I were pregnant. I loved it so much I could never give it up just for me, but realised I couldn’t inflict it on an unborn baby. But driving to work that morning I had half a cigarette. I felt so guilty smoking once I knew I was pregnant I didn’t tell anyone until years later. Ridiculous really as up to that point I’d been smoking 20 a day -including the 6 weeks when I hadn’t realised I was up the duff.

Pregnancy wasn’t my favourite time; an old heart problem woke up and I had fortnightly visits to the hospital. One of my best friends was due two days after me and she rang to say she’d had her baby early. I was livid. Jealous. Pissed off. And assumed that meant for sure I was going to be two weeks late. But that evening, sitting on the settee doing the Sunday Times crossword there was an almightly pop as my waters broke. He wasn’t due for another two days and I hadn’t even packed a bag. We had no baby clothes or anything. My husband couldn’t drive and the hospital was down in South London as we’d only moved to Ealing two weeks earlier. An ambulance would only have taken us to the closest unit and I certainly didn’t want that. So despite having been drinking brandy and not having passed a test, the father-to-be got in to the driving seat of my company XR3i to take me to St George’s. It wasn’t the most relaxing of journeys but we got there.

15 hours and about 300 contractions later I would have rammed the ‘beautiful object to focus on’ down the birthing guru Shelia Kitzinger’s throat if she’d been there. I was offered an epidural and would have happily plunged the needle in to my own back if I could. I’d done it enough times for other people in the past. The anaesthetist did his stuff and the bliss was indescribable. Contractions without the pain. 22 hours in to hard labour the baby went in to distress so all systems go to get him out pronto. The room filled with doctors; some for the birth, some for the baby, some for my heart. One high forceps delivery later a very blue baby arrived with the cord round his neck. No rush of maternal instinct from me – I just wanted the paediatricians to rescucitate him. Meanwhile I opened the sutures for the obtetrician sewing me up. They offered to take him to the nursery overnight (those were the days!) and I willingly said yes. I just wanted to sleep. Well, the first thing I wanted was a diet coke and some toast. Which I then threw up. The husband was despatched to get ‘some of those gro-bag things’ for the baby to wear and had to make his way home on public transport as he had no qualified driver to sit with him in the car.

Parenting did not come naturally to me. Or at least not the parenting of small babies. It was just terrifying. Well, the first one at least. I had no idea. At all. I didn’t enjoy those first weeks and months. Too much responsibility. No let up. No chance to send it back from whence it came. How on earth do single parents do it? Luckily my husband was easy with babies and he saw us through those broken nights and screaming days.When baby cried and I had fed, changed and tried to put him down to no avail, I too would be in tears. I don’t know how my husband coped. I didnt. I couldn’t get up and dressed and out of the house before 2pm. Every time I tried to do anything the baby would want feeding. Or changing. If husband was 5 minutes late getting home I had panic attacks that he was under a tube somewhere and I would be left with this baby to look after alone. The very thought filled me with fear and dread.

a natural

So I give you my

Top Ten Things I Didn’t Know Until I Was A Parent

  1. Despite incredibly busy hospital dotcoring jobs working over 100 hour weeks, I didn’t know what tired was until I’d had continuous months of broken nights
  2. I didn’t know what responsibility was until I had to care for someone helpless 24/7
  3. I didn’t know the sheer force and volume that breast fed baby shit can be generated at until I was cleaning up the back of his head after a particularly explosive episode.
  4. I didn’t realise how little I knew about parenting and how easy it had been to criticise others until I had to do it for myself.
  5. I didn’t know how to appreciate a night out properly until I couldn’t have them
  6. I didnt appreciate what I put my parents through until someone did the same to me
  7. I didn’t realise toddlers really would pick up dog shit and try to eat it
  8. I didn’t realise I would be able to walk out of the house and leave the front door wide open as I would get so distracted by the children.
  9. I didn’t know how badly run a meeting could be until I joined the PTA
  10. I hadn’t anticpated spending an entire boiling hot summer’s day at Disneyland dressed only in a zipped up cagoule and a pair of underpants as I’d had to remove all other clothing and dig a cagoule out of the boot because a child vomited all over me as we pulled up in the car.


10 Responses to “And suddenly you’re a parent”

  1. […] have blogged before about the shock of becoming a parent, but the Royal Birth brings it all flooding back. especially as she looked so calm and beautiful […]

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Hilarious! I particularly like point 7!

  3. Martin Sanders Says:

    just too many identical events to ours to mention from now knowing more about gynaecological complications than i ever knew i needed or wanted to and as for non sleeping children and vomit stories don’t get me started. Libby (my better half) has just read this and feels much better now she knows someone else has gone through all this (she has also started on the other blogs – i think you have another fan)

  4. michael Says:

    “The room filled with doctors; some for the birth, some for the baby, some for my heart”

    Which were you?

  5. Lorna Kyle Says:

    I loved this post.It just reminded me of how difficult and different it all was.I wish we had known each other then and we could have cried,and slept,on each other’s shoulder.My eldest son did his first 5 hour sleeping stretch when he was 1 year old. After his first 6 weeks ,I was called back to the Baby Clinic to talk to expectant mums about what it was like to have a child that never slept.I nearly fell asleep mid sentence and wore the same clothes that I had had on for 2 weeks. I was sitting next to the mum whose baby slept 23 hours in the day.I think she had time to knit her cardigan the day before…..

    • thanks Lorna – it would have been good to know you at the time too. i went a bit loopy knowing no one at all as we’d only just moved to the area. It sounds like your first born was a complete non sleeper whereas actually ours wasn’t bad compared to the second one………

  6. Terri Says:

    Loving the yellow cagoule Disney fashion. Really made me laugh on a dreary boring day writing. T x

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