“You will feed an increased need for urination,” said the doctor.
His cool medical jargon did not convey the reality of a pregnant woman’s need to pee every ten minutes. In a 45-minute commute to work I’d have to pull into every petrol station to use the bathroom. I developed loo radar. By month 8 I could do the midnight loo runs like a somnambulant zombie.
Which brings me to maternity clothes. If you have the financial wherewithal to buy a new wardrobe from Marion & Lindie for what equates to 6 months of your life, go ahead. I didn’t, and I felt deep antipathy for not being able to wear the clothes I had. I had to give up when in the middle of a deeply depressing play about homeless people in London, my leather pants gave up the battle and PING my button shot across the audience to a domino effect of “Ow!”, “Ow!”, “Ow!”
“What was that?” asked the father of the baby.
“That,” I said in a fit of giggles, “Was my button.”
He erupted into that male sort of deep booming laughter that was completely inappropriate for the scene enacted on the stage.
Now, women have been breastfeeding since the year dot. It’s 100% earth mother natural.
How hard could it be? Harder than you think. I didn’t have a clue, neither did my babe in arms. So, don’t scoff at earth mother remedies. I tried ice-packs, gels and other over-priced solutions to provide relief from painful swollen boobs.
The answer is cabbage. Great big cabbage leaves. Stick them in the fridge, get the Dad to cut out nipple holes in the middle and slap them on.
Yes, you will smell like cooking cabbage.
Yes, you will never eat cabbage again.
But, I’ll tell you what it works like a dream.
The things no one tells you.
Like the fact that the pheromone released during sex is the same as the one released during feeding time. What this means is that when a few weeks have past and you’ve forgiven your husband for the act of birth and are ready to get jiggy with it, each time you start the baby will cry and your boobs will erupt like Niagara Falls.
Basically, if you want a romantic night in Club Duvet, get Granny to babysit.
For some reason men do not take kindly to these sorts of interruptions.
Then there is going back to reality. We would all like to stay home and be fulltime moms, but the reality is that most of us work. Armed with my breast pump I returned to fulltime work after 4 months of self-doubt and a deep fear my job would be gone when I got back.
The interior designers had equipped every office with a glass wall so I had to take refuge in the printer room for privacy. I would wedge myself into the space between the printer and the wall, get set up and suddenly everyone and his auntie needed to photocopy something.
After each session I’d empty the milk into a bottle clearly marked, “Breast milk. Do not drink” and placed it in the fridge. One day I arrived to discover half of it was gone.
I strode into the largely male open plan workspace and shouted loudly, “Who drank all my breast milk?”
It seemed every one of my colleagues spontaneously ejected their mouthfuls of coffee.
It was a sort of divine karmic moment.