Whilst pregnant I was on the receiving end of unsolicited advice from strangers most oft-repeated was; “Sleep as much as you can now!” spat out with urgency, conspiratorially, eyes widened, as if passing on some golden nugget of wisdom. Well let me tell you something, no amount of pre-baby sleeping can prepare you for a firm, decisive, consistent head-butting of your breasts at 2am, in search of a dribbly nipple.
The thing I found most surprising about being thrust into motherhood, was exactly that. Being thrust into it. I was alarmed to find that there is no lull between delivering the child and suddenly having to attend to his every need and decipher his cryptic codes. On the third day of offering up my breasts to this little one probably every 30 minutes, to be suckled for 30 minutes straight, I was convinced my nipples were going to fall off to the floor.
Then there was the constant chase of the oh so elusive burp, it became the most beautiful sound in the world, peace inducing and anxiety relieving, at once, pure music. I would sit up with my back against the head board, cushioned by pillows, knees up and straddle him across my knee, leaning his torso against my chest, 20 minutes into his sleep, the bubbles would work their way up and the beautiful burp would surface, he would smile in relief and I in delirium not knowing whether to laugh or cry at the one hour of sleep that would ensue.
Twice at 8 weeks old my baby sister took him overnight, with bags of frozen milk and excited cousins looking forward to having Aunty Zainab’s baby. The first time, after she left, I screamed down the house excitedly, hopping from room to room, chattering away to myself, going to the bathroom unaccompanied, taking a long shower, tears of joy mixing with the water, star fishing on the bed. I was so excited with my free time and the possibility of all that I could achieve that I promptly passed out into a sleep coma, startled to wake up four hours later by boobs that were ready to explode.
The second time, I scheduled a date with the boyfriend, managed to comb my hair and apply some lipstick, (outside my lip line, I later found out) and sauntered off to the Cinema, walking in the crisp winter air, trying to take deep breaths whilst constricted by my baby snap back thing. Operation snap back by force. That’s another thing that shook me to the core; the shape of my stomach post baby. I looked down at this wobbly mass of a soft shrunken belly, deeply pigmented, totally alien. I was convinced I would have to start to wear a waist trainer permanently like those girls I’d been laughing at on Instagram.
“Noooo, Nabs, it gets back to normal for sure”, my friend Oreke said in consolation, super-mama of two boys, abs of steel, size UK XXXS. Her post baby body gave me hope, but she’s also a professional runner and a part-time control freak, so hope itself isn’t enough!