File under things that no one tells you when you’re first pregnant: one day, you too will have a minor meltdown in a department store.
Up until now, the notion of a baby has been a lovely but relatively abstract one. Sure, there’s now a significant bump under my top that houses a tiny intruder who enjoys punching and kicking me like something from a Sci-Fi film and sees my bladder as their personal trampoline but I’ve had a relatively smooth ride.
For all intents and purposes, I hate to admit it but until now, I’ve been pretty smug. When I’ve inevitably fielded the concerned looks and questions about how I was feeling by those in the know, I was lucky enough to be able to bat back that apart from the initial exhaustion, I had a lucky escape with no morning sickness or nausea. In fact, I’ve frequently cracked jokes about one incident where I had a weird irrationally angry response to the smell of mushrooms being cooked by my husband. Turns out sensory reactions can happen in pregnancy, who knew?
While I’ve enjoyed reading about what’s happening inside my body during this pregnancy, I will be the first to admit that perhaps I have been somewhat laissez-faire in what happens once the baby is on the outside.
Now that I’m firmly on the delivery countdown with just weeks rather than months to go, things are starting to get real. My previous barely-visible bump is, well, out and proud. While I may appear slim-ish from the front, upon turning sideways it appears that I’ve swallowed a watermelon whole. Even walking around the house suddenly involves very careful navigation of our kitchen table. So far? Bump 1, mug of tea 0.
Suddenly I’m facing the very real idea that soon enough a tiny human will be turning our lives upside down and I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. When did I have this epiphany? The pram department of John Lewis, of course.
On a day off, I had gone for a stroll around the shops with my slightly more pregnant friend. While she is expecting her second child and ergo is now an old hand, it became monumentally clear that I am very much the novice as we stood amongst the car seats. As she expertly pointed out different models from various brands using words like iso-fix, buggy-compatible and Maxi-Cosi, my brain began to head into an emergency shut down mode.
And that was before we hit the four-wheel department. Previously, I’d been fairly lax about the fact that we would be using a very kind hand-me-down from another family member. Suddenly, I was staring at a pram that costs more than our monthly mortgage repayments and listening to its pros and cons while being encouraged to push it around the store. Yes, the suspension is great and wow, that one handed steering is lovely but how much again? And yet, I found myself nodding along and giving serious thought to a four-figure purchase for a travel system (who knew babies needed a SYSTEM to travel in?). I have to remind myself that it’s time to take a deep breath and step back. As much as I want the best for my baby, he or she will need a house more than a brand spanking new pram.
And of course, the buggy debate is just the tip of the iceberg. On the approach to my baby shower, friends start asking about what they can buy us. I shoo away their generous offers because honestly I just want to see everyone one last time and maybe enjoy a slice of cake before life turns upside down. But before I know it I’m being asked about room thermometers, baby baths and just how many muslins we own. Do we know about different sizes for different uses? Do we hell. And let’s not even get into the debate surrounding Tommee Tippee vs a Gro Egg.
Once again, mild panic sets in and I try to stop the room from spinning.
I find myself waking in the middle of the night, not only to pee yet again but also because I am consumed with what we – or rather, our baby – might need. I lie in the pre-dawn light googling ‘baby check list’, only to be overwhelmed again by companies who inform me that I definitely need a baby bouncer, a Moses basket and a snow suit for a child that will be born at the back end of summer. Okay, I know we had biblical floods last week but sub zero in early autumn? Bit of a stretch there guys, surely? … Or is it?
And now as I wistfully stroke my growing bump, I can’t help but wonder – and hope – that maybe somewhere in there, there might be a shopping list stashed along with a baby. And a maybe a manual too.
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