Why didn’t anyone tell me?

I have this friend who I love dearly – she really is one of my best friends.

There is about a 7 year age difference between us – she is younger than me.  We get on like a house on fire, and she makes me laugh so much that it makes my soul smile.  She is one of the most beautiful and vibrant people I know.

She got married about four years ago and had a baby recently.

I recall chatting to her when she was pregnant.  There were several moments where I really wanted to “bring her down” and discuss the “someone should tell you the reality of pregnancy, birth and the thereafter…” but I felt she was so happy and optimistic, and maybe it would be different for her …. maybe. 

I decided to leave it, and only tell her something if she asked specifically.

She knew I chatted on forums and she knew I wrote a blog because I found all things motherhood a challenge. For me it was lonely and I did not really have someone who was telling me the “real stuff” or again maybe I was not listening.

At the time my biggest lament was “why did no one tell me that it was going to be like this….”

But that being said,  I was not going to be a downer on someone else’s rather happy parade. 

If they are all excited and optimistic about it, and prefer not to hear, then I am quite happy to smile pleasantly and let them remain happy.

She kept saying “I know it will be hard but thousands of women do it and I will be fine…”

And though I really felt I wanted to put my hand up and go “I really need to tell you what you are letting yourself in for ..” I resisted and instead opted  to take the high road and say little or nothing. 

<I really had to chew the inside of my cheek, as saying nothing is not part of my natural makeup.>

Fekn hell.

She had a natural birth that included screaming, tearing, baby getting stuck at the shoulder, baby being suctioned, OBGYN screaming (screaming) I NEED HELP HERE, OGBYN doing purl-plain-purl-plain to put her back together again, and and and …. (listen, I think she is a super hero for making it through, really, I might have stood up and said “Okay that is about as far as I am going here – someone give me gas or general anasthetic, and someone get this frikkn baby out …. because I am done!!”)

When I visited her later on “birth day” she had that far-away look like when someone sees something horrific.  It was as if she had survived something huge, but had seen the dark side and was now had a haunted look about her.

But we laughed and I patted her hand, and listened to her talk about her going home and how that was going to be …and I patted her hand a bit more, because she did not appear to be worried.

Again I felt an overriding urge to go “er…….” but I didn’t.  She seemed happy, she seemed confident, and that was enough to keep me quiet, and for hells sake she had just been through Hades.

She got home and unfortunately that is really where the fun started.

Baby is struggling to latch, she is stressed and upset and clearly not sleeping, and is making nearly daily trips to the clinic – I really really feel sorry for her.  When I speak to her I can feel her pain, and I want to cry with her.

Why can I feel her pain?  Because I was there.

And so were most (if not all) first time mothers. 

We have lived that hell of arriving home with your new born.   You are about 5km from that Linus blanket that is the nurses red button, and suddenly that sleepy little fresh smelling baby is screaming and you do not have a clue how to cope.  You are hormonally overloaded, your body is exhausted and nothing is working like it says it will in the books.

Nothing.

She is trying to breastfeed and its fkn difficult and it is not working.  But she has all this pressure that she must and she is weeping and wondering if it makes her a bad mother if she does not breastfeed!

Oh my heavens, my heart bleeds for her. I wish I could tell her that it will be better tomorrow, but we all know that first 6 – 8 weeks is like a slow ride to Danté’s hell without coins to pay the ferryman to get out of it.

And then she says: “Why did no one tell me that it was going to be like this…?” with a sort of hysterical note in her voice.

I love this girl – I really do!!

The short answer is, no one tells you because no one listens.

Everyone thinks that they are going to have this miracle pregnancy and this “soft light and roses” birth, followed by  the new little family skipping off into the sunset.  It is all going to be heaven and soft milky baby burps from here on in.

As sorry as I do feel for her – and I do – part of me smiles – not because I am a mean person – and quite possibly because I am – but because sh&t we all go through this, and I remember it, not fondly, I just remember it.

<but I do hope for her that this 6 weeks passes quickly, she regains her sanity and that this is a small bump on her road with her new baby …. I really do>

Gawd help you if you try to tell a pregnant first time mom about the “big bad world” because she will raise her perfectly plucked eyebrow and place her left hand – so you can see the glint of her wedding ring –  gently onto her perfect bump, and tell you in no uncertain terms that you are sorely mistaken, she has this under control.

And that is why when I see a really happy pregnant first time mom, I smile, take a really large sip of my Chenin Blanc, lean over and go: “So how’s it all going?” with a slightly evil glint in my eye.

Advertisements

Fortunately I met Fortunate ….

If you recall Pepe was going to be going away and I had to find someone to replace her while she was on annual leave.

The problem is that at the mere mention of Pepe not being available my heart starts to race, my pupils narrow, and breathing becomes difficult.

I realize that there are thousands if not millions of woman that cope without the aid of a maid, but I am not one of them.  It appears my DNA was designed differently, and I need help – as I already have psychiatric assistance I might as well get some household assistance as well.

In the early years I roughed it without a maid, and now that I have a maid/nanny/house keeper – which ever is more politically correct for you – and I look back now at my previous life, and wonder what the hell I was doing!

Later for that.

Pepe keeps me sane(r). 

Because of Pepe I get to skip off to work, reasonably guilt free.  I get to wear clean ironed (oh the luxury) clothes.  I do not have to wash the kitchen floor, and pubes collecting behind the toilet are no longer my concern.

More importantly I do not have to get irritated when I look at dried Pronutro left on the kitchen table.

The fact that I have a Pepe allows me the opportunity to work full day.  There is no way I would be able to do that – and keep a semblance of my sanity – if I did not have her managing the house and keeping my kids reasonably clean.

My kids go to school with packed lunches, and Oros in a bottle – if it was left to me we would do a MacDonalds drive through on the way to school.  I get to kiss Isabelle good by each day knowing she is well cared for in our home, and she spends her days with someone who adores her only slightly less than I do.  Isabelle gets to sleep in her own cot and has the delicious opportunity to destroy her sister’s neat bedroom.  It is all heady bliss.

When Pepe announced she was going on annual leave, I felt a bit of despair as I know that without her my life would start to crumble.  I anticipated the pain and the anguish, and started planning for the inevitable “sky falling down.”

I am wise enough to realize that “we cannot cope without Pepe” by relying on our ability to wake up early enough to prepare lunches, and calling on assistance from nearest and dearest to help us over this month. 

The unfortunate situation is that we do not have the quantity of “nearest and dearest” needed to pull off this coup.  Often, even with the best will in the world, we are dropped when we rely on someone else.

To avoid the usual panic stations, I approached an agency to assist me with a replacement for Pepe.  To be honest I was not filled with much in the way of hope, but plenty in the way of despair and horror.

Anyway after much backwards and forwards I found an agency, I did some interviews and I met Fortunate and decided to give her a whirl.

A try-before-you-buy plan shall we say.  I will confess that I was a bit reluctant to “try” Fortunate.  There was something there that was setting of a small red flag in the distance, and I could not put my finger on what it was, or why it was going off.

<but I balance my mothering intuition with the fact that it also told me in no uncertain terms that Georgia was a boy, so it has been faulty in the past>

Fortunate came in for two days while Pepe was still with us – and I thought, great that seems to be working. Pepe left on holiday and Fortunate stayed to fill her large shoes.

I was understandably nervous and suspicious and thought maybe Fortunate was going to steal Isabelle.  Have you seen how cute Isabelle is?  Totally stealable.  Totally reasonable thing to worry about.  Totally consumed my days.

Besides my two days of total paranoia, once I got over that part then it was great.  It was better than great.  What is better than great?  More great?  Greater?  Greatest?

It was that.

The month zoomed by and it was brilliant.  Fortunate is such a great find. I seriously did not even notice that Pepe was gone –  which I felt a bit guilty about, as I felt like I was “cheating” on my Pepe.

But it was seriously brilliant – like giddy curl-your-toes-while-wearing-shoes brilliant.

Pepe came back this week, and I could not face letting Fortunate go – I think anyone who has attempted to find someone to care for their children (and their house) knows that often you really have to put up with something awful because you can’t find someone really good.

But I have found great – and yes I am gloating.

We have decided to  try out a bit of colonial and have two house staff, yes, you go ahead and tut-tut, you do that if it makes you feel better.

Pepe is going to help us out during the week, and Fortunate is going to be there over the weekends.  Having Fortunate also means that if Pepe is ill or has to go to Home Affairs, or what ever, I can just call Fortunate in.

Damn life is good.

Listen, I have no idea how we are going to afford our staff complement and buy bread, but we can cross that bridge later, today I get to click my heels together three times and go whoop-whoop!

Pepe, with the kids, at our wedding – and no you cannot have our home telephone number to poach her.