One minute you are young, remarkably wrinkle free and sailing through life on a breeze of blissful irresponsibility. Then you decide to become a parent. How hard can it be you chuckle as the two lines appear on the supermarket pregnancy test (carelessly thrown in with a bottle of wine, soft cheese and some extra strong espresso – what are the chances after all that it will happen so quickly). You partner seems oddly silent but gamely tries to show no fear (the sweat on his forehead is a dead giveaway). He will later drink the wine himself and devour the soft cheese while you watch jealously drinking your decaf tea. This will be just the beginning of the many sacrifices of motherhood.
As the months fall by (and that date on the calendar looms closer to reality than ever before) you begin to realise that life will truly never be the same again. It’s not just that you can no longer sleep or that you count your cups of coffee or that the stairs has now taken on Everest proportions…it’s that feeling that you are no longer really alone in your own mind. Every thought is overshadowed by The Baby. Will this help The Baby? Will this harm The Baby? What is the best thing to do?
It is no longer just your own life you are living; it as if you are living (not just eating) for two. Your body holds two people; two hearts beat in that body and two brains work away at keeping everything ticking over as it should be (one of these brains is very tiny and underdeveloped but then the same could be said for your brain some days). It is a great responsibility to live two lives at once, sometimes you don’t feel up to the challenge and consume a vast amount of calories as food is now a substitute for everything you are denied (wine, sex – too uncomfortable – and a decent night’s sleep).The months drag by, your feet ache, your back has given up the ghost and people joke that you must be carrying twins.
Then the day dawns when this girl’s life becomes this mother’s life and the world as you know it morphs into an alien landscape, a sparkling riot of colours; love has never felt this deep or scary before. A soft smelling bundle of warmth is placed in your arms and life will never be quite as free or as easy again but with your price of freedom comes a love you have never known before. There will be struggles ahead and sleepless nights and days when you just want to cry but…you will be rewarded with sticky kisses, warm cuddles and a life rich in meaning. You will still carry that girl in your heart, she will never be left behind but the joys and sorrows of motherhood will strengthen her; they will mould her into a woman and this life will be something totally unexpected but very much worth every ounce of pain.
It was that time of year again. My bras were beginning to let the team down and showing serious signs of wear and tear. So I bravely faced the Annual Bra Fitting. I decided to wait until I was visiting my parents as I could rope in my own mother to help mind the tiny lady. She has been quite calm these days (for a toddler) and I didn’t really expect any bother but still it would be foolish not to plan ahead for contingencies (toddler meltdown caused by tiredness, hunger, general just-being-a-toddler).
Typically she did not nap that day and was hyper as only a toddler on very little sleep can be. There were no tears, however, just a lot of high-pitched shouting and giggles. Then we walked into the shop. The change was immediate and loud! Two of my mother’s friends came over to see her…oh she is the image of you….suddenly the smiles disappeared, the whimpers turned into wails and the women were quick to make their excuses and disappear. The small body strained against the straps of her buggy angrily. We let her out. She made straight for the escalator. The sight of this magical, moving stair-case cheered her right up and the tears dried on her cheeks. She was enchanted…not enchanted enough to actually step on to it herself, however, I had to carry her. The problem arose when we got off and again, again, again! Suddenly the stairs was ‘broken’ (yes I do frequently – far too frequently – lie to my toddler), there were some tears but she was soon distracted by a mirror (a source of endless fascination for your average toddler).
This left me facing my own mirror along with my inner demons. The sales assistant had advised me to take off my top and wait in a fitting room. The sweats began. I really, really can’t explain the levels of anxiety this whole fitting debacle induces in me. It seems I would have been far more comfortable in the Jane Austen era of modesty than our current era where even lingerie has been revived as outerwear. I tried hard to ignore my slightly wobbly belly in the mirror facing me as I waited for the fitting to actually begin. This is often the worst part; faced with a body you generally don’t spend too long gazing at in the harsh light of a fitting room. Then my assistant appeared, measuring tape in hand. She appeared unconcerned; she probably does this at least ten times a day. I immediately tensed up. This fitting business involves far too much close contact for my liking. On second thoughts the actual measurement is probably the worst part. Then comes the actual trying on of bras – black, white, multicoloured, under-wired, padded; the choices are endless and far too many. I try to narrow it down as quickly as I can. There are only so many times I can stand there in my bra and jeans discussing the merits of each piece of underwear. I am just struggling into choice number two when it happens. The tiny lady saves me.
Up until now she had been perfectly content to peep into empty fitting rooms and wave at herself in the mirror. Then she discovered mama was behind one such door and there was no pleasing her until she was up in my arms. Feigning an annoyance I was far from feeling I threw my top back on, grabbed two bras and suggested I return another day. The assistant was sympathetic and suggested I leave the tags on and return them if they were unsuitable. Relief! I could try them on at home.
But, unfortunately, the story doesn’t quite end there. I’d had a niggling feeling all along that she had measured me incorrectly. So when I got home naturally the bras were not a good fit. So now I have to return to go through the whole rigamarole again. Who knows what will happen this time but I’ll be making sure to bring my toddler along for an easy escape should it prove necessary. Toddlers; sometimes they can actually be quite useful!