Thoughts Of A First Time Mum (Part 1)

1. Mara feeds 8 times a day. I refer to these meals as breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper, midnight snack and It’s-4am-and-I’ve-been partying-all-night-and-now-I’m raiding-the-fridge-looking-for-food-happiness.

2. We were in the Special Care Baby Unit for 5 long weeks. These weeks consisted of regimented feeds, nappy changes and kangaroo care. Once home, we realised we had become totally institutionalised. For the first 24 hours with Mara we just sat about, looking at her and then at each other. “Do you think we are allowed to have her out for a cuddle now?..

3. Constant expressing whilst in SCBU makes time just disappear. 3 hourly expressing basically takes away a third of your day - I have 16 hour days. The sleep deprivation also makes you slightly mad. So much so that I found it increasingly amusing to sing Labrinth's “Express Yourself” at 3 hourly intervals. This strange ritual became so normal that when I sang “Express Yourself”, Mark would respond with “Do Do, Do do do do Dah do”.

4. While in SCBU, I learnt a new language. Let me demonstrate:-

Actual Conversation:
Loving Wife: Did you sterilise that stuff I left out?
Loving Husband: No. Do you want me to?
LW: *sigh* No, it’s fine.
Realistic Translation:
LW: Why haven’t you sterilised that stuff?
LH: I couldn’t be bothered. Do I have to?
LW: Yes!!! FFS.

5. I think there are incidents in life which teach you the true meaning of phrases you use every day and perhaps do not totally understand. I now feel I understand the terms “applying your war paint” and “putting on a brave face”. Every day, I forced myself into the shower, blow dried my hair and put on my make up. This was literally “war paint”. I was preparing myself for battle and hiding behind a mask. I always thought such frivolity in the face of a crisis was vanity. Now I know differently. On the third week, I felt that in order to combat the excessive crying it was time to bring out the big guns. Liquid eyeliner was duly applied… there is no coming back from tear-streaked eyeliner.
There are three progressive rooms in SCBU - Panda Pad, Zebra Zone and Monkey Mansion. On day 21 we were hanging out with the stripey horses so there was no way we were going back to the panda house! No tears!!

6. My insistence on showering and applying make-up lead to a couple of the nurses calling me “Glam”. Let me be frank, I have never been called glam before. Not on my birthdays, not on my wedding day, not when I have spent hours getting ready for a night out. Therefore, the first time I heard this comment I was flattered. The second time I was mildly suspicious. The third time the phrase “throw the dog a bone” came to mind.

7. This one works best if you are aware of Mark’s season ticket to St John’s Hospital…*
I spent 3 days in the labour ward. When we arrived home around midnight on day 4, I had to be practically carried into the house. With adrenaline and dihydrocodeine both having worn off, I was feeling rough. So rough, I commented that I felt like I had been hit by a bus. Mark’s response was:
“Well, I HAVE been hit by a bus, so I can tell you that you will feel better soon.”

*Mark has visited the hospital more than your average cat, with a catalogue of work accidents and general mishaps. Obviously, NONE of these were his fault. A double decker bus drove into his van around six years ago, earning him a brief stint in a neck brace, a short stay in hospital, a week off work and the ability to tell his post-partum wife that he knows real pain.

8. The privacy screens in SCBU double as invisibility cloaks. The couple opposite us barely broke breath to each other for the 7 days our babies were roommates in Monkey Mansion. However, come feeding time, pull over the screen and let the bickering commence. This applied across the board. I have heard marital issues, staff gripes and disgruntled patients. Myself and Mara were party to a world of drama behind our screen of concealment - it was like The Steamie but set in a hospital. One woman wouldn’t even look at me in the corridor, but the second that “cloak” went on I discovered how much she hated her sister-in-law, and that her husband could, and I quote, “get to f**k”.
Well, that made up for me missing TV for the past month.

9. Post birth, through the haze of gas and air, I suspected that one of the attending doctors was Irish. I mean, who doesn’t love an Irish accent? And so I enquired if he was, in fact, Irish. Mark did not take this well - “I’m RIGHT here”

C’mon, even if I was actively hitting on the doc, I’m fairly sure that we wouldn’t have stood a chance after meeting in that situation… the allure is gone!

10. Towards the end of my pregnancy I noticed I had developed a bit of a toddle.  Yes, the increasing bump had lead me to walk with one foot headed to Glasgow and the other to Edinburgh. This was nothing compared to the post birth limp. You may have heard of the Walk of Shame and the Stride of Pride, but when I shuffled from the labour ward to SCBU, I realised the existence of the Waddle of Woe.

11. It must be f***ing great to be a man. I know, controversial comment considering the title of Mark's blog, and this bold statement will probably mean this is the first, and last “Thoughts Of A First Time Mum”. However, the term ‘sleeps like a baby’ is being embraced by more than more member in the Irvine household. 3 hourly feeds are brutal and unfortunately I cannot make an incomprehensible noise, roll over and sleep for another 2 hours. This is before I even start on labour, never mind 9 months of pregnancy. OK, I can only claim 7 months of pregnancy. We ladies, the fairer sex, have been given a raw deal… Mother Nature is a sadistic bitch. Would I change it for the world? No chance.

12. I have been genuinely overwhelmed by the kindness and support that people have shown us. Mara has received so many well wishes, cards and presents and I have been touched by them all. Many of these messages helped us through difficult times in SCBU. From our best friends, to people we haven’t even met, from our neighbours to 
those far and wide… Thank you so much!