the part where you have a parasitic thing growing inside you. (Or inside someone else. Or maybe, if this is being read in The Future, inside the mechanical womb of a robot, thus saving everyone a lot of trouble and haemorrhoids).
Someone is pregnant!
Scenario A – It’s you. Click here
Scenario B – It’s your partner. Click here
Scenario C – It’s someone else. Click here
the part where the small sort-of-human thing emerges
So many ways to get this one wrong. For example:
1. You’re giving birth in a hospital.
2. You’re giving birth at home.
1. You’re open to the concept of pain relief
2. You’re not going to use any pain relief.
1. You are going to have your partner/mother/helpful friend present.
2. You’re going to give birth without a partner/mother/helpful friend present.
1. You’re open to the possibility of having a Caesarean.
2. You’re definitely not intending to have a Caesarean.
the part where you have a tiny tiny baby FOR WHOM YOU ARE COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE. AARGH. (It is ok to be terrified.)
There will be no attempt to address anything in a coherent or chronological manner in this chapter, because frankly looking after a baby tends to mean that the concept of time is now either meaningless or totally distorted. Stuff will happen, and then other stuff will happen, but attempts to impose such rational concepts as cause and effect will only result in further confusion. So here are some of the things you may experience, and the ways in which dealing with them will make you a bad parent.
For the last two weeks or so, you have not slept for more than 30 minutes uninterrupted.
A. Accept that this is just the way things are sometimes, carry on stoically, and ignore the pretty blue goblins telling you to cut off your own hands and feed them to gerbils. Eventually you will get some sleep and the hallucinations will wear off. Probably.
B. Experiment with changing the baby’s feeds, nap times, general routine, etc. Result: you will probably find yourself constructing a giant chart of everything you, your partner and the baby have ever done, and frantically poring over it for clues and patterns in the manner of an amateur, and somewhat panicky, detective. Unfortunately, your brain has been fried by parenthood, so you will end up deciding that the problem is something totally random like the colour of the baby’s favourite bib.
C. Sleep deprivation is a recognised form of torture, so have the baby arrested under section 1.17 of the Anti-Torture Act*. Extreme, yes, but it’ll be worth it to see the faces of the policemen when you explain the situation.
*I made this up.
It’s midnight and the baby is crying again.
A. Leave the baby to cry for a few minutes, to see what happens.
Result: you feel terribly guilty, and later your baby will grow up to be a robot detached from all human emotion, having learnt that nobody really cares about them.
B. Run in and offer the baby whatever it wants.
Result: you feel weak and controlled, and later your baby will grow up to be a spoilt, irrational narcissist, having learnt that they will always get everything they want without having to try.
C. Alternate between a and b. This will leave you feeling both guilty and weak, with a side order of inconsistent, and your baby will grow up to be a narcissistic robot with no value system. Have fun.
the part where the tiny baby is a bit less tiny, and you are completely insane from sleep deprivation (and probably if you are me, eating your own weight in cupcakes several times a day because if there was ever a time comfort food was needed, this is it. If anyone tries to take the cupcakes away from you, it is ok to have them arrested.)
the part where it all gets a bit better, hopefully, and the thing which previously seemed to exist only to cry, feed and suck all your energy away turns out to have a couple of positive qualities as well.
the part where there is smiling! Maybe you will even do some of it.
the part where there is movement, and you suddenly have a premonition of what it will be like when your baby can run away from you. (Hint: there will be shouting, and bruises, and probably a lot of hurried babyproofing.)
The part where there is walking. This is where the shouting, bruises, and hurried babyproofing comes in.
– Going back to work: the ultimate lose/lose situation
– Having another baby: ways to screw this up