Since I’ve had the little mini spud, I’ve tried a number of times to explain to people what shocked me the most about this reproducing lark.
All consuming, making me cry, full up inside, bursting, protective love.
Sure I’d heard some mumblings of it, seen a few people on TV talking tearfully about it – but who doesn’t love their baby? Throughout nature animal mammies love their babies and protect them. It’s not like I should have been surprised by these feelings for my little one. But I was.
It happened right from the moment of birth. My first sight of her, all white and glistening, still scrunched up, her cry ringing around the delivery room. Whoosh. Changed woman. I was now a mother and I felt, truly, like a different person.
In hospital, when everyone was gone home, I stared at her like a woman possessed. She was mine. Mine! Washed over with high-level painkillers, hormones and sleep loss, I cried, all to myself, because I was so bloody happy.
At home the slightest thought of any pain being inflicted on her was enough to bring more tears. Injections are a torture. Nappy rash is the work of the devil himself. Even a man sneeze, delivered by Dad and sending baby into convulsions of frightened sobs, means ostracisation of ‘Bold Daddy’ for the day.
Also changed is my ability to read or hear about any sad stories. ‘Stop!’ I’ll cry, interrupting whoever is delivering a story that features the loss of a parent / child / dog / anything living. ‘I just can’t deal with it.’ And I can’t. I’m a blubbering, over-sensitive mess. My empathy is through the roof. And I’m not sure if I like this new me. I’m a sap.
This new love is completely different to love love (with boyfriend or husband) sibling love (slightly jealous but unconditional) or friend love (less jealous, more conditional). It’s out there in a new realm of parental protective love; a world where I would hunt you down if you so much as looked sideways at my perfect bambino. I am Monster Mammy.
It’s really quite difficult to put these new feelings into words. It’s the number one thing I talk about when people ask me what the whole baby experience has been like. ‘There’s these feelings,’ I’ll say. ‘I can’t explain it… love… overwhelming… hormones… you know?’
But they don’t know. Only parents know. There’s even a code. You’ll meet new parents out, friends of yours who have recently had a baby, and you’ll pass knowing glances, eyes lighting up: ‘Amazing’.
This new baby love has helped me relate to my own parents. I now understand their strict philosophies in my teenage years, banning me from discos, drinking and boys for fear of what might happen to me.
Our little sprog will be over protected, wrapped up in cotton wool and only let outside the door if she holds my hand. Until she’s 21. And I don’t care what she has to say about it. Because I’m the parent. And I said so.