Babies are like human Velcro. Once you have one, they are around All. The. Time. In your personal space, all up in your grill like a close-talker. You just can’t shake the little buggers, bless their teeny socks.
Maybe I was underprepared for my little Space Invader, but the books didn’t cover this area. It is another human, welded to your body. Breathing, sweating, drooling.
Of course they are with you all the time! What did you expect? It’s a real baby, not a toy!
No, it’s not a Tamagotchi. I get that. I won’t be leaving him on the floor of a Daytona machine at the arcade after school. But they are glued to you 24/7. And not that stretchy snot glue on the back of shampoo samples. We’re talking industrial PVA here. You’re swaddling, cuddling, and carrying them around all day and night. I’ve developed a strain injury in my wrist from holding my baby a certain way for too long.
The physical adjustment in those first few months is a big one. I think it’s one of the hardest things about becoming a parent. Yep, you’ve got the wonderful, blessed task of caring for a fresh new life, and surprise! You won’t be more than two metres away from each other EVERY SINGLE SECOND from now on. Ready? You can’t even go pee without needing someone else to tap in and hold the kid. You have to be within boobs-reach away from the little wriggler at all times. It’s like having your own personal orbiting moon. Or a stalker.
To practice, strap a bag of oranges to your body and try to perform normal tasks like sitting down with a cup of tea or unloading the dryer. It’s frustrating. It’s heavy. The juice starts leaking, then you drop a couple and oops, now your fruit baby is dead.
This is not something they really delve into in birth class. I could have used less whiteboard diagrams of episiotomies and more tactical training in baby wrangling, because I was totally unprepared for the side effects. Sore muscles, scratched boobs, and the panicky fear that you’re never, ever going to have five minutes alone again.
The babies feel it too. After all, they had nine months of solo jacuzzi time in the womb. Suddenly there’s colour and movement, and big fleshy fingers in their face all day. I see it in my baby’s eyes when he wakes up from a nap and catches sight of me hovering. He’s clearly thinking, ‘YOU again! Don’t you have a life, woman?’
When it’s all so fresh and new, separating yourself seems impossible, and you can’t imagine a world where they’re not within your blurry eyeline 100% of the time. No one warned me that there would be times I’d be desperate for a break, even just to have a quick stretch and walk to the other end of the house without a drool demon dangling off me.
Like everyone, I still long for my solitude, and a proper, deep-condition-the-hair kind of shower. Just a few minutes alone every day. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don’t. But what I always make time for now is a lie down with my Space Invader. I prop his head up on my aching forearm and look at him. Warm drool rolls down his cheek and onto my skin. And I don’t notice much of anything in that moment, except how soft his ears are, and the way his tiny thumbnail digs into me when he’s grabbing my finger. Those minutes are all ours, and I realise my space is no longer my space, it’s shared. We’re stuck together, at least for a while. And I wouldn’t un-stick us for all the toy tickets in Timezone.
What surprised you the most about having a baby?