Having a baby: expectations vs reality

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 Photo: Getty Images

People love to warn you about what to expect when having a baby, but they can be way off when it comes to the reality, as these points show. 

1. The cuteness

People tell you you'll adore your baby, but it's hard to imagine how that will feel in reality.

The truth is, nothing could prepare me for how cute I found my own babies.

I was utterly mesmerised by them.

From their perfect little ears that looked like they were handcrafted out of clay, to their teensy weensy toes, my heart melted till it was nothing but a puddle of mush by my feet.

2. The sleep

Like all pregnant women, I had been warned that babies don't sleep much.

What I didn't know was that my baby would take a hammer and smash sleep into a trillion little pieces.

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I didn't know that my baby would then hand me a tiny shard of that mess and that I'd look at it, utterly confused, and go, 'Huh? What is this?'

And my baby would say, 'It's sleep.'

And I'd go, 'Uh, no. I've had sleep before. This is nothing like sleep.'

3. The crying

Of course I'd been warned that babies cry.

But the reality of having a crying baby is so many light years away from that blasé statement – "Babies cry" – that it might as well have been spoken in Swahili.

Listening to my baby cry felt like my baby was literally sitting on top of my heart and tearing off tiny bits of my heart muscle.

No wonder it hurts when she cries, I thought, as another little piece of heart was pinched off.

4. The world

Things will be different after the baby comes, people warn you.

What they should say is that the entire world is now different.

Before having a baby, my world used to fill an entire universe.

After she arrived, I felt like I'd taken up residence in the smallest corner of the smallest room in the smallest house – a place where the washing, my baby's naps, and showering took on such importance, they filled most of my days.

It felt weird, yet oddly comforting, to live in that tiny corner, but it was also okay for the time being, because that corner had everything I needed.

5. The love

Here's the biggie. You'll never feel love like it, they say. The love makes everything worthwhile, you'll hear.

Yes, yes. Yes yes yes yes yes.

The love. Oh, the love.

It's everything. It really is. It is the stuff of life, this love. It is the essence of all that's good in the world.

It's that moment of excitement when you open your birthday presents as a six year old kid, your gappy teeth forming a huge grin as you cradle that much-wanted Cabbage Patch Kid.

It's sunshine on a meadow, buttercup-yellow daisies and sparkling streetlights in the rain.

It's every cliché, muddled together, and smooshed and reformed to create something so spectacular, it shines through all the washing, and crying, and exhaustion, to form this glow that makes everything okay.

It's indescribable, really.

I guess that was one thing they were right about after all.