Be back before Dawn

Today is Elphie’s due date, the day she was supposed to enter a world that would have been prepared for her following three and a half weeks of holiday leading up to it. The blog would have been filled with stories of cankles and moaning about the heat and exactly how huge I had become. Instead tomorrow she will be a month old and no longer the little mite that quickly entered the world a month ago. She is now growing out of her newborn clothes, looking around her and becoming more vociferous in her demands for more ethereal needs to be met than simply being fed such as wanting attention or to be held (generally at 3am). But she wasn’t supposed to be here.

I think I am probably safe in drawing an analogy to Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer here – it was first broadcast in 2000 so it’s unlikely anyone has been storing it up, waiting to partake in a Buffy marathon that we could spoil. However if you have not watched it and have it on your TV watching to do list then I will try not to spoil too much (and if you think I can’t be trusted then you can always skip the next paragraph!).

The thing is, in the season premiere a new character is introduced – Dawn, who is Buffy’s sister. The thing is, Buffy has never had a sister – she was an only child in seasons 1 to 4. Where had this “sister” come from? And why was everyone acting as if she had always been there? As a viewer of the show it was quite confusing!

That’s how it sometimes feels with Elphie, we are getting on with our lives as normal like eating dinner or talking to someone at a wedding and out of the corner of your eye you can see her in her moses basket or even more bizarrely, you look down and see her in a sling strapped to the front of you – where did that come from? How did I become responsible for a baby? It feels like we have been given someone else’s baby and sometime soon they are going to rock up and take her away.

I don’t think this is a sign of a lack of bonding or post natal depression, more that we simply haven’t made the psychological leap to parenthood and I think a number of factors have influenced that.

1. I had never quite got used to the idea that I was pregnant

This may sound strange, but there were times I would have a shower and be surprised to see my bump. Even when she was kicking, I could kind of disassociate myself from the idea that whatever was kicking me would make an appearance in baby form. Work was also pretty full-on, so I was still focussed on that – often working late and hence not giving much time to adjust to my condition.

2. She arrived over four weeks early

I rather expected the final four weeks after I had finished work to provide me with plenty of time to get used to the idea while rushing around buying stuff in preparation for her arrival, putting my feet up and meditating on life with a baby and reading my pregnancy books (perhaps even trying the pregnancy yoga and pilates DVDs that are still shrink-wrapped). A full on fest of baby-related stuff I had planned to get me used to the idea. But it didn’t quite work out that way.

3. She arrived quickly

I guess another time to accept your impending motherhood is during a marathon labour. If you have 24+ hours of contractions then it would be hard not to accept that a little being is about to make an appearance out of your ying yang. Rather cheating on labour, with it lasting 4-8 hours depending on how you measure it, it was more of a case of having no time to get used to the fact I was in labour, let alone focus on the end result.

But it does rather beg the question – when will we get used to the idea? Some time before she turns eighteen?

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