Before the start of 2020, if someone had told you that in a matter of months, people around the world would be forced to stop working, international travel would cease, there would be fights over pasta and toilet roll, every bloke would have a buzz cut that looks more chemo than commando, Donald Trump would advise people to inject Bleach, and a 100 year old man would raise £30 Million for the NHS and get a Number 1 hit… you simply wouldn’t believe them. Some things in life are almost impossible to predict, I mean, who could have foreseen the 9/11 attacks, Brexit, Boris Johnson as PM, Fidget Spinners, or Baby Shark (do do do do do do)? Though if anyone was going to predict the current state of affairs, I would have put money on The Simpsons, which has an eerily accurate reputation for predicting the future, from Homer discovering the Higgs boson, to animators drawing The Shard in London almost 20 years before it was built, to Bart catching a three-eyed fish only for a three-eyed fish to be actually discovered more than a decade later (also in a reservoir fed from a nuclear power plant!).
There are arguments that many authors, scientists and influential spokespersons have been predicting a Covid19-like pandemic for years. Bill Gates, for example, warned of a global pandemic in a 2015 TED talk, and again in a 2018 presentation. And any zombie movie ever made outlines the spread of infection and the social consequences of quarantining (to be fair, I’m genuinely surprised that some communities haven’t been reduced to rioting and looting, which has taken place over far more insignificant matters). Though, on the flip side, there have been some predictions made in the past that have been so incredibly inaccurate, that they are laughable. Einstein himself stated in 1932 that Nuclear Energy would never be obtainable, and in 1942 the 20th Century Fox movie producer Darryl Zanuck said that TV would never catch on as “People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night” (tell that to everyone in the current UK Lockdown!).
Similarly, there are many things that cannot be accurately predicted when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. I had such an easy pregnancy with Joshua that in my head I thought “geez, what do people bitch about, this pregnancy malarkey is well easy!” (because apparently in my head I sound like a middle-class Ali G, obvs). I could never have predicted how different it would be this time around. I’m bigger, sicker, more hormonal, spottier, and outright exhausted most of the time. But the thing that I’ve really found difficult, is how little I am able to physically do, compared to this time 4 years ago. The baby is due the day after Joshua’s birthday, so I am almost exactly as pregnant now as I was 4 years ago…. which is soul destroying when bloody Facebook Memories decides to taunt me with what past-Kat could do. Last week it brought up a video of me doing a Phoenix at 26 weeks pregnant (for those readers who don’t pole, mastering a Phoenix is like Donald Trump mastering the difference between Pacific (‘percific’) and specific (‘percific’) ….let’s just say I got my Phoenix first). This time around, I’m struggling to do a simple inversion because I physically can’t get over the bump anymore. I went home that night and cried. I know deep down that it is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, because what is important is the rapidly growing creature inside of me (which, if you think about it too much, is the base plot for some of the scariest horror/Sci-Fi films of all time *shudder*). But it just feels like every move I lose, I lose a little piece of me. Pole is what I do, who I am… what I used to be good at. Thanks to the Covid19 Lockdown, I have no job, no income, STILL no bloody financial help from the government(!), no childcare, and minimal downtime… to lose my pole abilities as well was a real kick in the lady balls. Though to be fair, last week was not a great week in general – within a matter of days I found my first grey hair, started lactating 3 months early (though just from my left boob?!), and, here’s the real kicker, I had to pluck a hair that was growing out of a mole on my chin! Seriously, how old am I?! But, it just goes to show that pregnancies, and the accompanying pain-in-the-ass hormones, are unpredictable, and that every pregnancy is different.
Despite this, text books and medical websites alike, try to provide ‘guides’ on preparing to bring a human into the world. These will often feature things like Lamaze classes, NCT groups, and how ‘Hypno-birthing’ will make labour the most magical experience of your life. I’m sorry, but I’ve been there before, and I would not describe squeezing something the size of a melon out of something the size of a lemon as in any way magical. Like many of my blog posts, I don’t see the benefit in wrapping the truth in cotton wool and pretending that it’s all rainbows and unicorn farts – that’s not helpful to anyone. So, I’ve devised a list of things that you could do to actually prepare yourself for the realities of pregnancy and early motherhood. WARNING: These are not things you would find on the NHS website.
1) Hire someone to periodically punch you really hard in the ovaries throughout the day with no warning. The kind of pain that makes you stop in your tracks and feel a little bit sick. Preferably when you are doing something active and/or important, like teaching a zumba class or running after your toddler as they bound onto the tram tracks. This will simulate what an active baby feels like in the later stages of pregnancy, and will also prepare you for ‘after-birth’ pains. Now there’s something the books don’t tell you – after you have effectively given birth twice (once to a human, once to a placenta, both of which may or may not get stuck), you will continue to have contractions that feel like you are being punched in the ovaries for days after. Yey!
2) Source a 20kg weights vest and put at least 15kg of the weight on the front so that your back feels like it’s going to break and you can no longer see your toes. Then, attempt to shave intimate areas blindfolded.
3) Think of names for your baby-to-be, way ahead of time. Then sit down with your list of names and spend a fair amount of time trying to come up with all the ways that other kids could turn that name into an insult. Because let’s face it, kids can be dicks. Dig deep; access your inner asshole. Maybe call up a few actual assholes that you know and ask them how they would make fun of each name. Don’t hand the bullies a gift of a name that rhymes with fart, for example. Or any other bodily functions for that matter.
4) Buy a bag of flour and carry it around everywhere with you, as if it is your child. Everywhere.
5) Invite guests over then go to the toilet with the door open, whilst holding your bag of flour. Try to maintain a polite conversation without it seeming awkward or dropping your bag of flour. Learn to pull up your trousers with one hand.
6) Throw a pen, a carrot, a hand towel, a single sock and a bag of m&ms all over the floor, then pick each item up with your toes, whilst holding your bag of flour.
7) Locate a cat. Strap the cat into a car seat in the back of your car. Go for a lengthy motorway drive. Like babies, cats neither like cars nor being strapped down. Be prepared to be fought/scratched/bitten. Your cat will probably cry a lot like a baby, and because you are on the motorway there will be nowhere to safely pull over to comfort it. Both the cat and the baby will have no idea what you are saying as you desperately try to calm them down and not crash the car.
8) Have a drunk person set four alarms on your phone to go off at random times during the night. On second thoughts, just get the drunk person to stay with you for the night. The unpredictable crying, lack of bladder/bowel control and occasional projectile vomit will be good preparation for having a baby.
9) Pick a potato, or other inanimate object, to have an hour long conversation with. Babies are a lot of things but great conversationalists they are not. You need to dig deep to figure out ways to fill the silence. Makeup songs, recite your shopping list, experiment with various fart noises (with your mouth), and explain the entire plot of New Amsterdam (trying not to cry because you are totes emosh, and let’s be fair, New Amsterdam is underrated emotional genius).
10) Have someone randomly sneeze into your eyeballs with no warning whatsoever (maybe not during the Covid19 crisis)
11) Purchase a treadmill and an eleventy-billion-piece set of Lego. Start walking on the treadmill and have someone steadily empty the boxes of Lego onto the conveyor belt as you do so. This will get you used to (a) buying expensive things that you will rarely use, and (b) the pain threshold required for stepping on Lego. If you can’t get hold of Lego, try a box of upturned plugs. For a harder option, repeat the exercise whilst holding something delicate that cannot be dropped, like your flour baby.
12) Source an industrial fan. Put it on high speed and sit infront of it whilst trying to file important paperwork. Alternatively, have someone follow you around (preferably a midget so you often trip over them when you forget they are there) and have them throw sh*t around (usually metaphorically, but sometimes literally) as you desperately try to clean up.
13) Mix together lemon juice, vinegar, cheap perfume and battery acid. Acquire an old school pippette like the ones you used to use in science lessons (do they even still exist?), and drop the mixture into your eyes. At some point in pregnancy and/or early motherhood, you will be so tired and/or emotionally exhausted from crying that it will feel like your eyeballs have been picked.
14) Set off the alarm in your house and then make an important phone call. This is what it is like to try to talk to someone whilst your baby is screaming in the background.
15) If you plan to breastfeed, ask a friend to grab your boobs and pull them halfway across the room. This way you won’t be completely horrified by what a breast pump does to your body.
16) If you plan to bottle feed…. make a protein shake (preferably with milk) and drink all but the last inch. Hide protein shaker somewhere in the house. Wait 2 weeks then find the protein shaker and open lid. Try not to barf from the smell. This will prepare you for the numerous baby bottles you will inevitably misplace and then find again at a later date.