A friend of mine has not one but two colleagues who are expecting twins. For both women it is a first pregnancy and they both want to breastfeed. She asked me would I meet them and give some advice. I, of course, was utterly delighted to do so – there is nothing I like more than doling out advice. Unfortunately, I retain almost no memory of those first six months of utter exhaustion but, never mind.
My friend (mother of four) came to lunch as well and her colleagues were suitably grateful for her advice and mine. The pregnant women are both professionals in their mid-thirties and they have clearly no idea what is going to hit them despite being thorough researchers with health professionals and, you know, mothers in their families. I offered by way of comfort that I really didn’t think two was a lot harder than one. I did say that one was pretty hard in my experience. One of them said, “I am prepared for breastfeeding to be difficult and painful for the first week.” My friend and I almost laughed. The problem is that it’s really hard to imagine what it’s going to be like until you actually have a baby. One of them said, “My husband will sleep in the spare room as he will have to go out to work and will need his sleep.” My friend and I were firm that her marriage was unlikely to survive this kind of arrangement. Both of us said that it was much easier to go out to work than to stay home with a baby or two and, in fact, she would need any extra sleep that was going. I think she thought that we were crazy.
It really brought me back though to those early miserable days when I was so tired. But, as my friend said to me afterwards, “We got through it and our children are now almost grown ups, we did it!” In fact her youngest is only 12 but I still know what she means and in any event her 12 year old would (in the manner of youngest children) buy and sell the lot of us. My friend said that she gathered her four children together to tell them some good news recently (a promotion) and then had to step outside for a moment before making the announcement. From the hall, she heard her 12 year old confidently inform her older sisters in a stage whisper, “No it can’t be that, she’s definitely started the menopause.”