but my three-year-old was awake all night, and I've reached that special level of exhaustion where you're too tired to even
When you're pregnant, Hell is other parents.
As soon as you've announced your pregnancy there will be a queue of people lining up to give you advice. "Of course, you can't possibly prepare yourself for having a child," they will begin, before listing 75 ways you need to prepare yourself for having a child.
I thought things might be different with my second pregnancy. After all, I've managed to keep my existing son alive for three years - surely that is evidence of competency? He does mainly subsist on a diet of Haribo Starmix and those low sodium organic crisps that cost £8 a bag, but you can't tell by looking at him.
Alas. It turns out people with more than one child love to tell you how much harder life is about to get. At length. They always round off with a wry smile and a shake of the head, adding, "You've no idea what you're letting yourself in for," oblivious to the fact you do have some idea, having just spent two hours listening to them talk about it.
So if there's one thing new parents don't need, apart from a nappy bin that only takes special bags and costs more to run than a small car, it's more advice. But there are some things I do wish I'd known before I'd had my baby, so for what it's worth, here they are.
1. Your life is not over.
From the way some parents talk, you'd think having a baby means never sleeping, having sex or going down the pub again. This is not true! In fact, my own husband and I had sex just last February.
Yes, things are going to change. But some things will stay the same. And new, amazing, hilarious things will appear to make it all worthwhile. You will adapt to this new lifestyle and even enjoy it. Yes, you might have to swap that romantic villa holiday in Tuscany for a wet midweek break at Center Parcs, but honestly, you won't mind.
2. Not every parent falls in love instantly.
For many parents, holding their baby for the first time is the most magical moment of their life. They find themselves overcome with a rush of love and a desire to protect so powerful that they know nothing will ever be the same again. Suddenly, their whole life makes sense.
If that happens to you, brilliant. But if it doesn't, and you find the only thought in your head when gazing at your new baby is, 'He looks a bit like Michael Gambon,' don't worry. The love will come.
That goes for dads as well as mums; in fact, this piece of advice was given to me by a male friend. He expected the arrival of his first child to be something like the start of The Lion King, except with less giraffes.
However, it was a traumatic birth and his overwhelming emotion was one of relief that his wife had made it through. He spent the next few days worrying about why he hadn't fallen instantly head over heels with his new child, and wondering whether he was a terrible dad.
But slowly and surely, the love came through. Today he has one of the strongest bonds with his child of anyone I know. All his children, in fact, because despite that difficult beginning he went on to have three more. (Now that's when your life really is over.)
3. The Fear gets easier to live with.
The Fear is what wakes you up to you check your baby is still breathing six times a night. The Fear is what overrides the part of you that knows it's nappy rash, and makes you spend hours Googling "childhood leprosy". The Fear is the price you pay for happiness - it's the constant worry that it could all disappear, at any moment, with a single careless oversight or a simple twist of fate.
No one told me about The Fear, and it hit me hard. I spent the first few weeks of my baby's life simultaneously overwhelmed with joy and consumed with terror. Not just of something terrible happening to my son, but of feeling like this for the rest of my life; of never being able to truly relax again.
I wish I had talked to someone about it. And I wish that person had said to me, "Don't worry. You will always be afraid for your son, because you will always love him. But you will learn to live with The Fear. It will quieten down. It will become manageable, and sometimes even useful. Now shut up and drink this enormous glass of Merlot."
4. Competitive mums are a myth.
The media (i.e. the Daily Mail) loves to perpetuate the idea that parents are always at each others' throats. Sure, anyone who's ever spent more than a nanosecond on online forums could be forgiven for thinking so. But in my experience, this is nonsense.
For starters, the idea that I might have enough time and emotional energy to go around competing with anyone is laughable. All the women I've met through NCT classes, playgroups and so on have been friendly, supportive and sympathetic. I've never felt the need to hide the struggles I'm going through or pretend my child is more advanced than he is. In fact, if there is any competition, it's over who's got the filthiest Scummy Mummy Confession to share on our podcast this week.
Of course, this could just be because my child is so uniquely gifted I don't feel the need to compete. I don't want to show off, but let's just say I'm pleased they've lowered the age limit
5. Babies' farts are unbelievably loud.
Well, there you go. Those are the things I'd wish I'd known before I had my first child. If I had one piece of advice to offer above everything else, it would be this: ignore all advice. Every baby is different and so is every parent. You'll find out what works for you. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't worry. You're going to be fine.
By Ellie Gibson