16th May 2018

Groundhog mat leave: Conversations you have every day on the mum circuit

Caroline Corcoran would like you to know that she used to be an interesting person who did not chat about her washing…

It dawned on me recently – ten minutes into Twinkle Twinkle in baby French if we’re looking for specifics – that I have a lot of the same conversations at the moment. It’s partly sleep-deprivation, partly just that life does get kind of samey with a newborn and partly that – especially if you’re meeting up with new mums you’ve found on Mush – you are kind of mum-dating so you’re in the circuit of small talk. Turn up at some baby groups near me and you’ll hear me churning out these beauties…

How much washing we do now we have a baby

“I don’t know how he can make so much, he’s only tiny!” I’ll chirp, and then go in with one of my riveting follow-ups about fabric conditioner/ the quality of an M&S vest/ how I’m not fully sure the babycare cycle is necessary and it is at that point I know that it’s definitely time for me to resume normal life and/ or just stop speaking to these poor, poor women who are looking at me like “Is she off again about the washing?”

How time’s going so fast

To be clear, we all know that time’s moving at the same pace it did before our child was born but we’re very tired and there are five minutes until the farmyard songs start so we’ve just gone for an easy option.

Related: how long it is until you go back to work

I’m not sure why I keep asking people, because they told me last week and the week before and it probably isn’t something they want to think about every second of every day but it just keeps coming out.

How sleep’s going

“How’s sleep going?” I’ll ask, even though my baby group mate probably wants to punch me in the face because sleep is not going well, thanks, and she’s already had that conversation (interspersed with Wind The Bobbin Up) with six other people this morning.

Why you feed how you feed

Generally, if you’re a mum and I meet you in Mum World, I will have told you about my baby’s tongue tie and my subsequent low milk supply within about 20 minutes of meeting you and definitely by the time I whip out the Aptamil. I could tell you a lot of detail about the contents of the breasts/ bottles of the other mothers I meet too because we all have the same unnecessary/ ridiculous guilt about whatever we’re doing which makes me quite mad.

How we don’t judge

“I know it’s terrible,” someone said to me when she told me she was doing controlled crying in desperation after months of sleepless nights and about six of us started speaking in unison. “Hey, whatever gets you through!” came the rallying cries of the rest of the table, through mouths loaded with carrot cake. “I would never judge!” came the rest as they gulped coffee. We all feel the – often imaginary – judgement so much that we are very, very keen to point out: we don’t judge.

How the cake months must stop soon

See previous point. We enter the coffee shop, en masse with prams, effusively thanking the man who holds the door open and apologising to the woman with her laptop who was hoping to get any work done in the next hour and looks like she wants to pummel us and look at the menu. We all order cake because we are so very tired and cake will make us ever so slightly less tired and also because there is a kind of cult around cake on maternity leave – probably because it’s slightly frowned upon to take your baby to the pub on a Wednesday at 11am. But then we will spend the next half hour talking about how we must stop eating so much cake because this is the strange rule of maternity leave.

The Birth

It’s like when they give you that injection to speed the placenta up they also stick in some sort of truth drug where you just want to go around telling every mum mate you make – or mum acquaintance you speak to for 30 seconds before baby group – the minutiae of your labour. Then again, nothing bonds you like a detailed description of your vaginal stitching.

@cgcorcoran @mushmums

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