I didn’t use to know what a "mucus plug" was. Sadly, that blissful lack of biological and anatomical awareness came to an abrupt end when both my little sisters went and started having babies (two each, four total — and they’re only 25).
They got that "glow," luckily side-stepped morning sickness, and, despite the 18 months of life experience I have on them, got straight down to sharing terrifying, graphic details: cracked nipples, mucus plugs, and scary primordial stuff — like how you can love your child so much you might just eat them. They don’t teach that stuff in sex ed.
You’ll worry about losing them a helluva lot.
I got ambushed the first time my sister got pregnant. She locked me in the car and blurted out the news in a panic. When my other sister announced hers, she joined forces with my mom, cornered me in an Italian restaurant and then burst into tears.
The shock factor is unbelievable, the bump itself impossibly weird (like a burrowing alien), the fear of losing your sister(s) to muslin squares and diaper chat? Debilitating.
And then the awe and exponential love kicks in, and suddenly you’re preventing them from walking on the road side of the sidewalk, get obsessed with how many vegetables they’re eating, and start arguing with strangers about teenage pregnancy.
It’s OK to be jealous of their kids sometimes.
Having a baby, apparently, endows you with superhuman powers. My sisters both gave birth without painkillers. None. At all. One of them even went out for a burrito while already in the early bit of labor. They are baby-making machines raising actual human beings, and it’s so impressive that your own achievements (going for a swim, getting a promotion), seem pretty lame in comparison.
Then you get this solid ache in your chest that comes from missing them and wanting their attention over the blob in the stroller. (Don’t wallow, it passes. Sniff the baby; it helps.)
You suddenly have more than one mom.
And they’re all subconsciously battling it out in the protective instinct stakes to be matriarch #1. Sometimes it’s fantastic — they all want to feed you and there are numerous people to calm you down when the sheer amount of pink and blue plastic in Toys R Us is making your brain wobble dangerously.
Other times you feel about seven years old and wish your sisters were still just sisters and you could just fight over the TV remote again.
You don’t automatically get super moody.
People assume just being in the same room as a baby — any baby, related or not — is enough to set your ovaries a-whirring. They coo, "Don’t you want one?" and raise eyebrows when you hand the baby back with an, "I’m alright, thanks."
Just because your flesh and blood have, erm, created more flesh and blood, doesn’t mean you suddenly want to skip out on your career, cancel after-work drinks, and sign up for years of emotional turmoil and 5 a.m. feedings.
You still coo — my sisters make pretty awesome babies — but then you go back to your Lego-free home. Easy.
No matter how cool your boyfriend/partner/husband is, he will be terrified.
Moody or not, there’s nothing funnier than coming home from visiting new baby number four, sitting down next to your boyfriend and saying, "I want one," and watching his eyeballs pulsate with sheer terror for five to six seconds. It’s deliciously cruel and doesn’t get old.
Sure, I might have to ditch him if I get the same response circa the one time I actually mean it, but right now it’s kinda fun to cry wolf.
"You need to have a baby by 30," is a phrase that gets thrown at you a lot.
You’d think having three nephews and a niece would take the pressure off somewhat. Grandchildren have been produced, the family name has not been let down, and my womb has gotten away stretch-mark free. Applause all around.
And yet, when I was single at 25 the party line was, "You’ve got years before you need to get knocked up. Kiss everyone!"
Move in six months later with a nice boy who has straight teeth and all his own hair? "HAVE A BABY. TICK-TOCK. YOUR OVARIES ARE WITHERING."
Motherhood makes people really crazy sometimes.
See above (tick-tock). It’s very irritating, and if a boss or stranger did the same I’d lose it — but with sisters? You’ve gotta file it under a loving kind of selfishness, and then remind them of all the child-free holidays you’re going on because it serves them right.
The thing is, they can love you and support you, but what they really want is for you to all be together, in one place, doing the same stuff at the same time. In an ideal world, my sisters would have us in terraced houses and our kids would grow up side by side.
I’m condemning them to become much older aunties than they want to be — and they don’t appreciate it.
But they still love you just the same.
If not more. Having a baby makes your heart go into overdrive. When I had appendicitis, my sister was so worried the doctors would mess up and whip my ovaries out as well as my appendix that she refused to text or call to find out how I was doing. Slightly mental, yes. Anatomically incorrect, indeed. But, in a backward kind of way, incredibly sweet.
Once I was all sewn back up and safely home she admitted she was so anxious that she’d decided if something had gone horribly wrong and I couldn’t make my own small people, she’d have my babies for me. If that’s not crazy, wonderful, nonsensical, elemental love, I don’t know what is.
This post was written by Ella Walker. For more, check out our sister site The Debrief.