Dear HRH Kate, Duchess of Cambridge,
Huge congratulations on the birth of your son! You must be thrilled! Quite apart from securing the future of the monarchy you might now be able to see your own feet for the first time in weeks (for the rest of us it is normally months!). You can actually bend over to pick something up off the floor without going down sideways, like an air hostess trying not to show her underwear. And at last, you can tuck into a large plate of sushi, some weepingly stinking cheese, a plate of chicken liver pate and have a large slurp of red wine.
Your body has finally become your own again! You are no longer simply a vessel, which people have been allowed to prod, poke and patronise. You might even get your own name back. Eventually. Sometime soon. I promise you one day the doctors will stop referring to you as ‘mum.’ But before they do, you will endure at least another year of: “And how’s mum?” “Is mum sleeping?” “Is mum breast feeding?” “How are mum’s nipples?” “Has mum opened her bowels?” Questions not even Carole is allowed, or wants to ask, but somehow you’ll find yourself still having to share with a stranger.
However now that you are ‘the other side’ I would, as someone who has recently been there, like to share with you a few tips (I know! Despite my obviously ancient decrepit age, you’ll be shocked to know that I too have a rather small child, well, 3-years-old).
Firstly, do please avoid the temptation to snap back into shape as quickly as possible and pipe yourself like cream into your skinny jeans. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Avoid the temptation to do too much too soon. Very tiny babies are very sweet, they barely cry and sleep for hours. Hunker down, eat some cake and enjoy the best bit while you can.
Secondly, do try and avoid buying all the rubbish. My loft is now full of endless bits of plastic tat that I thought were essential at the time. A top and tailer? A bowl split in two for face-water and bottom-water = utterly useless, impractical and what was I thinking? A nappy bin? How many filthy fetid nappies do you want twisted up like a stinking snake slowly steaming away in your baby’s bedroom? Baby shoes? They can’t walk. They don’t like wearing them and more importantly they’ll lob one out of the pram as soon as you look away. Don’t buy them. Don’t buy the silly Bugaboo, you can’t collapse it without ruining your French polish. Don’t buy half the stuff. Although these very smart Tweezerman Baby Manicure Kits , £28, are obviously completely adorable and a must-have. You see, this baby tat, it is addictive!
Thirdly, just get ready for the guilt. It will come in all shapes and guises and will be hurled at you from all corners. In fact everything you do from now on as a mother will almost inevitably be wrong, and not only will you question your every decision but so will everyone else. To Gina Ford or not to Gina? A dummy or not to dummy? Eco nappies or not eco nappies? You will be judged in an entirely arbitrary fashion on all of these choices.
And finally once you’ve had one baby no matter how small and pink it still actually is, everyone will at some point ask you when you’re going to have another one. Not that it is any of their business, but you are probably used to people asking impertinent questions by now.
Oh one last thing – try not to cough and sneeze at the same time and whatever you do, no matter how religious you are about your exercises (and I imagine you will be) – don’t even so much as look a trampoline in the eye again.
P.S. Can I recommend my very good friend Daisy Waugh’s book on the subject? I Don’t Know Why She Bothers – a useful and edifying tome if ever there was one.