Breaking news: Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z have had a baby. You probably haven’t heard about it yet, as it’s all been very, er, low key and kept under the radar. But yes, on Saturday 7th January 2012, they had a baby girl and called her Blue Ivy.
A couple of days later, they released a statement to the world’s press:
Hello Hello Baby Blue! We are happy to announce the arrival of our beautiful daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, born on Saturday, January 7, 2012. Her birth was emotional and extremely peaceful, we are in heaven. She was delivered naturally at a healthy 7 lbs and it was the best experience of both of our lives. We are thankful to everyone for all your prayers, well wishes, love and support
– Beyoncé & JAY Z
The statement prompted me to wonder whether people really mean this kind of thing, days after giving birth, or whether it’s just part of The Big Baby Lie™.
What is The Big Baby Lie™?
The Big Baby Lie is what I call the apparent cover-up of (whispers) what it’s really like to give birth and look after a newborn baby. Just by acknowledging its existence, I’m risking being asked to leave my local Monkey Music class and being shunned by all the other mums from the soft play centre.
Plenty of mums subscribe to, and spread, The Big Baby Lie. You probably know a few yourself – they say things like “I just used gas & air, and I didn’t really feel anything – then suddenly, baby Harry was here!” or “I treasure the 3am night feeds – just being close to my baby is bliss.”
While I’m willing to accept that some women are lucky enough to have quick births, some use hypnobirthing techniques and some are in touch with their inner zen, I’d place money on the fact that most women have a birth they’d rather forget and feel so ravaged by tiredness and hormones in the first few weeks of being a mummy, they spend a lot of time in tears.
And The Big Baby Lie makes it all feel 80% worse. Women wonder why they’re struggling with their newborn, when the impression they get from so many of their friends and celebrities is that it’s a time to be treasured.
Yes, celebrities have a lot to answer for. Never mind the fact they PING back into their size 6 skinny jeans within weeks of having a baby. Using language like Beyoncé and Jay Z did in their press statement makes me want to hit myself repeatedly on the head with a Makka Pakka stuffed toy.
“Emotional” OK, I can see how it would be emotional. How could it not be? After nine months of anticipation (and potentially months/years of trying to conceive before that) meeting your baby is always going to be emotionally charged.
“Extremely peaceful” Really Beyonce? Peaceful like when you’re sitting on a beach, listening to the waves lap at the shore, with the odd seagull overheard and the warm sun on your face?
“We are in heaven” Blimey, I’m well jel. A few days after becoming a mummy, I was in a constant confused state. How do I get this vest on her? Should she wear a vest and a babygrow? Is jaundice normal? How often should she be feeding? Is she actually getting any milk? When will this lack of sleep END? Why am I crying SO MUCH?
Thank goodness, then, for celebs who tell it how it is. Miranda Kerr, you may have returned to your Victoria Secret-wearing-Orlando-Bloom-boffing body remarkably quickly, but respect to you for saying this about your son’s birth: “I actually thought I was going to die at one point and left my body. I was looking down on myself, the pain was so intense. I kept thinking, ‘How do women do this?’ But if other women have done this, I can do it too. I was determined.”
Women who spread The Big Baby Lie probably think they’re doing mums-to-be a favour. ‘If we don’t tell them of the horrors ahead, that’s better, right?’ Which I can kind of understand, but my overriding feeling as a mum of a two-week-old was ‘Oh my GOD, why did NO-ONE tell me?’
So here it is, mums-to-be. I’m telling it to you straight. Giving birth is AWFUL. Being a mum to a newborn is HIDEOUS. But it doesn’t matter, because you’ll get through it, it’s worth it, and you’ll likely do it again (and possibly again). Babies and kids are ace. Being a mum is (on the whole) the most amazing thing ever. Just do it. And then tell all your friends what it was really like.