They’re a massive contradiction aren’t they? Filled with such a variety of emotions. Excitement. Fear. Anticipation. Anxiety. Hope.
But most of all they’re unique and amazing for the fact that you can never repeat them. Ever. So they’re also usually wrapped up in a layer of nostalgia that multiplies as the years pass. And ends up as a massive pass the parcel.
I’m not sure any other first time parallels the first time that you give birth and become a mother. Or illustrates such an extreme combination of feelings. After all, what’s not to fear about pushing a small person out of your nether regions? It’s hardly a first time anyone would voluntarily sign up for, ‘Roll Up, Roll Up…’
But the anticipation and hope far outweighs any anxiety. A brand new person can do that for you.
Being pregnant for the first time is like having an invisible bodyguard. Largely, you’re treated differently because you’re delicate and to be protected. Of course, it might be more a case of others walking on eggshells because you’re a hormonal time bomb. But who cares, it has the same effect. You get looked after more than you do when you’re not pregnant. You look after yourself more than you ever will again.
And if all goes well, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, which compares to the adrenalin rush of getting through labour, which let’s be honest is nothing short of a trauma. If you experienced the same level of pain for any other reason, you’d be in recovery for a very long time. Or dead.
That moment when you get to hold your baby and, more crucially the pain stops, is like no other. Time stops still. And despite looking like you’ve gone ten rounds with Tyson (if you’re lucky, I looked more like I’d gone twenty), you feel a bit like a celebrity. Your other half certainly thinks you’re a celebrity if he hasn’t passed out from shock or sleep deprivation. Now’s the time that you feel like you can achieve and survive anything. Sky-diving without a parachute? Bring it on.
That’s all before the hunger sets in. More extreme than any post-partying munchies session. You want carbs and lots of them. Toast will do. Pizza would be nice. Or ‘yes, I could probably manage a curry.’ Once out of hospital (unless you’re in a really posh one) you get to indulge in all the foods that have been forbidden. Paté, rare fillet steak, gorgonzola all washed down with a large glass (bottle?) of Shiraz. ‘Hey, I’ll even have a raw egg just for the hell of it.’ Because those things never taste as good as they do after nine months of abstinence.
Yes, it’s a special time. It’s the reason lots of us were wistfully looking at Kate Middleton as she presented her new baby boy to the world from the steps of the Lingo Wing. And it wasn’t because she’d given birth to a future king.
In that moment, we knew exactly how the Duchess was feeling. We saw the vulnerability in her eyes. The emotion. And yes, of course, we marvelled at her marvellous hair. Every second of our first times came flooding back, like they were yesterday. We remembered exactly how we felt (and how we looked) when we left hospital for that first night at home. Happy and a little bit terrified. Probably partially terrified by how we looked.
It’s a powerful feeling and strangely addictive. There are women who crave that first-time feeling again and again, desperate for their next new baby ‘hit.’ I wonder sometimes if I might be one of them or whether I just need to have a third and that will cure it.
But really it’s a futile effort.
Because as we all know only too well, there just ain’t nothing like the first time.