Pre-birth ideals versus post-birth reality

Tired mother with toddler driving a car over her prone body

Could there be a greater chasm than the one between our expectations of life with a baby and the warts-and-all reality? Asda asked Mumsnetters to share the differences between their pre-birth ideals and their actual experiences

Ideal: "It won't change me. I will just fit the baby around my life."

Ideal: "It won't change me. I will just fit the baby around my life."

Reality: “14 years on we are just about managing to see pre-children friends again.”

Ideal: “My son will never play with guns.”

Ideal: “My son will never play with guns.”

Reality: “My son now has two boxes full of guns. He LOVES guns.”

Ideal: “That you'd fall in love the moment you gave birth.”

Ideal: “That you'd fall in love the moment you gave birth.”

Reality: “It felt like I'd been hit by a train. I was knackered and emotional. It took me around four months to start having feelings of love. They are so entrenched now, but in those early days I was worried I was a crap mum.”

Ideal: “There will be no TV at meal times.”

Ideal: “There will be no TV at meal times.”

Reality: “Both kids are currently watching CBeebies whilst (supposedly) eating their dinner.”

Ideal: “Toys would be minimal and easy to pop away at naptimes and at night.”

Ideal: “Toys would be minimal and easy to pop away at naptimes and at night.”

Reality: “My house looks like some sort of hoarder's dream house.”

Ideal: “A lovely calm water birth, with only gas and air. I had done hypnobirthing and it was going to be wonderful.”

Ideal: “A lovely calm water birth, with only gas and air. I had done hypnobirthing and it was going to be wonderful.”

Reality: “When I went into labour I was begging for an epidural 'or just stuff me with any drugs'. I even offered to pay a nurse to beat me round the head with anything that would knock me out.”

Ideal: “Before parenthood, I thought it was a matter of getting a baby used to a bit of background noise and then they would happily nap through whatever.”

Ideal: “Before parenthood, I thought it was a matter of getting a baby used to a bit of background noise and then they would happily nap through whatever.”

Reality: “Two babies in and I understand that their capacity to wake up at the slightest sound is ENDLESS. They wake up if a mouse breathes three houses away.”

Ideal: “I had planned to leave hospital in my pre-pregnancy clothes, looking fantastic.”

Ideal: “I had planned to leave hospital in my pre-pregnancy clothes, looking fantastic.”

Reality: “Post-birth, I looked like I had been dragged through a hedge by a bulldozer and was wearing the biggest knickers I had ever laid eyes on.”

Ideal: “They would just eat what we eat.”

Ideal: “They would just eat what we eat.”

Reality: “They're teenagers now and I'm still cooking at least two different meals every night!”

Ideal: “My kids won't have TV in their bedrooms.”

Ideal: “My kids won't have TV in their bedrooms.”

Reality: “All three have TVs in their bedrooms and I have a peaceful life.”

Ideal: “Having a baby wouldn't affect my relationship with my husband, it would enhance it.”

Ideal: “Having a baby wouldn't affect my relationship with my husband, it would enhance it.”

Reality: “After the baby we were just two sleep-deprived zombies who happened to share a house.”

Ideal: “My husband insisted before our daughter was born that he would definitely be making all of her baby food from scratch as ‘you can't trust what they put in the jars’.”

Ideal: “My husband insisted before our daughter was born that he would definitely be making all of her baby food from scratch as ‘you can't trust what they put in the jars’.”

Reality: “The blender he bought is still sitting pristine in the box two years later.”

Ideal: “I was going to start my own business during maternity leave as I wouldn't have anything else to do.”

Ideal: “I was going to start my own business during maternity leave as I wouldn't have anything else to do.”

Reality: “My son barely slept during the first six months. I remember the first time I was able to cook and eat beans on toast with no interruptions and feeling like I'd climbed Everest.”

Ideal: “We were going to renovate our entire house once we got through the first few weeks and ‘everything settled down’.”

Ideal: “We were going to renovate our entire house once we got through the first few weeks and ‘everything settled down’.”

Reality: “Four years later one room has been painted. I think we must have the only house in our road that has gone down in value.”

Ideal: “I thought I would be the boss.”

Ideal: “I thought I would be the boss.”

Reality: “They own me. Little benevolent dictators darlings.”

Of course there's always the other approach

Of course there's always the other approach

“I had no hopes or expectations while pregnant because thinking about the fact I was going to have a baby made me s**t myself in terror. It was an excellent strategy.”

And in case we've put you off having children ENTIRELY

Ideal: “Me happily holding my beautiful baby for the first time, studying their face and feeling like I've seen it a thousand times before, already. Feeling a rush of love so strong it makes me weep, and feeling similar for the man across the room who went on this journey with me."

And in case we've put you off having children ENTIRELY

Post-birth reality: “Exactly that.”