I am sad to say that this will be my last Women2Day column for a good few months as I prepare to start my maternity leave.

I can honestly say that writing this page has been one of the best parts of my job over the past five years, and during this time, I’m proud to have been able to explore a range of different issues affecting women.

But it goes without saying that by the time I return next year, I will come back with an shed load of new topics to write about for this page, and certainly, a whole new perspective on life.

Because I have been warned by almost everyone I’ve spoken to about this how much life will change ‘beyond recognition’ when I become a parent – complete with wagging finger in some cases.

I have been given more baby advice than you can shake a stick at – from being careful not to show the baby too much love for fear of spoiling them to rubbing their gums with expensive whisky to stop tantrums.

I have memorised my stock replies to the questions I get asked about 12 times a day down to an absolute tee. (“Middle of July, we know what it is but we’re keeping it to ourselves, yes, the nursery’s finished, no, we’ve kept it gender-neutral.”)

I’ve smiled and nodded patiently at the frequent observations like: “Not long now, you look ready to pop,” and ‘Get plenty of rest now because you won’t get chance when that baby’s born.’

The fact is, however much people try and prepare you for motherhood, until you experience it, nobody knows what it’s actually going to be like.

You can have 100% prepared yourself by buying all the baby stuff you’ll ever need and reading every parenting book out there and it will still hit you like a ton of bricks. Just because your body is capable of giving birth to a baby doesn’t mean you’ll have any clue about what to do with that baby when he/she is born.

As Diane Sanford, co-author of the book Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide, new motherhood brings an enormous sense of responsibility. “You’re also exhausted, which makes everything nerve-racking.”

Yet as soon as the most tiring and painful period you’ll ever experience in your life is over, you’re given a brand new baby to look after – just when you could really do with a week-long nap.

So I am trying my best to approach motherhood with an open mind, but I am also fully expecting the following:

  • Getting irritated at annoying super mums who give birth and then appear a few days later, back in their skinny jeans, in full make-up, holding a freshly-baked cake, while stitching a cushion cover and simultaneously teaching their child French
  • Being permanently covered in sick and poo
  • Considering a day when I’ve had a shower and dress myself a successful day
  • Wearing my maternity jeans weeks after giving birth and wondering why I haven’t lost weight as I eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut
  • Frantically searching Google and Babycentre in the middle of the night
  • Being eternally grateful for two consecutive hours of sleep

An artist called Sarah Walker once wrote that becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live.

Because a lot of things do change, of course, but for new mums, some of the biggest differences are also the most intimate ones, like the emotional ones.

So I am certainly not expecting it to be easy. And I’m not expecting it to go smoothly.

But one piece of advice that everyone does tend to agree on when they talk to me, is that having a child brings inestimable joy and fulfilment.

So I will be holding on to that advice in the coming months during the many sleepless nights sporting sick-covered nighties.

In the meantime, thanks for reading and see you next year. PS: Don’t forget about me!