You’ve jumped into this strange new world that is parenthood. There is now a very tiny human who depends on you….for everything! You might have read all the baby books out there, and yet still find yourself surprised with new things every day. For example, batteries. After you have a baby you will be surprised that you need batteries for everything. Baby monitors, swings, toys, your house now resembles an electronics store. To help guide you into this strange new world of parenthood, here are some things you wish you knew before having baby #1.
Odds are, you’ve been told many a horror story. When people find out you are pregnant they seem to love to bring up the absolute worst story they have ever heard about giving birth. You have probably been warned of the pain, and all of the strange things that can go wrong during labour. However, rest assured, it’s not actually that bad. It hurts, and yes, embarrassing things can happen during labour, but the absolute horror stories that you hear don’t really happen that often, and there’s no use in worrying about it. The fact is, if it hurts, you can get meds to help that. If something embarrassing happens (hello pooping yourself), the nurses have seen it all before and couldn’t care less, so why should you? Don’t let yourself get scared by Aunt Cheryl’s story of a 36 hour labour filled with screaming pain. It’s not that bad, and you will be ok.
13. Feeling Like Yourself
Everyone is different, and some women have no problem bouncing back to feeling like themselves after giving birth. However for a lot of women, it takes time. Your hormones are all over the place, you’re not getting as much sleep as you are used to, and there seems to be a million different responsibilities now that you have your baby with you. You may feel overwhelmed, confused, sad, or just “off.” That is ok. That is normal. You will feel better. So many Mom’s feel like they have to struggle in silence, because this is the happiest time of our lives right? We have our new precious baby and we should be joyful. Do not get down on yourself if it takes a few weeks or even months to get back to feeling like your normal self again. This is, of course, seperate from Postpartum Depression, which can affect up to 20% of new Moms. If you feel depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed go to your doctor or midwife for advice and help.
12. Love For Others
Any other adult that is in you and your baby’s life, you will love more than you thought possible pre baby. You will be surprised the level that your love can increase to when you are unshowered and exhausted, and your partner suddenly says, “you look like you could use a break, I’m going to take the baby for a little walk.” Your parents calling and asking, “hey, can we come over and watch the baby so you can get stuff done around the house?” will make your heart burst with love. You might have thought you loved your friends, but all of a sudden you are flabbergasted, because they came to meet the baby, but also brought you food and are CLEANING your house. All of these people that rally around to help you and your baby will be the lifeline that helps you feel happier and healthier.
11. You Don’t Need The Books
Your book shelf might be full of What To Expect When You’re Expecting, and other self help and pregnancy books. If these give you comfort, go forth and read! However if you think that you absolutely need to read all of the imperative information in these books, spoiler alert, you don’t. There is so much information packed into those books that you can feel overwhelmed. Things to expect, things you need, things to never do, things to always do, what to eat, what not to eat. The truth is, every baby is different, and every Mom is different. Snuggle your baby when it cries, change its diaper, feed it and you will be fine. Everything else you learn as it happens.
It’s you. You are the zombie, and you will be anywhere from 1-6 months. You can probably imagine getting up in the middle of the night to feed your baby, but the reality is always so much more tiring than you expected. If you’re lucky your baby will get up 2-3 times in the night, but sometimes it can be more. Sometimes your baby might just be crying, sometimes they are sick or colicky. Falling back to sleep once you’ve been woken up isn’t easy for a lot of people, and you need to mentally prepare yourself for that. Try not to plan too many day time activities or trips the first month after giving birth. If you can, try to have people come to you. If you are someone that can nap during the day, try and nap when the baby naps. Some families have even adopted a one week rule after giving birth. For one week, no visitors or family can come over. For one week you just snuggle and sleep with your baby and try to figure out their schedule. This isn’t possible for everyone, but is a good idea if you are feeling exhausted.
There will be 50% more crying in your house after giving birth, and it’s not coming from your baby. You will cry happy tears, sad tears, frustrated tears, and even confused tears. Seeing your baby hold onto your finger can send you into waterworks. Feeding your baby in the night but then 5 minutes later hearing them cry out again can send you into a tailspin of frustrated tears. Allow yourself to feel all the feels, and let the tears flow. It’s a good stress relief to get your emotions out, and is perfectly normal.
8. Breast Feeding
The nurse might come and check on you after you’ve given birth and congratulate you and let you know that you seem to have a “perfect latch” while your baby is breastfeeding. You smile and nod, and when she leaves break down in tears because it doesn’t feel perfect it HURTS. Breastfeeding is not easy, or seamless. It takes time, tears, and effort. You might struggle through for two weeks before it starts to feel easy, and that’s ok. If you are struggling at all, get help as soon as possible. A midwife, a lactation consultant, a friend or a Mom, all of these people are there if you need them to help. There are so many different things you can try to help you with breastfeeding, special herbs you can take, different latching techniques, or even pumping. On the off chance that breastfeeding doesn’t work for you medically, or for any other reason, DO NOT beat yourself over it. Formula feeding is a perfectly fine option as well.
Depending on where your friends are in the stages of their lives, you might lose some friends. And that’s ok. There won’t be huge blowouts, or a dramatic ending, rather a slow trickle of not seeing them as much, and less texting. This won’t happen with your close friends, but the fact is you won’t be able to go out as much, and thus won’t be seeing your friends with the regularity that you used to. Seeing friends will have to be heavily scheduled, and will start to depend on when you can get your baby to nap. Remember that this might be a change in your friendships, but that’s normal. Your close friends will still be there for you, and will understand that they won’t be able to see you as much as they used to.
6. Photo Albums
Your photo albums on social media pre baby might be titled “Vegas Baby!” or “Girls Weekend Booze Cruise!”. Now that you’ve had a baby, you will weirdly notice the names of your albums are now “Spring 2018” and “Fall 2018.” Why? Because you don’t have 40-60 photos of a wild weekend to fill up an album anymore. Your social media accounts are now going to have a ton of artsy (if you do say so yourself) shots of your baby, and not much else.
You can’t avoid it. It is going to happen. You’re shopping in Baby Gap and a lady walks over and remarks on how cute your baby boy is. When you tell her she’s a girl you get a very pointed, “WELL, she LOOKS like a boy!” Great. Now you are stewing with rage in Baby Gap. Your very well meaning mother looks over before you leave the house and says, “So are you going to keep trying until you have a boy?” Pick your battles. Don’t sumo attack the woman in Baby Gap, and calmly tell your mother that boy or girl doesn’t matter, healthy babies matter. Save your arguments or debates for the things that are non negotiable to you, like when your partner eats the last of the chocolate that you had hid and were planning on eating once the baby fell asleep.
Prepare yourself. You’re done breastfeeding, you’ve got someone to watch your baby and you are going OUT. Out with friends, real human adult friends! And you will be drinking. Adult alcoholic beverages. Be advised you cannot drink like you used to. You will get drunk faster than you thought possible, and for whatever reason, your hangover will be a million times worse than it ever used to be. In addition to that, you can’t just be hungover and eat fast food and watch movies all day. You have to get up and feed and take care of a child. It sucks.
3. Second Guessing
You will constantly second guess yourself. On everything. Whether or not you should be using disposable diapers, should you be making your own baby food, will you co sleep, what if you don’t hear the baby through the monitor, what if you are not a good parent? The bar is so high, that we constantly wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Try and cut yourself some slack. Did you keep your baby fed and clean for the day? Yes? Then you’re doing ok.
2. Weird Delights
You will revel in weird delights that you used to take for granted. Your parents are watching the baby? You might start with taking a shower. A very long shower. A shower that you don’t have to pop out of to make sure the baby is ok. You can then get in your car and turn your music up REALLY LOUD, and listen to the radio and any decibel that you feel like. You can take that car to the grocery store, where you can gleefully fill up your baby seat free cart with groceries. You don’t have to pause every few minutes to calm a fussy baby! You can peruse those avocados to your heart’s content!
1. Reliving Childhood
Once your baby has grown a bit you can start experiencing things with your child. Things that you forgot were actually magical, and joyful. Seeing your baby discover snow for the first time, or splashing in a puddle can let you relive the most joyful moments of childhood. Your child’s first time in a pool makes you realize how much fun swimming actually is. Taking your child to the beach makes it acceptable to build sandcastles again! Your child’s squeal of glee on their first run down a hill in a toboggan will fill your heart with joy. All of your childhood experiences and activities that you loved can be passed down to your child, and you will get to relive all of these precious moments with them.