Ten things about motherhood that surprised me(If you are pregnant -- please read!)
There are several things I can think of that I wish I would have known about being a mom. Mostly because I was unprepared for them. Here are just a few. The second baby will be so much easier now that I know the truth ....
- I turned into sleep Nazi. I have, more than once, used the reflective darkened screen of my cell phone to look at my baby over my shoulder or arm to see if she is asleep, because I was so afraid to move her and wake her up. I have also actually had violent visions of what I would like to do to the guy outside my door who decided to start up a leaf blower right when my baby finally went down for a nap.
- Speaking of sleep, most newborns do not sleep the way the powers that be tell you they should to be "safe." Especially if you are nursing, do your research. The whole anti-co-sleeping and "back to sleep" campaign is mostly for young mothers who smoke and drink and have premature babies. I am not even close to being in that demographic. I never in a million years would have expected I would co-sleep pre-baby, but if I hadn't, neither of us would have gotten any sleep, like AT ALL. I feel sorry for myself looking back at those first couple of weeks trying to get my baby to bed in the way I was told. Both of us were so miserable, but I just didn't know any better. Most moms do not admit to going against these "safe sleep rules" until you tell them what you are doing, and then they say they did it too (this has happened to me five or six times talking to other moms). It's really sad that moms have to be shamed into silence to do what is totally biologically normal for babies and moms to do.
- I have spent more time talking about poop - it's color, texture, consistency, frequency, faces and sounds made when it comes out, etc., than I ever imagined.
- Having a newborn baby seems to be an invitation for complete strangers (mostly older ladies) to talk to you, and share everything about their former babies and grandbabies. We have actually been held up and late places more than once because of this, or unable to look at a menu and pick a meal because of people talking to us in line. I thought being pregnant in public was bad, but this is much worse! One weird guy in a furniture store actually told me I wasn't holding her right!
- # 4 Part Two: I had to learn to ignore most of what older women say. They will tell you to put a hat on a baby or cover a baby's arm up -- in 80 degree weather, when your baby is sweating. They will tell you to give whiskey to your baby to calm her, let her cry because it's "good for her lungs," or give her bottles of water to fill her stomach and stretch out her feedings, etc. Once I was even told my baby would get an ear infection from a slight breeze (again, in warm weather). As a new mom it is easy to feel bad or incompetent when these women tell you what to do. But I've found upon looking these things up that 99.9% of it is just old wives' tales: Outdated, wrong, and most of the time really unsafe information! Trust your instincts and always do your homework.
- I have actually come to enjoy breastfeeding now and it's virtually painless - BUT, the first two months it was that toe-curling, sharp-breath type of pain every single time she latched (10-12 times a day). The first week after birth, breastfeeding also causes uterine contractions that, for me, were more painful than the actual childbirth contractions. I remember sitting up in the hospital in the middle of the night breastfeeding, feeling like my whole body was on fire and I could scream. I understand why so many women quit now. All the books say 'if it hurts, you must have an improper latch.' That is BS. Most of the time her latch was fine. You will bleed and scab and suffer, at first. It will get better.
- My doctor did not have all the answers. Sometimes he/she is as clueless as you. Raising a baby is largely a matter of theory, advice from people you trust, trial and error, and which methodology you believe in.
- The majority of toys, seats, bouncers, etc. that I got at my shower I was unable to use for at least the first two months of my baby's life. I just didn't know that. I never understood how moms would say it was hard to find time to shower, until I had a newborn. She rarely took long, consistent naps, and I had nothing to set her in, except the bassinet, which she hated with a vengeance. Until they get some head/torso control, you will be doing a lot of holding your baby. I learned how to fold laundry, open and eat a banana, and many other tasks one-handed. I waited until my husband got home to shower. And let's just say there will be times you will have to go to the bathroom while holding your baby. It's a learned skill :)
- My body was NOT healed in six weeks. I could get into more detail here but I will spare you. Just don't plan on being the same "you" and being able to do the things you did pre-baby, by six weeks.
- Maternity leave is not a vacation-like break from work. Don't make any big plans. I made the mistake of thinking I would use the time to learn how to sew. Ha!!!
- To be more clear, cancel your magazine subscriptions. You won't have time to read them.
When I was telling a friend how little time I had to do get things done around the house anymore, she said "that's because you have to do things in 8-minute increments." That was the absolute best way I'd heard anyone describe it. You literally have about 8 minutes every now and then to do the things you need to do. (with a newborn -when they get older you get longer naps).
Boy did I learn how to time manage those eight minutes! No more lolly-gagging around here : )