Here’s the funny thing about having a baby.
Either you go into labour, or you’re forced into a c-section, or you happily decide to have your baby cut out, or for whatever personal reason, you decide to adopt (the method of getting there is really not important. The result is.) Eventually you leave with a little bundle, whose little fingers and toes are swaddled up tight with the prettiest baby blanket in your collection.
YOU ARE A MOM NOW.
The funny thing? We get home, settle the baby down for a nap, sit down and just cry.
Or alternative version, we’re walking around with a baby that just won’t sleep and cry and walk – learning to multi-task already. Or the directors cut, where you settle yourself into bed to feed said baby, but baby will do no such thing. Cue the tears while husband makes a quick exit stage right.
Not so funny is it?
Well as much as mothering is supposed to come naturally, the reality is that it takes us a while to get the hang of it.
I can almost guarantee you that at some point you will find yourself in a situation – that you never thought you’d find yourself in – and think to yourself, “Self, I’m sure no one ever told me about this!”
The truth is that maybe someone did tell you about it at some point, but either you were so far removed from having babies that you didn’t retain the info, or as most non-parents think ‘that won’t happen to me’ or maybe you really were not surrounded by pregnant people who were open enough to share this info with you.
So I’ll help you out.
Here are a bunch of things that no one told you about having a baby.
- There’s a chance of your “birth process” not going exactly how you want it to. I have had the privilege of birthing three children. Each and every one of these births were different, despite the fact that they were all pushed out the same way. (Check out the first, the second and the third). I’ve had friends who have desperately wanted a natural birth and instead they were rushed in for an emergency ceaser. It’s been hard for them to accept that this is what happened even though they are happy that they were blessed with a healthy baby thereafter. Guys, I can’t tell you how to feel, obviously, but no matter how you got that baby into the world is truly irrelevant, you are still every bit of a mother.
- Your hormones are so crazy that you wonder if you should be admitted into an asylum. Only half joking. Really though, statistically something like 98% of woman WILL have some form of baby blues after the birth of their child. This usually happens around day 3 or 4, most probably the day that you return home from the hospital. It’s pretty much a given that you will resemble that time that you watched the Notebook while snotting into a 100 tissues, but like, worse.
- No matter how much you wanted this baby, it doesn’t mean that you will bond with them straight away. This was hard for me. ALL I ever wanted to be was a Mom, but I didn’t immediately have that heart wrenching, stomach turning infatuated feeling for my child the moment I laid my eyes on her. Of course I loved her and felt an overwhelming need to protect her, but I didn’t have that bonded feeling until about two weeks later when I looked at her and burst into tears of love and affection. Hormones be crazy y’all. I also have friends who have waited even longer than that to bond with their kids like Maz and Sharon, so the time is variable and will probably be different from person to person.
- Sometimes you will dread doing things for/with your child. I don’t really know how to explain it, but you may find yourself dreading certain parts of your day. Like just thinking about what you have to do next makes your chest feel tight. Personally I went through a (long) phase where I dreaded pretty much everything. Feeding, burping, changing nappies, bathing and putting her to sleep. I think it’s pretty normal. OK, maybe not exactly. But apparently it happens often to many people. And depending on the severity of this anxiety and dread, depends on whether you need to seek additional help. In hindsight, I should have sought help.
- You will never have felt so alone! The just of it is this – you will probably feel the most alone that you have ever felt – even if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by a supportive partner, family and friends. There is something about being the Mom that makes you feel like only YOU are responsible for this little person and it can be overwhelming. The thing is YOU ARE NOT ALONE – I promise you. Whatever you are feeling or struggling with, I guarantee you there are 500 gazillion Moms out there who have felt the same way. Find a (small) group of Moms that you can connect with and share with, or if you need to do more than manage it with talking it out, find a good Doctor that can provide you with the medicine that you need to help you – THERE IS NO SHAME IN THIS!
- I’ll say it again, there is NO shame in getting help! Being thrown into this motherhood thing is like being like Jack and Rose out in the icy water – sometimes you manage to jump on top of the floating board and make it out alive like Rose, but other times you basically sink to the depths of the freezing ocean of parenthood. (Even though technically we know that they could both have made it out alive.) Let’s make sure that you are the one floating on the board, maybe even surfing on it.
- Breastfeeding does NOT come naturally. I mean yes, I get it. You have boobs and your baby has a mouth. But that’s about where the obviousness of the situation ends. I have friends who had no issues with feeding their baby from their milk producing bosoms, but that was not the case for me at all. OK, so maybe I cut half my boobs off, so it created more issues, but I have had friends with perfectly intact boobs, that have struggled too. I get the need to want to breastfeed your baby (because everyone will make you feel less of a Mom if you don’t). But here’s what I know, I formula fed each one of my kids and they still call me Mom and want me to wipe their butt. So ja. There’s that.
- Your tummy will not go back to it’s previous shape once you pop that baby out. Guys, seriously. Please don’t do yourself the disservice of looking at a Kardashian that happened to pop out a baby and then pose naked for a photo shoot a week later. Firstly eww. Secondly, photo shop. And thirdly – not real life! Here’s what happens to your tummy. It goes from being ginormous and taut to resembling jelly inside a deflated balloon. Plus it takes a ridiculously long time and a huge chunk of effort to lose the additional weight, even then you may never lose the deflated balloon look. That my friends, is real life.
- Sorry to break it to you, but your uh, womanly areas will also not return to normal either. All I’m going to say is that babies are bigger than the hole they come out of. Whether that’s through c-section or otherwise. Chances are you are going to have some stitches in uncomfortable places. And let’s not even talk about the boobs. OK granted, when your milk comes in you might rival Pamela Anderson for a few weeks, but once that baby decides they no longer want your free milk they will suddenly start rivaling your tummy for deflated balloon status. That or like, a very soft slide.
- Sexy time will probably be put on hold for, um, a while. So here’s the thing. After you have a baby your body will need to shed all the various intricacies that allowed that baby to grow inside your tummy. I think breast feeding affects it somewhat, but you could be riding the crimson wave for a fair bit – anywhere from 2 weeks to like 6 months. (I wish I was joking). And say you’re one of the lucky ones who manage to keep it to 2 weeks, you may be recovering from stitches and well, being a human cow just doesn’t make you feel very sexy. Not to mention the fact that you have probably only slept about 6 hours in the last three days, haven’t showered and smell slightly of stale vomit.
- Despite not wanting to have any “business time” with your partner, you need to make sure you keep some time open for them. Do you know how easy it is to get wrapped around those little baby fingers? Where they just make a murmur and you’re there, waiting to pick them up, feed them, kiss them, love them. You’re there for that little baby whenever he/she needs you to be. Which is a lot. Like 90% of your day. OK, OK, 99%. The last thing you want to do is have to look after your partner, especially when you feel like you’re not even looking after yourself. But it’s important. Yes, it’s a two way street and they need to do and feel the same with you, but it’s good to take a step back and make sure that you are not neglecting your relationship. You’re in this together. Remind them that you love them too.
- You totally CAN get pregnant while breastfeeding. Ask me. I know this. Because after three months of not being pregnant, suddenly I was pregnant again. So apparently sexy time in the first 3 months is not complete off the cards.
- No matter how solid your relationship is with your partner, you WILL fight. If it’s not about whose turn it is to make the bottle or wash the bottles or feed the baby or fetch the baby or change the nappy or put the baby to sleep. It’s about how many times you got up in the night. Suddenly you start counting the amount of times you got up vs the amount of times they did and then nudge them and say something along the lines of, “I’ve been up basically all night, it’s your turn to go fetch your child” in only a slightly passive aggressive way. Seriously though, the chances are that you’ll fight about something. No doubt. Sleep deprivation can make even the most rational of people tinker on the border of shaving all their hair off ala Britney. But what’s important is to make up afterwards and apologise.
- You will never have known this kind of tiredness before. I know, I know. Before you became a parent you had your wild nights out where you stayed out till morning and then only got 1 hours sleep before attending lectures at Uni. (Or at least that’s what I’ve heard the cool kids did). But let me tell you, there is something remarkably different about this kind of sleep. You have NO control over when you wake or sleep. None. There is something uniquely tiring about being at the beck and call of a little person. It has something to do with only getting about a hour at a time of unbroken sleep, but also the bits of anxiety that combine to produce a leaking milk zombie. There is no cure for this tiredness, except maybe about 4 years of growth on the part of your child. Sorry.
- We’re not making up this “Mommy Guilt” thing. You’ve heard the term I’m sure, but you were like, “Ja whatever, I won’t feel bad about taking out time for myself“. This is all said on account of the fact that you currently have no children. Enter said child which comes with a practical application that goes along the lines of this: You are desperate for a little time to be by yourself. Desperate. So desperate that you start resenting your husband for having the luxury of being able to go out and work. So desperate that as soon as your partner gets home, you basically throw the baby in his face the moment he walks in the door, run to the bathroom and lock yourself in there for a nice, long hot bath. Except now that you get in, you feel like the worst mother in the World for wanting to be away from your child and so you end up spending the time in the bath crying at how bad of a mother you are and that your child will be emotionally scarred for ever. Does it make sense? Nope. Does it happen anyway? Yup.
- You’ll feel like you’re getting it all wrong, and that everyone else knows what they’re doing, except you of course. No matter how many books you read, or actually because of how many books you read, you will always feel like you aren’t doing it right. The fact is, you’re probably doing a great job. Keeping them fed, dressed, healthy, clean, rested and sheltered takes a lot of work, not to mention the 5 minutes you get to do the same for yourself. Don’t get caught up in feeling less than, focus on making it through each minute as it comes and doing what you feel is right for your baby.
- There’s a difference between support/advice and people that think they know it all. So you joined one of those Mommy groups on Facebook, you know the ones I’m talking about. Where people ask other Mothers questions that they should actually be asking Doctors and where there’s an undercurrent of comparison and judgement. Let me help you out here. Leave the group. Or mute it or something. If you need help or advice, seek out a friend or family member whose opinion you trust and ask them. Very rarely will shouting out on Facebook actually help you. If anything, with so many uninformed opinions, you’ll end up feeling more confused. Join the groups again when you are feeling more confident about where you’re at.
I’d love to know what you struggled with as a first time Mom. Did you share any of the feelings that I had?