I’ve read many perspectives on motherhood. After years of reading Mommy blogs and having a few friends with babies, I thought I’d heard it all in terms of what to expect. I was wrong. You’re bound to be shocked by some element of parenthood. Here are a few things no one told me about motherhood…
It’s hard on your clothes. I always knew I’d do a lot of laundry once we had a baby. I wrongly assumed that most of those clothes and blankets would be Ben’s. Turns out, having a baby who spits up a lot means that even if burp cloths abound, it’s gonna get on your clothes sometimes (read: at least once a day). So yeah, a lot of the laundry is Ben’s. But a whole hell of a lot of it is mine or N’s. I wash everything on gentle now just because I’m fearful even my best clothes won’t last long.
That one rule you never thought you’d break? Well, you just might. I worked in a children’s hospital for years and am more than familiar with safe to sleep practices for infants. That said, our guy slept in the dock-a-tot in the bassinet more than a few nights. Cringe. I knew when I was doing it that it went against everything I’d learned but I just couldn’t figure out a single way that he could have suffocated and it was one of the only places he’d sleep besides our arms.
How breastfeeding feed timing works is not at all how you think it does. I always assumed that if a baby eats every 2-3 hours, that means that you get 2-3 hours between each feeding to do stuff. Not so. The timer for breastfeeding starts at the start of the feeding. Meaning if you start feeding the baby at noon, your next feeding is probably no later than 3pm. If you have a slow eater (like I do) who also eats every 2 hours, this could mean that you start feeding him at noon, finish at 12:30pm and by 2pm, you’re feeding him again. It’s hard to get much done in those 1.5 long blocks of time. Plus he’s usually fussy as he gets closer to being hungry so the last 20 minutes are usually shot too.
It’s not the sleep deprivation that’ll get you, it’s the back pain. N and I both agree that we thought we’d be more sleep deprived than we actually are. I know Ben is a pretty good sleeper but even when we had to wake him up every 3 hours in the night (more on life with a preemie here), we still were pretty functional. A huge part of that was probably that N got 8 weeks of paternity leave.
What we didn’t anticipate was that when you hold a baby, you always lean back just a little. We both do this when we are using the Ergobaby or Solly Baby wrap too. Sometimes by the end of the day, our backs are killing us. I also feel like generally it’s hard to maintain good posture when holding a baby so I’ll realize that I kind of stuck my hip or stomach out to create a sort of ledge with my body for him to sit on.
If you’re a sound sleeper, you might still be. I was always a super sound sleeper. Everyone told me that once I had a baby, that would go away. Well, it kind of hasn’t. Sure, I wake up when Ben cries but I don’t wake up for his every wiggle, grunt, or sigh. Actually when N was on paternity leave, there were a few nights where I slept straight through the crying and N got up and changed him and then woke me up to feed him. Ben sleeps literally 2 feet from me, in a bassinet at my bedside. I worried that my maternal instincts were not what they should be but honestly, I’m doing okay in most aspects of parenthood so I guess I’m just a sound sleeper.
You might be more confident than you realize. I remember Mom friends telling me that they called the pediatrician five times in the first week. I have never called the pediatrician. Maybe it’s because we got more training in the NICU. I don’t know. But we know our kid better than the pediatrician does and frankly, I’ve just never had any major concerns about Ben or about us as parents. So if you’re one of those Moms who doesn’t google everything and generally thinks things are going just fine, that’s probably a sign that it is.
You might not love your dog any less. In fact, you might love him more. I know lots of people say that they love their dog less or “it’s just not the same” with the dog after you have kids. This just isn’t true for me.
The only time I’ve been truly annoyed with Archie since Ben arrived is when I was having night sweats postpartum and he kept trying to lay up against me (as he does every night) and his hair was sticking to me and I was so uncomfortable I just couldn’t let that happen. When I’d push him away I felt like the most terrible person on the planet and then the next morning I’d apologize over and over again and shower him with love. That has less to do with how much I love Archie and more to do with my capacity for dealing with physical discomfort.
That said, watching Archie with Ben is one of my favorite things ever and I think I actually love Archie more now, knowing how sweet he is with Ben. It’s proved to me that he’s the dog I always knew he was and it makes me so happy. He’s my first baby and I try really hard to make sure he feels loved and included. Also now that the night sweats are over he’s back to sleeping completely up against me and while it’s not always the most comfortable for me, I feel like letting him sleep how he wants is the least I can do to thank him for being such a good big brother.
You might still feel like yourself. I feel like whenever I read about motherhood, people talk about it like it’s this huge thing that completely changed them as a person forever. Certainly my life has changed. My days look completely different. My heart has this whole other section that’s all Ben. But I still feel like me. I really never stopped feeling like me. Not when I was pregnant and not since becoming a Mom. I’m a Mom but I’m still Nadine. I haven’t lost myself or found a new me. I don’t think this means I love my child any less. It doesn’t mean this experience is less special. It’s just that the love I have for him feels settled in my heart, like it was there all along, just waiting for him. I can’t explain it. I just feel like myself and I think that’s okay.
Now tell me, what was something no one told you about parenthood?