Things I wish I'd known before having my baby

Perhaps things I wish I'd known is the wrong way to title this post. Some of these thing are ones I knew but for some reason they just didn't click. Other things were stuff I had been told, but dismissed. All in all, having a baby has brought some revelations I was not emotionally prepared for.

Becoming a mother is the most fascinating, exasperating, magical thing I have ever done, and honestly, I really look forward to having another baby so I can experience it in a much more prepared way. But then that baby will probably be completely different than this one, so I'll have a whole new set of things to learn. In the mean time, here's what I discovered with this one.

You do not have to eat for two.
Seriously, this is actually kind of a bad idea. You may feel like you want to eat everything in sight, but unless you are one of those women blessed with the ability to burn fat just by smiling, you will probably regret using your baby as an excuse to binge. As someone who can gain weight just by looking at food, I really wish I'd have exercised a little more common sense when it came to my pregnancy eating habits.

You CAN lift things.
Obviously, don't overdo it. But seriously, you are not an invalid. Nothing is broken, and you are just as strong, if not stronger than you were before you got pregnant. You'll know when its time to take a rest, but sitting around afraid to exert yourself isn't healthy. And when you have another baby, you'll have a toddler that wants to be picked up and hugged, so the whole "don't lift things" myth kinda goes out the window. So lift some crap. It's good for you.

Postpartum is HARD.
This is the most important thing. Pregnancy was amazing. Birth was enchanting. But postpartum was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I really expected to bounce back a whole lot faster than I did. I found myself dealing with crippling anxiety, four bouts of mastitis, and stronger emotions than I had prepared for. If nothing else, the smashing realization that this tiny little person was completely dependent on ME was enough to throw me for a loop. I mean, it's one of those things that you know, but actually holding this howling, starving, pink little human wriggling in your arms and knowing that its going to need its diaper changed {many times} and it's probably going to be up every two hours...and you're the one it wants...I think I almost hyperventilated the first time I changed my son's diaper.

Only after three months did I start feeling somewhat like a normal human being again. I am now a firm believer in The Fourth Trimester. When I have another baby, I will be telling everyone not to expect anything from me for the next three months. I will be purposely hibernating with my littles, not like this time where my fear of going out kept me home rather than a respect for myself and what I had just gone through. I won't be trying to make an appearance anywhere, travel anywhere, or go places so people can meet the baby. If you want to see us, you know where we live...bring a covered dish.

So if I can say anything to new moms, it is this: lower your expectations. Take it easy on yourself. Wear only stretchy pants and whatever you do, don't try on your pre-pregnancy jeans right away unless you want to cry. You just made a freakin' human and pushed it out of your body. Give yourself at least three months to recover, and shove everyone else's expectations of you down the toilet.

Having siblings/babysitting DOES NOT adequately prepare you for motherhood.
It just doesn't. You can have a dozen siblings and spend countless hours babysitting, but those kids ultimately have a mother, and you are not it. Unless you have literally been the one to to drag yourself out of bed (what feels like hundreds of times), been the only person that little one wants, been its main source of food, warmth, and cleanliness...being a sister or a sitter is just playtime. You may be able to change a diaper, or distract a toddler long enough for your mom to get a shower, but it's just not the same.

Growing up around birth/breastfeeding does not adequately prepare you for actually doing it. 
I have been a part of big families and breastfeeding culture my whole life. So when Titus was born I pulled him close to me and tried to feed him in his first day earthside. When my midwife's assistant came to check up on me less than 24 hours after birth, she asked how things were going. Titus hadn't latched on for more than 5 minutes, and it just felt awkward and hard. I showed her what I was doing, and she proceeded to crawl up in bed with me and spend a good half hour coaching me on the breastfeeding I swore I knew all about. It was simple things I felt like I should have known, but I didn't. Her time with me made all the difference in the world.

Birth was in many ways the same. I had watched all the videos, read all the books, but when it came right down to it, I needed my midwife and my doula there to remind me of things and coach me through the process. They were worth their weight in gold to me.

So regardless of how many siblings you grew up with, hire a doula and make sure you have someone available to check up on you afterwards and help you with nursing or whatever else you may not realize you need help with.

Birth has a mind of its own.
Water breaks, labor happens, baby is born. That's how it goes, right? One thing right after the other, a flurry of activity to bring a baby earthside.

Wrong. Or at least, not always right.

In my case, my water broke, and forty.freaking.hours later, my labor officially started. What?!? I totally did not expect my body to need that much time to get ready for birth.

So make your plan, know what you want in your birth, but don't be surprised if something changes. Roll with it.

People are so opinionated. 
They've got a solution for everything. They know everything. And they make pretty rude comments. They will make comments about your weight, both before and after if you need any more blows to your self esteem. They will insist that its good for the baby to cry, and tell you that you have to give the baby a bottle whether you want to or not. They will ask stupid questions about your baby's sleep habits, eating habits, and even have the audacity to ask if your tiny little newborn is a "good baby", because newborns are malicious little monsters, right? They will tell you all the things you "need" to do, and will be rather offended if you keep the baby's name and gender a secret. If you tell them your pregnancy is going really well, they will look at you like you are lying to them.

Basically, most people are incapable of just telling a pregnant woman how beautiful she looks, or a new mom how adorable her baby is, and leaving it at that.

People are weird. 
So when I got pregnant, everyone was excited. But after he was born, something strange happened. Our family and a lot of friends were still thrilled, of course. But a lot of people that I thought would be more excited...weren't. Or maybe it wasn't exactly that they weren't excited so much as they just weren't present. They were happy to meet the baby if I showed up somewhere with him. But it was almost as if they were indifferent. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen.
I don't even know what my advice is here, other than to expect weirdness. There will always be people you thought would be around for you and then it turns out that they aren't. And no one will be as excited for your baby as you will be, so just focus on that.

Babies are weird.
They are the most wonderful weird in the world. But they are truly weird. Just when you think you've got them all figured out, they will change on you. Just when you think they're "on a schedule," forget it, they won't be tomorrow. Just when you think they've stopped breaking out in some frightening skin rash, a new one will flare up because we suddenly can't handle dairy. One day they will be so hungry {all} day and the next, they'll sleep so much you'll wonder if they're sick or something. They find amusement in the silliest things, and have ability to puke the quietest, most unforeseen puke of your life.

You have never known this kind of worry.
I don't care what kind of stress you've ever experienced, it does not compare to the worry you will now have on your heart 24/7 because of this little person. I never knew it was even possible to worry about the things I now worry about. Is he hot? Is he cold? Are his socks too tight? Is he breathing? What if someone with a cold breathes on him? Am I making enough milk? What do I do with him when I have to pee? Oh good heavens someone is holding him...don't freak out, don't freak out, don't.freak.out. He's crying...why is he crying? Did I hurt him somehow? What if I got a little water in his mouth when I gave him a know secondary drowning in a thing, right? Oh my goodness what if he's drowning? Why is he still asleep? Is HE BREATHING???

A dear friend has told me it gets easier with the second and third kids, so apparently I need to have more babies.

You have never known love like this.
I never knew my heart could explode like this. It will never cease to amaze me how this tiny human can fill me with a love and a joy like nothing I have ever experienced. No matter how long a night we've had, how sore my boobs are, how long its been since I've showered, or how many different types of bodily fluid I'm covered in...all it takes is one beautiful, admiring smile from him and I completely melt. During those long, hard nights, there is always a moment where I cry a little and think, "Little guy, I am not real fond of you right now." And then the morning comes and he starts babbling and cooing to me, and my feeble heart goes, "Aw, its ok. I'll be sleep deprived for you every day for the rest of my life if only you will make that beautiful little noise one more time."

. . .
We are always learning, always growing. So take heart lovely mamas. Be prepared. Be flexible. Be gentle on yourself.



  1. And the journey is only beginning! You have so many marvelous moments ahead Hannah....enjoy and cherish them all !! Love you!


to top