REAL TALK | 10 Things I wish I knew before becoming a mom
I'll just say it - starting school in our house has NOT been an easy transition. My husband and I have both extremely appreciated all of the encouraging words and support during this time, but I still find myself really lost and seeking guidance for myself. Did I do something wrong? Am I the reason that my son is having a hard time with the changes? Should I have provided him a more structured home routine? Was there something I could've just handled differently? Let's just say my mind has been running like a hamster wheel for the last several days, questioning myself and letting my anxiety get the best of me. Cue the circus music.
Many of the questions -- thoughts -- going through my mind circles back to when my son was first born. I don't know that anyone can ever fully prepare you for being a first time mom or parent, but I still feel like there are small nuggets of information that are left out of the whole thing. I mean -- let's be honest. No woman wants to scare her friend who is becoming a first time mom, because that's no good for anyone. And maybe scare isn't the right word. I just know that over the years there are things that I wish someone would've just sat me down with a Ben & Jerry's ice cream and told it to me straight -- good and bad. So, this is MY chance to do that for all of the expectant mothers. KEEP IN MIND -- these are from MY personal experience and may not relate to you, my reader, in the slightest. I'm just being honest.
1) Everyone has completely different pregnancies. Seems silly that I have to say that, right? Well, it's true! I can remember being pregnant and getting SO FURIOUS with that I tested positive for being a gestational diabetic. I can remember yelling at the poor nurse over the phone about it (like it was her fault!) and being so, so angry. I would then find myself really jealous of my friends, who were completely healthy, no issues at all. Fast forward and after conversing with those same friends, I realize that they looked at me similarly because I wasn't gaining the weight they were -- I only gained 14 lbs in my pregnancy, about 7 1/2 lbs of which were my son. They also hated morning sickness -- which I also did not struggle with. Just remember - everyone's pregnancy will be completely different and unique to them. So don't waste your energy being jealous - just delight in your time!
2) Pinterest, Google, and all of the books... they have a lot of GREAT information, but be prepared for all scenarios. What I mean by that is I don't know how many times I looked at how to create a birth plan, or what to take to the hospital, or choosing a nursery theme. Looking back, I don't think I followed any of the guidance I spend hours and hours looking for. Why? Because it wasn't in what would be MY plan. Birth plans are a great idea. And I am absolutely certain that some women are able to make one and stick to it. But, in my case, I ended up having an emergency c-section. I can promise you that having surgery was NOT in any birth plan I started writing in my notebooks or typing in a word document. I don't think any book or article can adequately prepare you for all of the good and bad that could or could not occur on the day you go in to the hospital. I guess what I'm saying is, don't read one or two articles and expect to be prepared. A better resource? Some of your close friends who are mothers.
3) C-sections aren't the absolute worst thing in the world. One thing that my friends had stuck in my mind was that having a c-section was horrible for recovery and I wanted to avoid it at all costs. I mean, think about it. The doctors are cutting into your abdomen to pull out your organs and set them on a table right next to you, which ultimately leads to the emerging of a tiny human, at which point the doctors will put you back together like a puzzle and sew you back up. Sounds awesome, right? Not really. Full disclosure, when I was being put back together, I got sick all over myself. My anesthesiologist nurse I had by my side monitoring my medications was so sweet - I must've had a funny look on my face because I looked at her and said I felt sick. She went and grabbed a bunch of towels and who knows what else and told me to lean my head sideways and just let it out. Yep, it was in my hair and on my face. I didn't really care. But, the recovery wasn't HORRIBLE. I learned I couldn't laugh, sneeze or cough without wanting to curl up and die (haha), but that got easier. I learned how to get up and down in a new way because, well, my stomach muscles were slightly out of commission. It took me about two weeks before I felt "normal-ish" again, but I never had to worry about the issues that happen "down under", which I can imagine would be far less preferable. So... don't be scared of a c-section. PLUS, you get extra time off work -- score!
4) You may not have an angel baby that sleeps through the night from the beginning... and that's ok. On my list of things I expected being a new mom, I didn't necessarily think my baby would sleep fantastic. I was not, however, prepared for a colicky baby. For those of you who aren't really sure what a colicky baby is... let me share with you. In short, colicky babies cry and scream for hours on end with no relief, and there's absolutely nothing you can really do about it but cry along with them. Yep, I'm serious. I am fairly certain I didn't sleep for days on end in the first 6-8 weeks of my son's time on Earth. It wasn't a great time in our household. No one could comfort me or my husband during that time, and we definitely weren't great for each other. But, after taking my son to the chiropractor, it got better. Yep, babies can go to the chiropractor. It's amazing and I highly recommend it if you're struggling with a screamer. DO IT.
5) It's okay to not like your kid once in a while. Oh my goodness, I used to feel like the worst person ever. How could someone not like their child? That just sounds horrible. But, it's not. Do you always like your spouse? Your parents? Your siblings? NO. But, you always love them. Don't beat yourself up about it - it's ok!
6) It's okay to admit you need help. Back to the baby phase, it's okay to admit you're struggling and YOU need help. I totally struggled with postpartum depression, and it was horrible. I was put on anxiety medicine for it, which really helped to take the edge off of the whole situation. Postpartum depression is NOT something to mess around with and assume it will work itself out. It is a real thing that can cause real damage. Find someone who can help you immediately if you think you need it.
7) It doesn't really get easier... you just get more confident. I don't know how many times I would hear, "yeah, just get through the baby phase and then it gets easier," or "after the 'terrible twos', it's smooth sailing!" Each year accompanies growth in development, mind, etc... which means new struggles and challenges. We are just a month and a half away from having a five year old, and I can promise you each year has provided its own unique challenges. Learning to crawl, then walk, then destroy, then throw, then talk, then talk BACK. Oh it goes on. But I can promise you that I have grown more confident in my abilities as a parent over the years, which makes it all better... slightly. :)
8) They grow SO FAST. Again, this seems like a really dumb thing. But, not only do they grow fast like going from crawling to walking, but THE CLOTHES! I spent A TON of money on clothes from Carters, Target, Childrens Place... only for them to only last for a few months. It started to drive me absolutely crazy! I have found that my best friend is garage sales or just plain ol' hand-me-downs. I have spent far less money on clothes, and the clothes we do have are going further. So do yourself a favor - buy a few things here and there, but don't go spend crazy. And when you're kiddo is done with them, and if YOU'RE done with them, pass them on. It's quite the blessing!
9) It's okay to not be a perfect parent. No, seriously. It's incredibly embarrassing for me when my son gets in trouble by people who aren't me. I feel like it reflects on my parenting ability. But it doesn't. It doesn't mean I'm doing something wrong. It means my child is making poor choices even though he knows better. I think we can relate to that - because I know I have made poor choices myself, especially as a parent. See number 8. See this whole POST! I have struggled a lot since my son was born. I have grown a lot as a person. I have cried a lot, I have laughed a lot. I have never once found myself to fit the mold of being perfect... and honestly when I was trying to, it was exhausting and admittedly unattainable. And, my son loves me exactly as I am. And that's OK with me.
10) You're going to miss it. Now wait, I just said my son was 5. Miss what?! It's easy -- miss the younger ages. I wanted so desperately for my son to crawl, and once he started walking, I found myself remembering moments when he was still crawling. Now that he's in school, I find myself looking back on when he was two years old and still not talking and needing speech therapy. I used to wish and pray every night that he would talk. Now, I beg to play the quiet game. I wanted him so badly to go to school and church and make friends, and now that he has started to make friends, I wish he was a little baby again so I could snuggle and cuddle him all day long. Not that I didn't think that would be an issue before I became a mom, but I never understood the gravity of the love I would feel so immediately for this tiny little baby. In my mind, he is still a tiny little baby. And he will always be.
Like I said, you might read this and think, "this chick is crazy." And that's fine. But... these are all things that I wish I had a heads up on. Not that it would've made the process to this point any easier, but... we always want what we never had, right?