I’m not going to lie — I didn’t really do much “preparing” for having a baby compared to most moms. I kept telling myself I should do some reading on labour, on delivery, and on the first few months, but I just…didn’t. Here and there, I would read an article or two, but I mostly relied on experience and word of mouth. I grew up babysitting all my younger cousins so I felt as if I knew what to expect. I almost always had a baby in my arms or a child in my care! And because I work in a daycare (the nursery room, no less), I was surrounded by Moms. When these Moms discovered I was pregnant, they quickly offered up their stories and advice!
Thankfully, even with all this lack of preparation, I went on to have a pretty easy labour and delivery. I felt stronger than ever – I literally couldn’t stop saying “I grew that, I just birthed that”. The feeling of pride was so strong – I was so proud of myself.
Related: Welcome Charlotte – A L+D Story
Two days later, I got discharged from the hospital, which meant no more nurses taking care of me. No nurses to help out when I could barely open my eyes. And worst of all, no nurses to bring me all of my meals. That last one was particularly hard to deal with – I hate cooking with a passion.
Tim and I were alone with this tiny human who completely relied on us! That was terrifying. All the confidence I had while I was pregnant flew out the window on that drive home from the hospital.
Motherhood had really begun, and here are the things I wish I was told before having my baby:
1. You’re Going to Get Some Obsessive Behaviours – It’s Normal
I think all moms have at least one thing they constantly obsess over with their little ones. Sometimes it’s how much the baby is eating, how much they are sleeping, or how much they are peeing. I had this belief that because I had ton of experience with babies that I would be a relaxed Mom.
Boy, was I ever wrong.
Once Charlotte was home, I became obsessed with everything. Everything. I wouldn’t sleep without having her bassinet directly beside my bed – easier to check for breathing. For the first four weeks of her life, I was documenting how often she was eating and how much I was pumping. And I always needed to know if she was on track, physically and developmentally.
My anxiety really got the best of me. All the lack of research I did while pregnant caught up with me during Charlotte’s first couple months of life. I became obsessed with preparing myself for everything that is and all that will be.
2. Mom Guilt is Powerful, so Breathe
The amount of guilt I have felt since giving birth to Charlotte is immeasurable. When she cries too hard, I feel like I am doing something wrong. When I want to find a babysitter to get some sleep, I feel like I am being a bad mom. And when she is given a bottle of breastmilk instead of the breast directly, I feel like I am committing some massive “baby crime” to my daughter.
Realistically, I know my interpretations of the actions are not completely correct, but I can’t help feeling guilty. I so desperately want to do everything right for my little Charlotte that it makes me blind to reasonableness.
“Mom culture” and societal pressures often make new moms feel like they need to be perfect all of the time. When coupled with the desire to give our babies the best life we can, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we are all humans who aren’t capable of perfection all the time. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, remember to just breathe, relax, and know that you’re doing your best! Your baby will be fine even if you need someone else to hold them so you can wash your face.
3. You May Not Enjoy Breastfeeding – And That’s Ok
I hate breastfeeding, and I hate that I hate breastfeeding. I was always told by other moms about how much they loved breastfeeding so I assumed I would too. But it is the worst. I only wish I had been told just once that it may not be the magical, bonding experience it is advertised to be. Maybe I wouldn’t have had such an intense amount of guilt for not enjoying the experience.
For me, it is an incredibly painful experience every single time (almost four months in!), and I dread having to do it. I’ve checked with lactation nurse after lactation nurse on why it is still painful for me. I have had Charlotte’s latch checked multiple times. I have even tried pumping before each feeding in the hope of bringing the nipple out more to make it less painful. However, nothing has worked. Charlotte’s latch is perfect, and pumping doesn’t change the amount of pain I feel when she latches. The lactation nurses are at a loss.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will always have this pain. However, it makes the whole breastfeeding experience unenjoyable for me. The hate I feel towards breastfeeding feeds my mom guilt, but it is something I can’t change no matter how much I try.
Since writing this, I have actually had to quit breastfeeding due to the pain, among other reasons. You can read all about my breastfeeding journey here.
4. Things Will Never Be The Same – But You’ll Find a New Normal
I would always hear how “a baby changes everything” while I was pregnant, but I didn’t realize just how different. I was naive. It first hit me when I was trying to find a time to go see a movie with my family. Tim planned to stay home with Charlotte, but I still had to be home for her 8pm bedtime. Unfortnately for me, she will only take breast at bedtime. Trying to incorporate the work schedules of my family members and the bedtime of Charlotte made the ordeal a massive production. When we finally found a time that worked for everyone, I ended up not being able to go because Charlotte wasn’t feeling well that day.
It was then that I realized that making plans will always be a hassle now – at least until Charlotte (and all future kids) is old enough to be included in such plans. For now, there could be no more spontaneous trips. I have to coordinate everything, and just hope that the plans will be able to stick. I now have another person that I have to take into consideration in everything I do 100% of the time. Whether or not I have plans, she comes first and can stop those plans at a moment’s notice.
Now, I’m not going to lie – I do love this new life. I love that my child comes before anything else. Sometimes I miss being able to do last minute trips, but now I get to experience new things that I couldn’t before. I’m still getting used to the new routine, but I love the new normal.
5. You Will Have So Many Emotions, SO MANY
I can’t even properly describe how drastic the post-birth emotional rollercoaster is – specifically, within the first week. For me, I couldn’t stop crying. Every single time I looked at my newborn, I would shed tears of overwhelming joy. (You can see the top photo for proof!) However, the hormones of giving birth, combined with being very sleep-deprived, led to an extremely emotional week for me. I was constantly happy, sad, excited, scared, and irritable all at the same time. The emotions were uncontrollable. One second I would be laughing from happiness, the next I was having a panic attack, and then the next I was yelling at Tim for something or another.
Everybody is different in how their “baby blues” days go – not everyone experiences the massive hills of emotions. (I didn’t with my second at all!) However, being prepared for a huge change in emotions could help you handle them if you do experience them. There isn’t anything you can do as it is just due to a hormone change, so try to enjoy your time with baby and apologize to those you yelled at when you can!
(If you experience the baby blues and notice the symptoms are not leaving, please reach out to help!)
6. Your Relationship With Your Partner Will Change
This was probably the hardest fact for me to accept, and the one I most wish I had heard about before giving birth. Becoming a parent is HUGE – the absolute biggest part of your journey together. It’s important to keep the communication lines wide open between you and your partner, and to be aware of your emotions – are they “real” or are they caused by sleep deprivation?
After giving birth, I found my feelings towards Tim took a massive turn. I knew I loved him, and at the same time, I could not stand him! I had no idea why, and was terrified that we would have to part ways if I couldn’t start feeling for him again. It wasn’t until I read this article on “Hating Your Husband Post-Partum” that I understood that my feelings were normal. Thankfully, the feelings didn’t last too long. Opening myself up to Tim about my feelings helped me get over them even quicker.
Remember to take nights to be with just your partner. Try to find a babysitter, and go on a date! If you can’t find a babysitter, bring the baby (ideally during nap times) and have an agreement to ignore all phone calls, text, etc. Really taking the time for the two of you will go a long way in creating healthy family relationships.
Want to continue the conversation?
We were alone with this tiny human who completely relied on us! Motherhood had really begun, and here are the things I wish I was told before having my baby: Click To Tweet