Very few things are surrounded by as much “It’s gonna be great!” propaganda as having your first baby. I understand the reason for this: no one wants to scare the bejeesus out of a mom-to-be. We don’t want to be negative on the off-chance that everything goes great, they don’t suffer a lick of post-partum depression, they adore motherhood right out of the delivery room, and they are ready to have another one a few months later. We don’t want those few new moms who escape some of the stuff I’m about to share with you to look at us like we are peeing on their parade, to pity us and to avoid us because they don’t want to catch our bad attitude.
Personally, I wish someone would have accurately prepared me for exactly how challenging it was going to be — not because it would have changed my mind but because I wouldn’t have felt so damn alone in my anxiety and boredom. The only other new mom I knew (she was two weeks ahead of me) told me that everything was perfect and beautiful when I asked how it was going. Much, much later, she told me it was incredibly hard but that she didn’t want to scare me or to judge her so she just “kept it light.”
Well, I don’t want to scare you either, but I do want to give you a heads up so that if you pop out your kid and sh*t goes sideways, you will know that Old Stef said it might be this way and also, eventually, it will be awesome!
1. Breastfeeding rarely comes naturally.
I think the experience can range from difficult to brutal so if you’re having trouble, that’s normal. Also, your boobs are going to hurt a lot. I mean, seriously, a lot. Have some ice packs ready. Also, get some Soothies which are gel nipple pads that will save your life. You might want to add them to your baby registry right now, because you can’t have enough of these bad boys on hand.
2. That whole cliche about never getting to shower?
It’s true. You will probably smell gross a lot in the beginning due to hormones and yes, lack of personal hygiene. Again, normal!
3. Colic is more common than you think.
I doubt your baby will have colic, but both of my twins did and it nearly wrecked me. Because no one really warned me about it, I was very caught off guard. I’m not saying you should be worried about it, but maybe reading up on the signs will save you the feeling of “I’m just a horrible mom who can’t get her baby to stop crying.” Actually you will probably have that feeling anyway if it happens to you.
4. You will probably not have sex for a while.
And even once you do, your sex life isn’t going to just bounce right back. Sure, you can have sex after four weeks (or six if you had a Caesarian), but that just means you’re allowed to, not that you are counting down the days to bring sexy back. It’s normal if you don’t have a lot of sex the first year with a baby. It doesn’t mean your marriage is in trouble or that you are a bad wife (or husband). Having a new baby changes your hormones, your body, your energy level, your anxiety level, and your sleep patterns. That’s not sexy.
5. Sleep deprivation effects can mimic the symptoms of depression.
You aren’t sleeping. Therefore, you feel cranky, sad, a bit hopeless, negative, hungry (or not hungry), and unmotivated. Everything sounds hard. Here you are in the first few months of newbabydom, and you can’t muster up the strength to take the baby to the mall to walk through Forever 21 like a zombie hoping to catch sight of another new mom to help ease the loneliness. You wonder, am I depressed? Well, you could be, but also could be that you don’t need Zoloft, you just need Zzzzz’s.
6. It’s very common to get actual depression!
Sure you’ve heard about that, but maybe you think it only calls for getting help if you’re all “Brooke Shields, Down Came the Rain” depressed and not just “crying all day for no real reason depressed.” Here’s the thing: a whole lot of women feel worse than the baby blues for a few days or months but don’t think it warrants talking to your doctor. I’m not saying you need medication, but you might be comforted to know that you don’t hate motherhood; you’re just having a hormone crash that is causing depression.
7. Early motherhood can be very boring.
Some people enjoy doing nothing all day every day, and those people may not be at all bored, but a lot of us are going to feel incredibly bored at first. Early on when your baby is mostly sleeping, eating, dozing, snacking, and crying you may be dismayed to find that you are crushingly bored. It may help to know that a lot of us felt that way and that the boredom gets a lot better when you get some routine back in your life — be it work or just the ability to drive. If you find yourself reading spam email about erectile dysfunction just because it’s news from the outside world, you’re not alone.
8. Your best-laid plans may end up falling through.
Starting from your birth plan, almost nothing that you decide about motherhood before you experience it is going to go exactly as you may envision it. I distinctly remember my sister-in-law walking through my living room with her 3-month-old averting his eyes from our TV because she didn’t want her son to so much as see TV until he turned 2. I think that lasted until the first time she seriously needed a shower and Mr. Baby Einstein video provided much-needed child care. I’m not saying your kid will be sat in front of the TV for six hours. I’m just saying 30 minutes of Dora never hurt anyone.
All that being said, you will eventually fall in love with being a parent, you will eventually sleep, you will come to consider yourself an expert in parenting your child, and later on you won’t be bored at all. But your kid will be. And they will tell you that they are bored over and over every chance they get.
Okay, who wants to add to this list? Come on! Let’s do the world a service!
Also, if you want some other truth telling, you can always read Sippy Cups are Not For Chardonnay.
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