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6 Things I Wish I Knew Pre-Pregnancy

Lessons that come with kids attached

By Melissa Sher |

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  • 6 Things I Wish I Knew Pre-Pregnancy

    Stars are not just like us

    Stars are not just like us Was there a celebrity who had a baby around the same time as you? Unless you enjoy torturing yourself, don’t read about this super-duper famous person’s first few weeks as a mom if you happen to see her on the cover of a magazine, gazing into the eyes of her newborn. I can already tell you what she’s going to say: “I’ve never been happier.” “I’ve never been more in love.” “I can’t wait to pose for this same magazine two weeks from now in my bikini.”

    In the real world, the first month or two can be tough. Please cut yourself some slack. And, if you can, lay off the magazines and stick to watching reality television shows about people with filthy, disorganized homes who save used kitty litter “for just in case.”

  • 6 Things I Wish I Knew Pre-Pregnancy

    Breastfeeding isn't magic

    Breastfeeding isn't magic It looked ridiculously easy to me before I tried it. Take a crying baby. Slip her inside of your shirt. When she reappears, she will be content, quiet, sleeping. Except, in my first weeks nursing, it wasn’t easy for me. It hurt like a you-know-what, and my baby cried when we were done.

    My suggestion? If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, consult with a lactation consultant or find a local breastfeeding support group as soon as possible. And if you’re worried about the cost of the visit, as someone who has both breastfed and used formula, I can tell you that whatever the appointment costs (and this could include flying in someone who calls herself the “Breast Whisperer” from France), it’s cheaper than a year of formula. (Though if you do end up using formula, please don’t beat yourself up about it. Save that for if you ever feed your baby Diet Coke.)

  • 6 Things I Wish I Knew Pre-Pregnancy

    Sleep deprivation's a big deal

    Sleep deprivation's a big deal A few months ago, there was an article in TIME Magazine about sleep deprivation. Long story short, it makes you bad at gambling. So, if you planned any trips to Vegas a month after giving birth, consider yourself warned. What else does it do? Among many things, it may impair your judgment and memory, cause confusion, and increase or decrease your appetite. It might make you a wee bit irritable. When our oldest son was a couple of months old, my husband asked me if I had picked up some dry-cleaning he needed. In retrospect, I may have overdone it when I reacted as if he had confessed to cheating on me with a Kardashian sister.

    Here’s the bad news: I don’t know what you can do about it. I find the advice, “Sleep when the baby sleeps” useless. At the very least, use your exhaustion as an excuse for whatever you need for as long as you want. I know I still do. (If you find any typos, grammatical errors or just plain don’t like this piece, blame it on my five-month-old who still wakes up at night.)

  • 6 Things I Wish I Knew Pre-Pregnancy

    The five S's work

    The five S's work I read a lot of baby books by doctors in my first year as a mom. Weissbluth. Ferber. Spock. Sears. I thought the advice in Dr. Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby on the Block was the most useful. In a nutshell, here is his advice for triggering an infant’s calming reflex: swaddle, swing, side/stomach position, shush and suck. Too busy for the book? There’s a DVD. Too busy for the DVD? Well, then you’re out of luck. (Kidding. Here’s his website: The Happiest Baby

  • 6 Things I Wish I Knew Pre-Pregnancy

    Ask for help

    Ask for help Approximately thirteen percent of women suffer from postpartum depression. I, personally, found myself incredibly anxious in my first weeks as a new mom. If you feel depressed, overanxious, overwhelmed or are worried that you may have trouble taking care of yourself and your baby, please call your doctor or reach out to a loved one right away.

    And, if you think a friend or a family member may be struggling with depression or anxiety, offer help immediately. Be specific. Don’t ask, “Is there anything I can do?” No one ever takes anyone up on, “Is there anything I can do?” Instead, every time someone you care about has a baby, reach out to her. Insist on bringing over dinner (in disposable containers; save the Earth another day), offer to watch her baby in her home while she takes a nap, or drop off a bag filled with Overnight Maxi-Pads. Is there any woman alive who predicted how long she would need those after giving birth?

  • 6 Things I Wish I Knew Pre-Pregnancy

    It keeps getting better

    It keeps getting better My mom tells me that the two happiest times of her life were returning home from the hospital with me and, later, with my sister. Her diplomacy will serve her well should she ever decide to run for public office. Of course, I wanted to feel like she did. But, I didn’t. I have three children. I love them. Wait, that doesn’t sound adequate. I loooooooove them. It’s just that for each of their first few weeks home, I was in survival mode. How much so? Let’s just say that I’m glad there weren’t any real milestones before four weeks or I might have missed them in my sleep-deprived state. (I don’t count the shriveling up of the umbilical cord as a milestone.)

    However, every day with each of my children just gets better and better. There’s the first smile. And the first laugh — the kind that sounds like someone just backed a car over a squeaky-toy. There’s the way toddlers butcher singing their ABC’s. There’s the first eating of spaghetti. I could devote an entire photo album to my kids with their bright orange, covered-in-sauce faces. And then, there’s the first time you hear the word, “Mama.” In my house, it’s always after “Dada” — as well as “ball,” “mine,” and “duck” — but it’s always been worth the wait.

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About Melissa Sher

bcmelissasher

Melissa Sher

Melissa Sher is the creator of the blog Mammalingo.com, which had been featured in the New York Times' Motherlode column, DailyCandy Kids, and in emails from her parents to their friends. She's written for Babble.com before and has been a frequent contributor to The Chicago Tribune as well as her junior high newspaper.

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43 thoughts on “6 Things I Wish I Knew Pre-Pregnancy

  1. Ashley Vollmer DeHaye says:

    I could not agree more. First the 5 S’s were a godsend at 2 months when I finally got around to reading Dr. Karp’s book. It was like magic. Second, do not underestimate how tired you will be. The first couple of weeks you run on adrenaline so you don’t really get what everyone is fussing about, but the 4-6 mark is TOUGH! I recommend saving up some favors and offers of help/dinners/babysitting until then – you will need them. I also remember all the advice to write down when baby ate, pooped, slept, etc. and thinking I was an educated person who could certainly keep track of inane details like that! Not so, my husband came home from work one day and asked when the baby had eaten and I burst into tears. Just write it down! It will make you so much happier.

  2. Talia says:

    These are wonderful! I couldn’t agree more on the being exhausted and being in survival mode. As much as I enjoyed the cuddling and singing, I always felt like each day was just to get from one thing to the next without anything major happening. If we could get from a feeding to a diaper change without anyone having a meltdown, it was a good 20 minutes. It does get better over time. I do love babies, but I think I enjoy my kiddo more now that we’re all getting a little bit more sleep and she’s more interactive.

  3. CDN Mummy says:

    Love, Love, Love it. I’m sure there could be more added to the list but yours are definitely up there.

  4. Alexis Copland Kaplan says:

    Agree that this list could go on forever! All of it is so true and honest. There is nothing on earth to prepare you for what happens…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  5. sarah lynn says:

    Such a great, and accurate, article. We tend to overthink and overanalyze so much, but never end up getting the right message through to new moms. This is simple and helps a new mom know where to focus limited energies!

  6. Emily says:

    I wish you were with me in the delivery room. No one told me that the first year was going to be so hard. It’s nice to hear that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for sharing your wonderful words of wisdom.

  7. Lee says:

    Great essay. It makes me feel that I am not alone when I feel overwhelmed. I also love Mammalingo.com

  8. Anonymous says:

    What a fabulous article. From covering the real deal with breastfeeding to the honest toll sleep deprivation takes on mothers everywhere-this piece covers it all-i wish someone had an article like this for me when I was pregnant…. Whenever a new mom is about to have a baby-no one Ever tells her what it is really truly going to be like & that it is hard! This article does this in a tactful, informative and most importantly-humorous way. Very enjoyable to read & I think the author has a great “voice”…

  9. Vanessa says:

    ? it! such a great read, and i couldn’t agree more! very helpful for moms/mommies-to-be.

    on breastfeeding: I thought so too, especially with my moms encouragement that all I need to do is eat a lot of soup! i did but still had trouble increasing milk supply. that time, i realized it isnt always that moms know best. heehee.

  10. Greg J says:

    Love the advice.

    So as my wife is a happy-breast-feeding-bikini-wearing-well-slept-non-help-asking super mom which magazine should I contact?

  11. Helen Hayashi says:

    Mellissa – I love you! ; D Ditto, particularly on 5 S’s. I wish someone had told me to read the NEWBORN books and not the stupid pregnancy books!!

  12. Also says:

    And add not to worry about what other people think!

  13. Cindy J says:

    This is helpful advice! What a wonderful piece!

  14. Fit Bottomed Mama says:

    Amen, sister! Still exhausted 11 months later. I think I’m in such a deficit I’ll never recover. And “deficit” looks wrong. But maybe that’s because it’s past midnight and, exhausted.

  15. MadisonWi says:

    As a first-time mom, I definitely agree with this article. I was so stressed out the first few weeks and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy and glowing. Friends told me that it was going to be hard but I didn’t understand until I was in the middle of it.

  16. Jana Llewellyn says:

    Great piece, Melissa. Once again, you’ve blended reality, tenderness, and humor effortlessly. I couldn’t agree with you more. (Though I never read The Happiest Baby. I did keep Weissbluth’s book in the elastic of my pants, though.)

  17. Heather says:

    100% agree with this list! My son is 3 1/2 and we a preparing for number 2 at the end of December. I am stating to think back about all those things I learned in that first year with my son. You never truly “know” until you’ve been there and then once you’ve been there you “know” moer than you ever wanted to!

  18. Paige says:

    interesting!

  19. Lisa says:

    Wish I could have read this 7 years ago when I had my first baby and needed some sound advice from a real mom! Love it!

  20. Adrienne says:

    Everything would be so much easier if I could just schedule a daily coping strategy session with you! Thanks for being there for all us newbies.

  21. JL says:

    Well done! Especially #6– it really does get easier and more awesome with time. And now, let me sell you some handbags! (Haha, but seriously Babble- lets clear out the spam ads, please?! Don’t you have a staff to purge this garbage?)

  22. Anonymous says:

    wow you are so right you are a god sent. nice

  23. Kendras Birthmom Twin says:

    All great advice. I especially love the part about the ridiculous media coverage of celeb’s “post-baby-bods”. Opening a mag and seeing a pic of someone whose child has almost the same birthdate as you talking about how the weight just “fell off” because they were breastfeeding and “running around” after their newborn???…Also, how they can still eat “anything they want” because they are breastfeeding. Annoying! I was lucky that Kendra was my celeb birth mom “twin” because she was very honest about what a struggle it can be – even for a playboy centerfold – to have the motivation and time and energy to make getting ready for bikini season a priority. Thanks for a great, informative read!

  24. Melissa Sher says:

    @Kendras, your comment made me chuckle. I’ve actually been making up words for parenting related things over the past couple of years (because, ummm, I don’t know why!) and here’s my word that sums up your relationship with Kendra.
    doppelklumer n. [Fr. doppelgänger or double +Heidi Klum]: Any movie star, rock star or supermodel whos pregnant at the same time as you. In other words, your celebrity pregnancy counterpart. Named for Heidi Klum who has four kids and has, therefore, shared due dates with thousands upon thousands of women. The problem with keeping tabs on your doppelklumers pregnancy and recovery through US Weekly is the inevitable comparison you make between the two of you.
    Thanks for writing…

  25. Linda says:

    I wish I had read this before my first pregnanncy. Good essay.

  26. Karla says:

    Great list! The sleep deprivation became my biggest obsession. In fact, I devoted my blog to baby sleep. http://angelsofbabysleep.wordpress.com/

  27. Anonymous says:

    it was nice to read

  28. Ssnyder says:

    So true about the 5 S! They have been lifesavers.

  29. BLP says:

    This is practical and relevant; thanks for sharing!

  30. rbh says:

    great piece. funny. thanks for writing!

  31. Flora says:

    Wheover wrote this, you know how to make a good article.

  32. Digger says:

    I can’t believe I’ve been going for years without konwnig that.

  33. tallblonde says:

    Read http://www.whatnobodytellsyouabouthavingababy.blogspot.com – a whole year’s worth of things you don’t get told!

  34. Melissa Sher says:

    @tallblonde, I’m coming over to visit your blog. I love talking about and reading up on the things no one tells you about. There are so many of them. Number one: showering. It’s impossible. I’ve really had to lower my standards for hygiene. But, I should probably not admit this publicly. And, every time I have another kid (I have three) I discover new-things-no-one-tells-you-about. Every day is like a sociological/anthropological experiment. Sincerely, @mediumbrunette a.k.a. Melissa Sher

  35. Aspen says:

    A good many vaulaebls you’ve given me.

  36. Loradae says:

    You coudln?t pay me to ignore these posts!

  37. tallblonde says:

    @meduimbrunette – please, feel free to share any other gems you know that nobody has told me about yet! Motherhood is certainly full of surprises. My latest blog is online now – http://www.whatnobodytellsyouabouthavingababy.blogspot.com

  38. asquaredblog says:

    This couldn’t be more true, especially the breastfeeding! And if it wasn’t for the Happiest Baby on the Block, we would never have survived the first 2-3 months.

  39. Eva at Little Cool Toys says:

    Great post. I had a wonderful pregnancy but no one had told me how painful breastfeeding could be! You’re so right it just gets better and better each day following the kids grow up and learn new things :) and they grow up way to fast!

  40. noahs x mommy xox says:

    I’m 32 weeks pregnant with my first baby and I found this very helpful! Especially since I plan on breast feeding. Thanks for the heads up and tips on making things a little easier :)

  41. Tiny Blue Lines says:

    I cant wait to pose for this same magazine two weeks from now in my bikini.

  42. Ronalee says:

    Glad I’ve filnaly found something I agree with!

  43. Nelly Frect says:

    it seems like a great article but you will enjoy this one more read here…http://is.gd/Yo5fib

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