Yet another post about my personal rollercoaster ride into new motherhood! Have you been waiting with bated breath? Don’t answer that.
Like most women expecting their first child, I read the books about what to expect. I knew to expect sleep deprivation, baby blues, and that I would still look pregnant for a few days after popping out my little human. (My husband risked a punch in the throat when he made a comment about that the day after I GAVE HIM A SON.) I also knew to expect loads of good stuff.
Despite all the information the books dole out, I have to say I was still blindsided by a few aspects of my post-partem life. As someone who likes to be as well-prepared as possible in every situation, I would have liked to have had a more realistic sense of what was really coming my way, along with my (super adorable) wee man.
For instance, the books tell you that you will likely bleed for 6 weeks after giving birth. It’s called lochia. Not having to worry about my period for 9 months while pregnant was great, but I would have happily dealt with it if it meant not experiencing lochia. It was like 9 months of period packed into 6 weeks. We’re talking heavy flow, ladies. We’re talking adult diapers heavy. “Just a second, Monkey Face! Mommy will change your diaper just as soon as she changes her own!” Would have been nice to wrap my head around that reality before I was living it.
And then there’s the hair loss. During pregnancy, I had the thickest hair of my life. This is because my body didn’t bother to shed a single strand for months. A couple months after Wee Man arrived, I started to notice a lot of hair coming out in my comb after showering. And then I noticed how much hair was on the bathroom floor after blowdrying. Like, if I had known how much hair was going to fall out in a very short amount of time, I would have saved it and had a wig made to wear now. I have bald spots at my hairline which require a comb-over to hide. And I have sideburns?!? No ponytails for me until that sitch is under control. I understand that pregnant cavewomen may have needed the extra warmth provided by all the hair they didn’t lose, but what is the purpose now? Why have we not evolved out of this situation? Unimpressed. I wish the books had been more honest about that one.
I also wish that the books had encouraged me to run and get more books about baby sleep and read my brains out before Baby arrived. Do you realize how much there is to know about how babies sleep? Their sleep cycles, their sleep regressions, their sleep cues, sleep training, etc etc etc. I think there could be a library entirely devoted to baby sleep books. But once Baby arrives, you simply don’t have the time to do that kind of reading…yet you desperately want the information! You want to understand what your little person needs in order to score the best sleep so that MAMA can also score the best sleep! True that your baby may never experience half the things covered in the books, but better to be armed with the information just in case. The peace of mind that comes with understanding a situation if it presents itself, versus the mental-ness that comes with trying to figure it out when you are in the middle of the chaos.
Another thing that was barely mentioned in the books was the impact of a new baby on a relationship. When you’re wanting a baby and you find out you’re expecting, you put on your rose-coloured glasses. Everything is dreamy and romantic and life is going to be perfect and our family is going to be so amazing and our baby will sleep like a champ from Day 1 and I’m going to lose all the baby weight in a week and nothing will be overwhelming or hard! And then your sweet one arrives and you love your spouse but you also sort of hate him. You expected Baby to bring you even closer but the enormity of this life change just seems to drive a wedge between you. Both of you are exhausted and working your tails off in very different ways, and it’s like it becomes a competition about who is more tired, or whose life changed more. I’m very fortunate to have a husband who is good at communicating, so we have been pretty successful at navigating the pressures of new parenthood and maintaining a united front. I think we were both caught off guard by how much strain new parenthood put on our relationship, though. Entirely normal, I have since learned, but not thanks to ‘the books’!
I also wish I had known that watching Nashville would turn me into a country-music lover. Well, maybe not lover…not yet. I’m definitely a liker now, though. This one absolutely belongs in this post because, like most moms, Netflix shows are the soundtrack of my life these days. My mom recommended Nashville when I was searching for (yet) another show to watch, once I was finished with Wentworth and Nurse Jackie (and the 32 other series I had watched). Three seasons later and I am looking for country music on Spotify and Sonos. Like I have time to be exploring a new genre of music!!!
Now, to anyone sans children reading this post, I may have turned you off the idea of having a baby. Bleeding and hair loss and sleep obsession and country music, oh my! But the other thing you need to know is this: The books also didn’t prepare me for just how much my heart was capable of loving. Every time I look at my son, my heart bursts with love. Every time I see my husband being the amazing dad he is, my heart is at risk of exploding. When my son smiles or laughs, I could cry with joy. When he wraps his little arms around my neck and cuddles into me, oh boy. I’m a goner.
Even if the books had explained this, and maybe some actually tried, I wouldn’t have believed it possible that my heart could feel so much love. Totally cheesy, I know. But, at the moment, I’m watching my son as he discovers his toes. I’m just a big old mess of love. Just thought you should know.
That’s why I always say it is the best AND the hardest job you will ever do. No question about it!