1. Breastfeeding isn’t easy.
It seemed so simple before I had Ellen: I would breastfeed. Duh. You have a baby, latch her on, and that’s it, right? No one ever told me there was a learning curve. I mean, it’s what we’re supposed to do, right? How could there be a learning curve? After having Ellen and struggling and wanting to give up, I’m so grateful that I had the support of my husband, mom, doula, and nurses to help me get through the difficulties. For those of you who aren’t familiar, let me school you.
No one tells you that there is an art to latching on a baby, and in my case, Ellen needed some training. If you don’t get this right, baby gets fussy and mommy gets hurt.
No one tells you that they have a veracious appetite in the beginning in order to establish your supply. My advice: cancel your plans, grab some snacks and the remote and camp out on the couch for a few days/weeks until things settle down.
No one tells you how awkward it can be to feed your baby in public. I don’t mind; I really don’t. But, sometimes people think it is weird or obscene that you would ever dare to feed your child in their presence. Grow some thick skin and smile at those people when they pass by.
No one tells you how helpful it would be to buy a shield and pump some bottles to give yourself a break. My doula mentioned it to me one night when I was at my wit’s end, and it was a lifesaver. Keep those ideas in the back of your head for if you ever run into a stumbling block.
No one tells you there is about 1 million issues that can occur and need to be trouble-shooted (did I make that word up?). Find a good lactation consultant, go in and have her observe you feeding your baby. Take her advice. If that doesn’t work. Repeat.
2.There are many small things in life you will take for granted.
This list is exhaustive and growing each and everyday, but here are some small things I am missing right now: going to the bathroom alone, running out of the house to pick up something “real quick,” finishing cooking dinner (or any task, really) without having to stop and feed a baby, leaving the house for an indefinite amount of time because no one needs you to survive, sleeping through the night (duh), finding time to shower before noon most days.
Even though I have a long list of things I miss, there are so many more things that I have gained. Such as…
3. You will feel crazy love.
Yes. It’s true that everyone tells you that you will never know a love like the love you have for your child. I was totally prepared to be in awe of my new capacity to love, but I wasn’t prepared for how it would actually feel. It is filled with tears of joy, pride, cheek squishing, content sighs, worries about the future and total bliss. I love thinking about the fact that my mom loves me just as much as I love Ellen. Pretty cool. Thanks, Mom!
I will say this though: please don’t feel guilty if your first thought after giving birth isn’t total love for the being you just met. My first thoughts: “I’m not pregnant anymore!”, “Whoa, that was insane!”, “Did that just happen?”, “Am I ok?” I think that’s pretty normal.
4.Babies do anything anywhere.
OK, this is another one that is pretty obvious, but you just don’t think about it until you have a baby. At home, Ellen cries when she needs something and poops really loudly. The first few times I took her out in public, she did these things, and I my first thought was “Geez! We’re in public!” But, then I quickly realized that she doesn’t care or even know where we are. She just needs to be cared for. And, frankly, most people don’t care if you have to change your baby on a bench because there is no bathroom in sight.
5. You have to talk all day long.
Leading up to Ellen’s birth, I was home alone quite a bit. I had left my job so I could stay at home with her, and there was quite a bit of time until she arrived. During this time, I would go out and about or call people during the day, but most of the time, I was by myself and not talking (because I am not crazy). I had lots of time to think and be by myself, and I really love my alone time.
With a baby in the picture, you’re talking ALL.DAY.LONG. Anytime she is awake, she is with me and I am talking to her. I am sure this habit will increase as she starts to grow older and can talk herself. But, for now, I am so tired of talking by the end of the day, I can barely ask Mike how his day was.
6. Phantom baby kicks happen.
I was sitting on the couch last week when I started feeling something move around in my stomach. I just smiled and thought to myself, “Oh she’s moving around!” Then, I realized I was not pregnant anymore, and I was, in fact, holding my child in my arms. These phantom movements feel so real that sometimes I am convinced that I am pregnant again somehow. It makes me miss having her inside of me. Weird, huh?
7. Every mom is unsure.
This is another one that you hear many times before having a baby, but you don’t really understand it until you have your own. You start experiencing situations that you have NO IDEA how to handle, so you call people who you believe to be all-knowing, only to find that they have no clue either. You can talk it out together and come to your best guess, but no one really knows what they are doing. Parenting is a big ol’ guessing game, turns out. But, I am learning that the one thing you must do is make all decisions confidently and with your child’s best interest at heart. If it doesn’t turn out, you can’t have regrets if you did what you thought was best.
What did you realize after you had a baby that no one ever told you? Tell me in the comment section below.
Hm do you have to approve comments now? Or did mine not go through? Oh well. Basically love the Ellen update and baby kicks creep out James and I.
the rookie years says
LOVE THIS! You hit it all dead on! And I’m right there with you when you talk about your first thought after having Ellen. As soon as I had my son, I was like ‘what the heck just happened’. I was almost in a daze. It didn’t sink in for a while!
LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, and your honesty!
Gretchen Linenger says
Thanks for sharing.:-)
Ah yes, I agree with everything on this list! :)
Smart Cents Review says
OMGosh! What a great post! I am sitting here nodding at everything as I am reading! LOL
One thing that gets me every time is the sudden loss of knowing what I’m doing. With every one of my children, there has been a time where I just freeze and say to myself, “Wait! What do I do?” Whether it’s when they are first born and crying for no reason (that I can figure out, anyway)… or if they suddenly develop a rash… or suddenly start refusing food… you get the idea. No one ever told me there would be times that you just forget what to do! LOL
I was so afraid I was going to miss the baby stage, then the toddler stage, and so on. No one ever told me I was going to love every stage, even into adulthood. Then comes grandchildren. The greatest thing I ever did was become a mom :)
Marissa teslak says
oh no lady – 1 and 2 you were warned about. In fact..the week before you had ellen, I said “get in your car, drive somewhere, by something – anything, and walk out”! and the breastfeeding thing, now that I had to stop, I don’t even remember the pain anymore…but I remember crying non-stop. Crying from pain, crying from worrying about making enough, crying that I wasn’t doing it right. No one tells you about the epidural you need for breastfeeding!
And you’ll tell another mom this, and the other mom will think “nah, breastfeeding can’t be that hard…she just must have had trouble” those little baby suckers….OUCH!
love reading all your thoughts and stories bupa, keep it up <3
Wow what an interesting post! I don’t have any kids yet, but in a weird way, I feel a bit more prepared after reading this. You always hear about the bliss, but rarely the down-sides. Thank you for sharing these experiences, I really enjoyed reading =)
PS. Ellen is the cutest baby!
Thanks for sharing! I agree with Linda – now I feel at least a little more prepared and well-informed for that day down the road.