While I was pregnant with my first child, the whole “birthing and newborn baby thing” was fascinating to me. I was obsessed with watching shows such as “Bringing Home Baby” and “A Baby Story”. I would scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and would see pictures of my friends smiling and looking beautiful, holding their new pride and joy. As the months passed by, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my daughter, and I felt like I was ready and prepared for everything.
Once my first child made her arrival, things were not as glamorous as I had envisioned in my head, or saw on those television shows, needless to say. There were so many unglamorous situations that I was completely unaware of and unprepared for as I tried to figure out how to be a mother to my newborn baby. There were countless surprises and awkward situations that no one ever talked about or prepared me for during our conversations about motherhood.
So gather around my fellow sisters, and soon to be sisters, of the motherhood club as I share 10 unglamorous things that no one told me about life after labor.
1. My stomach did not magically return to normal after delivery
I delivered my 8 pound bouncing bundle of joy, however my stomach still looked 7 months pregnant. Maternity pants and granny panties, much to my dismay, were still my best friends. Postpartum bodies, especially tummies, are squishy and stretched out. A few months after giving birth things started returning to their new normal. However now, three kids later, with all of the stretch marks and loose skin, my stomach somewhat has the look of a deflated balloon.
2. C-sections are not pleasant, but they are not the end of the world either
Having a C-section hurt like the dickens the first day, but each day I felt remarkably better. I felt the urge to walk hunched over like a 90 year old woman because my stomach felt so tender and strange. My doctor advised me to walk the halls in the hospital a couple of times a day, which is not a pleasant experience since I felt like I had been gutted like a fish. However, I obliged (I am a relentless rule follower) and I waddled past all the moms still in labor, all while cursing my OB-GYN. With each passing day I felt so much better, and after the first four weeks the pain had mostly subsided.
3. I struggled to balance it all
I constantly wondered if I was doing my perfect baby justice, and after I delivered my third child, I hoped that my older two kids were not feeling neglected. My house was a wreck, dinner was take-out more frequently than I liked, and we watched way too much TV, but eventually I got it. I got back into the rhythm of things, and my family adjusted to our newest and smallest member. Pretty soon I was back shopping at Target, all kids in tow, shamelessly stuffing my face with popcorn again.
4. My emotions were extra wacky
I cried. A LOT. This was partially from hormones, partially from lack of sleep, and partially because my body felt like it had been through battle. Baby blues happen to the happiest of people. I am normally not a big crier, but having a baby is hard on a person, physically and emotionally.
5. The nights were long
I started to think that I would never sleep again. My babies’ cries could wake me out of a deep sleep faster than the loudest alarm clock. Waking up every two hours is hard, and I was exhausted. I was so tired that I found myself doing things like accidentally placing the milk in the laundry room and the house keys in the refrigerator, and having no memory of how it happened. However, I blinked, and now my first baby is already in kindergarten while my youngest is almost sleeping through the night, and I’m now obsessively pinning on boards for his first birthday party. Time goes by fast, too fast if you ask me. Just when you think you will never sleep again, you will wake up and realize that you just slept 8 hours straight. That getting sleep again part? Well, that part is marvelous.
6. My husband was eagerly anticipating the “6 week mark”
You know the one I’m talking about, the thumbs up for all things intimate. This happened to be the only part of the doctor’s orders that he took note of and remembered. He had the date circled, highlighted, and starred on his mental calendar.
7. I did not have a period while I was exclusively breastfeeding
Then one day, when I least expected it, my monthly friend was back again. This time with a vengeance. I awkwardly made my way through the feminine hygiene aisle, and I felt like my old self again. My old thirteen-year-old self again, discovering the “joys” of womanhood for the first time. Who knew so many new products all in new shiny packaging could come out in two years?!
8. I had very important decisions to make, and everyone had an opinion
From circumcision to vaccines, swaddlers to binkies, I was forced to make decisions as soon as my little ones took their first breaths. Every choice felt life changing, and everyone gave me their two cents. To top it all off, everyone had conflicting ideas. For example, Great Aunt Mildred told me, “Let that baby cry it out, your baby will be spoiled”, and my girlfriends told me, “Hold that sweet baby!” My advice to new moms is this: Do your own research, ask your closest friends, and go with your mommy gut because you know what’s best for your baby.
9. A large portion of my day was spent cleaning up poop
And baby pee, and spit up, and breast milk. But this all became oddly normal. Blowouts would happen in the most inopportune times, and I often wondered how someone so small could make a mess so big. My Google history was filled with searches such as “what color is normal baby poop” and “how to get a poop stain off a blouse.” My shirts had milk spots from leaky boobs, and my jeans had pee marks from unexpected pee attacks during diaper changes.
10. I experienced a love that I never knew existed
Most importantly, as I looked into the most precious eyes I had ever seen, I felt such a feeling of pure joy and love. It’s the kind of love that makes you forget all about the pain and makes all of the sweat and tears worth it. It’s the kind of love that will quickly turn me into “mother bear” mode if someone dares to mess with my little ones, and it’s the kind of love that grows deeper everyday.
What are some things that you wish that people had told you about before you had children?