That’s me with my Ruby when she was five hours old. My second-born. The one who rocked my world for the second time in less than two years.
I’ve had four kiddos now. For some reason, people keep thinking each child is my first if they see me with only the baby of the bunch.
Their advice is the same as it was the first time around.
However, there are some things that don’t get said to the first-timers because they are so obvious, we feel they must already know them (except they don’t), or because they are personal and possibly gross. It’s about to get real in here, ’cause I’m going to tell you things that others won’t.
This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂
1) The postpartum period is ROUGH.
You will look at yourself and your new child and wonder if this is real life. It’s completely surreal! But, the hormonal rollercoaster is not so fun. We have all heard of the baby blues, and if you’re like the majority of other women on this earth, you will go through it to a certain extent.
You might reflect upon the things you’ve done in the past and miss them greatly (including the pregnancy itself). You might think that you screwed up and wish you could go back and change something; you might even wish you could put the baby back.
Your body will go through a lot of changes. You may lose the weight quickly and be left with saggy skin, you may hold onto the weight for longer than you’d like and feel like the Pillsbury Doughboy’s wife, you may lose it all and gain it right back by drinking too many frappucinos and going through too many drive thrus (ahem, not mentioning any names here).
You will probably not be able to pee or poo properly for awhile, and you may have cuts, with or without stitches, that are healing, which can be painful and itchy and make you afraid to use the bathroom (put that peri bottle to good use!).
You will think of all the terrible things that could happen to your baby and how you might handle it if one of those things happened, and this will drive you nutso.
And even though I am telling you how rough it might get, you will not believe me. About two weeks after birth, you will remember my words as you sob over nursing struggles, lack of sleep, or an identity crisis.
But remember this, too: It’s a very short season. It will get a lot better around a month or six weeks, and be almost completely gone by the time your mini-you is three months old. If it does last longer than that or if you are having thoughts about harming yourself or the baby, please seek help immediately.
2) Breastfeeding is even rougher.
And that’s probably a big part of why the postpartum period is so tough, aside from the sleepless nights, hormonal crash and having temporary body dysmorphic disorder. In the end, you may have to decide which is more important for you and your baby: breastfeeding or your sanity. It’s a tough call.
We all know breast is best for the baby’s health and also for mom’s (we know, we KNOW). But, it’s not for everyone, for a variety of reasons. If you try and don’t succeed, that’s okay, mama. If it works out for you, that’s awesome. If you struggle and struggle and want to give up, that’s okay, too.
I’ve been on both sides and beat myself up HARD for quitting in the past. A lot of moms say that if you can stick with it for six weeks, it’s smooth sailing and the joke’s on the formula feeding moms who have to make, clean, and tote around bottles, not to mention the cost of formula. I don’t necessarily find that to be true. It truly is a difficult and demanding thing to do.
If you are not successful, for whatever reason, you are NOT a bad mother! Know this. Do not beat yourself up, it’s not worth it. Your baby will be fine no matter what you choose here.
3) Babies are pretty gross.
Let’s face it, there are diaper blowouts, spit-ups, sometimes there is projectile vomiting, and at least in the beginning, they have no qualms about peeing on you the second you take their diaper off.
Number one, if there are diaper blowouts and leaks, you need to move to the next size diaper.
Two, projectile vomiting is actually normal, and spitting up means they either ate too much or you’re not stopping to burp them enough, and you should be ready with a burp rag (and change of shirt) at all times. Pretty easy fix on those two (unless your child has a medical condition like reflux, in which case, follow your doc’s advice).
The peeing thing, well, you’ll just have to learn to be quicker.
I guess I don’t get credit for this one since it’s kind of obvious but really, babies are gross — but you will adjust and figure out how to make the grossness not get all over everything you own. The toddler years are honestly worse and harder to control since they can just run away from you at that point.
4) They will consume every part of your life.
Your sleeping time, your eating time, your bathroom time, your relaxing time, and your thoughts when you are away from them (or even if they are right next to you).
You will no longer get a hot meal, unless you go to a drive-thru and eat it on the way back home or sitting in the parking lot while baby sleeps in his carseat.
No more going to the bathroom or taking a shower without wondering when they will start crying or if you’ll have to stop short to go soothe them (they won’t be scarred for life if you let them cry for ten minutes while you shower for the first time in half a week).
Forget about getting an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep for at least a few weeks, and that’s if you get lucky. And you won’t get through a day (or night, since you’ll be awake and thinking) without wondering if you’re somehow screwing them up or making the wrong choices. Rest assured, you are doing great if you are even considering that you might be choosing the wrong things for them. A parent who would actually screw them up wouldn’t give it a second thought. At least that’s what I tell myself.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Rest assured, you are doing great if you are even considering that you might be choosing the wrong things for them. A parent who would actually screw them up wouldn’t give it a second thought. At least that’s what I tell myself.” quote=”Rest assured, you are doing great if you are even considering that you might be choosing the wrong things for them. A parent who would actually screw them up wouldn’t give it a second thought. At least that’s what I tell myself.”]
4½) You really don’t need 8000 newborn outfits.
I had to go back and add this one in because I chuckle to myself when I see moms buying a ton of this stuff. I did it, too, with my first.
When I was pregnant with her, there were these huge consignment sales I loved going to (okay, I still do love them – I just have more self-restraint now). I spent $100 at the first one and had probably twice as much as she really needed to last her for her first six or so months of life. She didn’t even wear half of it and a lot of things were only worn once or twice. I figured I’d get my money back out of it since I bought it at such a great price, and the outfits were SO DARN CUTE, but I didn’t, and it was honestly a waste of money.
Either way, you will tire of changing their clothes once you see how difficult it really is to get their constantly moving arms and their floppy head coordinated enough to easily add and remove clothing.
Plus, they grow out of newborn-sized clothing very quickly. It is huge on them when you’re in the hospital but give it two weeks and they will be growing out of it…just say NO to stocking up on newborn clothing (or booties, or mittens, or pants, or things like overalls that will be a drag to get on them until they can cooperate with you during changing time, maybe around six months).
I should mention here that shoes of any kind until they are able to walk is completely unnecessary and another waste of money, unless of course you enjoy struggling multiple times a day to get them on their tiny and fat feet (which aren’t shaped in a way that will keep the shoe on yet) just to have them kicked off five minutes later. Trying to keep shoes on them is a special kind of torture best reserved for the second year of life.
5) Take all advice with a grain of salt.
Google can give you a vast array of different viewpoints, but they all must only be used to augment the feelings and thoughts you already have on a given topic. If you ask a friend, you can take their opinion in the context of what you know about them and how they live their lives. Trust me, moms who have been doing it longer than you love to give advice and will talk for hours if you ask them a simple yes or no question (like this article…).
In the end, only you can make your own decisions based on what is right for your family. Listen to the advice but feel free to throw it right out the window after the conversation has ended if you don’t think it would be a good idea for your family.
Co-sleeping? Extended breastfeeding? When to start solids? Amount of screen time? Best ways to discipline? All of these will yield a variety of controversial answers and only you can make that final decision. If someone wants to judge you for it, that’s their problem.
One of the hardest things about motherhood is that everyone’s a critic. You will learn to trust your God-given maternal instinct and ignore the naysayers. And that may happen sooner than you think. YOU are the one raising your child; you know him best, and you will be the one dealing with any problems that arise from wrong choices. You will make wrong choices but you will also learn from them. It’s called experience. How you recover from that is what makes the difference. Despite occasional mistakes, you won’t fail your child as long as you are trying to do right by him. It’s really as simple as that.
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