Being a new mom is amazing, exhilarating and totally insane.
You did it. You pushed a watermelon-sized human out of your most fragile yet incredibly accommodating body part. Now you have a squirmy, gassy, crying bundle of joy.
And you probably have a lot of questions too. I sure did, and still do.
When you’re pregnant, it can seem like everyone has advice for you. People come out of the woodwork to tell you about diaper-changing tricks, breastfeeding stories and sleep training. Sometimes it’s useful, but most times, especially when you’re still pregnant and busy dealing with that whole trip, you can’t really absorb all the information. You just want to be pregnant and aren't ready to think about being a new mom. You might also think all those hormones will kick in and do the work for you once the baby arrives. (Which they kind of do.)
But there’s a whole lot going on simultaneously and it’s really hard to be prepared for all of it. A list like this may help. It may make things more confusing too, so read on at your own discretion!
1. Ladies, there will be a lot of emotions. A LOT. You know when you’re on your period and fighting with your man and “The Notebook” is on TV and you had a really sucky day at work and your BFF just got engaged to a guy you kind of hate? Pregnancy hormones can feel like that a good chunk of the time. But once that baby is out of you? It can feel like that multiplied by an asteroid hurtling towards earth while your mother-in-law is at your house for the weekend. Get ready for the ride.
2. You love your partner but want to gouge his eyes out. Feeling overwhelmed, irritated and angry is part of the new mothering process as noted above. It will pass. Or he’ll learn to read braille. We all make adjustments as parents.
3. Breastfeeding is weird, painful, and beautiful. It seems simple enough: baby + boob = new mom getting that much needed staring off into space time. But it doesn’t always work that way. In fact, it can be a real nightmare for many women. Even if you have to supplement, you can still encourage that healthy bonding between you and your baby. Just do what you need to make it work for you and your child.
4. You will regret Googling any type of rash, fluid, sound or substance that appears on or comes out of your baby. Seriously. Just call your pediatrician and go in for a visit if need be and avoid the harrowing repercussions of Google images-induced panic.
5. Crying happens. Babies seem to recover more quickly than the parents. Seriously.
6. Sleeping is more of a skill than you ever thought before. While my daughter has been a great sleeper for well over a year now, I suffer from chronic insomnia after years of being a champion sleeper. Why? Because those initial months are so sleepless that not only did my body seem to forget how to do it after that, but how in the world am I supposed to “sleep soundly” when I have to keep an ear and eye open for the rest of my life to make sure my daughter isn’t being eaten by a pack of wild raccoons or something?
7. Which is also why there will be times when you have the urge to try and shove your baby back up inside your body: because you love them so much that you want them as close as possible (and you’ll sleep better, right?). Even now that my daughter is 17 months old, I still look at her and think my uterus could make the room and that we’d all be much happier if she just stayed inside me most of the day.
8. Your child will poop in your tub.
9. Your child will poop on your floor.
10. Your child will poop on your furniture.
11. Your child’s poop won’t gross you out nearly as much as you think.
12. You will talk about poop way more than you ever imagined, even while you’re eating, and often to childless people who will be way more grossed out than you think.
13. Comparing happens, and it sucks. Your baby isn’t walking yet but the neighbor’s is? So what? Babies really do develop at their own pace and a few weeks or months difference doesn’t make your baby any less amazing. Don’t worry, and don’t Google terms like “delayed development.” For your own peace of mind, just don’t do it.
14. You’ll always be waiting to “get the hang of parenting.” Yes, some things get easier. But babies grow so fast that just when you think you’ve finally figured something out, it’s over, gone, and never coming back unless you have another child. The new normal doesn’t really exist with children even though we really want it to. So we’re always playing catch-up.
15. Do what’s right in the moment. Life doesn’t always happen by the book. And sometimes, you have to make a choice that’s better for you and your child that goes against a parenting philosophy. So what? Making exceptions is part of parenting. It doesn’t mean the whole system crumbles. It’s great to have routines and structure and it’s totally okay to step outside of those lines when a situation calls for it.
16. You become way more aware of how fleeting life is and how fast it goes by when watching someone grow and change so fast every day. I think this is why parents have that dazed look in their eyes. It’s not from the lack of sleep, it’s from the sheer WTF head-spinning we do as we watch our children change overnight. It puts everything in perspective, and it’s totally freaking nuts.
17. You get to fall in love with a new human every day. They change so gosh-darn fast that every morning it’s like you’re meeting a new child. Yesterday they crawled and today they walk. And just think, in a dozen years, they’ll probably tell you they hate you and you should leave them alone. And you thought potty-training was going to be a challenge.
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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Mom and baby image via Shutterstock