I remember the feelings of nervousness, anxiety, excitement, and joy while being pregnant and preparing for my first child to be born. Like every woman out there (well, I feel like all women must have felt like this too,) I read and read and thought the many things of how I’ll do this certain thing one way and this other thing this other way. I won’t fall into these traps that I see my mom friends posting about on Facebook.
Little did I know, life and my still growing fetus were in cahoots on the big cosmic joke, laughing behind my back. Luckily for me, these were all things I never could have known without having my own child. It doesn’t matter how much advice other moms give you. You might listen to it or you might ignore most of it (like I did… after all, you get more advice while pregnant than you ever did in a guidance counselor’s office in high school.) But let me tell you this, I’m incredibly glad that I could not fathom these things while pregnant because I may have run for the hills to hide from the child growing in my belly. Here are five things I’m glad I didn’t know before having a child.
1. The pure exhaustion of a newborn. There is nothing like it. I’ve been exhausted before in my life. I’ve worked a sixteen hour shift in an ER (not as clinical staff) with no preparation and stayed awake most of the following day (no A/C and 90+ weather helps with that.) But none of that ever prepares you for what happens when you have a 2 day old baby in your home making all kinds of new noises and waking every 3 hours like an alarm clock for poop. (Yes, all of you new parents remember the new poop diapers that constantly appeared.) Your body is numb, your mind is on autopilot. There is nothing you can do but just let your mind and body work on automatic while you sit back and try not to explode from the sheer exhaustion you’re feeling. And because every time you look down at the sweet face of your baby, your heart melts a little more and grows another size or two.
2. The newborn exhaustion goes away, but you’re still exhausted. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t get enough REM cycles in to feel fully rested. You do everything you can some days to sleep every single minute that precious baby is sleeping. You take turns with your partner for being on baby duty so that one of you can manage a full sleep cycle before hearing the baby cry. It really doesn’t matter. The baby changes and so does their schedule. And with it, so does your “in a few minutes I might be rested enough to do something” sleep.
3. There is no such thing as a schedule for a baby. Every time you finally feel like you’re getting into a set rhythm, the baby changes. Suddenly they’re not tired at their “normal” nap time. Suddenly they skip a poop (ok, that one is not so bad.) Oh, they liked to stay awake and look at their toes? Guess what? Now they’re tired and cranky because they’d rather go back to napping at this time. Hey, little baby finally slept for six hours straight for about a week. All of a sudden they’re waking up every hour. Well, I might be exaggerating a little. But the schedule change thing still hasn’t stopped and mine is about to be 18 months old.
4. Baby poop. There really is nothing like it. Meconium is a very not so special thing. You can read about it and see all the pictures of baby poop you want. But until you change those diapers, YOU. ARE. NOT. PREPARED. Especially when you hit the ones that magically flow out of the diaper and all the way up baby’s back. (Mr. H had the unfortunate experience of dealing with that diaper. Lucky me!)
5. Acid Reflux. We all know what heartburn feels like and the many problems of indigestion. Unfortunately, with a tiny baby, this also now means no sleep for more than an hour at a time. At least until you can manage to find the position that puts their whole digestive tract in order to stop the upflow. Which for us meant not until the baby started to be comfortable in the swing or sleeping on mommy. And sometimes it also meant a bit of tummy sleep.
Despite these five things, I still love my child with all my heart. And I’m super crazy and despite all these things, I want to have at least one more child. I’m ready to do it all again some day and ready to have my heart melt even more.