Parenting is a blissful process where everything runs seamlessly and we truly know everything about how life with kids is supposed to be. Right?! Not quite.
When we actually become parents we realize that we didn’t know as much as we thought we did during those naive kidless and clueless days.
Before our kids invade our existence we make a lot of assumptions. We ask for advice. We plan. We prepare. We research. We think we know everything. We don’t really realize before that bundle of joy comes home that we don’t really know what the crap to expect.
All we can do is survive those first sleepless and exhausting weeks while trying to make the most of it.
Parents are hard on themselves. Moms especially. There are a lot of things I’ve learned as a Mom that I wish I knew then. There are topics that no one likes to talk about or admit to. This is about some of those things.
Expectations are Bullshit
It doesn’t matter what Suzy WhatsHerName or Mrs WhoTheCrap experienced with their baby. Every baby is different. You are different. It’s not their life or lifestyle. What you experience with your baby is all about you and no one else matters.
Don’t compare yourself or your baby to anyone else. WHO CARES?! Why? Because if people are saying their days with their newborns were flawless, perfect and easy they are either A) Lying B) On some strong painkillers C) Forgetful or D) It does NOT matter.
Speaking of forgetful… do not expect to remember everything. No matter if you just pushed twins out of your birthing hole or you adopted a brand new human – life changes quickly. This is a time of forgetfulness. You will probably forget what you are doing often. You may forget what life was like before your baby. You are probably going to forget to shower… often. You will have moments where you forget what you should be doing or what you read in all those parenting books.
It’s okay. You will figure it out. Focus on the moment and do what feels best for you and yours.
If people offer to help then take them up on it. It’s okay to take help. It’s also okay to need it. It’s even more okay to ask for it.
Also? Screw the books. Those are vague guidelines. No one can know how to be a perfect parent from reading a damn book. If that really were the case every baby would come with a manual and parents wouldn’t spend so much time googling whatever the crap made you stumble upon these words.
Every baby is different. Every parent is different. Rinse. Repeat.
Newborns are Sleep Demons and Eat Away At Your Soul
Yes, you won’t sleep much.
Just accept that. It’s rough.
No, no… see above where I said to not compare yourself.
A lot of people say they had these magical newborns who sleep a lot. Some people talk about how they had these amazing sleep techniques that got their newborn to sleep through the night. Simple fact is this – your newborn is going to sleep however it wants and you gotta roll with it. Just give up and accept that if your newbie human prefers to sleep on your chest it’s best you get that nap in sitting upright. Sleep survival is key. Sleep training comes later.
You are NOT failing if your baby is a sleep demon who only allows you two hours of sleepy bliss at a time.
Full disclosure – I have three biological children and all had different sleep habits as newborns. My oldest was the most horrible sleeper on the planet. I cursed my friends who said their babies slept through the night right away. I, jokingly, called all of them liars. My now seven month old started sleeping through the night right away. It happens. All you sleep deprived parents can freely hate me. It’s cool. I’ve been there. The first time Mom in me wants to kick my currently fully rested Mom me in the ass. I bring this up because there was nothing different that I did. My kids just popped out programmed with certain sleep cycles in the early days and I had to adjust accordingly.
When your kids are older these phases of frustration vanish and are replaced with new things that damage your calm. It gets better. It changes. Sometimes, it gets worse. You forget it was ever an issue and you keep moving forward. One thing I’ve learned from being a parent is that you just have to get through those hurdles and know it won’t always be rough. Laugh when you can… even if it’s that loopy, weird and sleep deprived laughter that makes you feel a little crazy.
Newborns Are Like Drunks Who Can’t Hang
Newborns puke unexpectedly.
They seem to be in a daze all the time.
They pass out at the oddest times, in the strangest positions and wake up for apparently no damn reason.
Sometimes they crap themselves and get it over EVERYTHING.
They can make things awkward and not even realize it.
Did I mention they puke unexpectedly??
You can’t expect much out of them until this phase passes.
I don’t remember what I expected as a first time Mom with my newbie human adorable… blob. Newborns just don’t do much. I affectionately call this the blob phase. It’s a great thing that our blobby babies don’t come out walking and talking because those first weeks everyone needs to rest and bond.
Your Newbie Human is Taking it Easy… YOU Need the SAME!
No matter if you had a vaginal birth, c-section or adopted your newbie baby those first weeks should be about rest, bonding and adjusting. Becoming a parent is emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting, but it is the most rewarding thing you will ever experience. Life isn’t always pure bliss and that is okay! Those first few weeks may be the hardest adjustment you have ever experienced… but, it does get easier.
Yes, everyone says to sleep when your baby does. Just do it. Everything else can wait. Sleep exhaustion sucks and it’s a real thing. Don’t push yourself because of some cleaning.
Be selfish. You need to tell yourself it’s okay to be selfish. If you don’t really want everyone coming over then don’t. Put your foot down or totally avoid them. Just know that your needs and desires in those first days are important. If you don’t want anyone coming over so you don’t have to worry about getting dressed, being upright or sharing your baby then you do not have to.
I know that is all easier said than done.
If Your Baby Came Out of You – Your Body Will Do Weird Shit
You will bleed for around four weeks as your body sheds lochia. It can be a lot. Some women bleed more and longer than others. Blood clots feel weird. You will not be able to use tampons. Invest in the biggest and most comfortable pads out there. A lot of women use Depends those first few weeks and they prevent a lot of leakage!
Yes, depends. You’re welcome.
Stitches suck no matter where they are or how many. Take damn good care of them.
I loved my squirt bottle, sits baths and tucks medicated pads for relief. Buy a lot of them! Laying witch hazel pads inside your pads is the most soothing thing that I learned after my third labor.
It’s probably going to hurt to pee if you evacuated your baby through your vagina. Pouring warm water over your lady parts helps soothe the pain. Unless you are awesomely lucky those first poops are going to hurt. You were probably prescribed stool softeners. Love and cherish them. Try to avoid eating things that back you up.
Stock up on ice packs, wrap them in a cloth, put them on your chair/bed and sit on them often for relief.
If you are breastfeeding your boobs will turn into giant, painful and rock hard milk torpedos when your milk comes in after birth. That’s how I felt. Engorgement is a weird feeling. It will pass.
Your nipples will hurt during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. I’m not going to get into all the details in this post… but, I can say from experience that if part of your nipple falls off because of breastfeeding that it eventually grows back.
If you are formula feeding people can be judgy. Ignore them. Whatever made you decide to bottle feed is YOUR choice.
If you are nursing don’t judge formula feeders. Focus on your own boobs, please.
Some women swell up like Violet from Willy Wonka after birth. My feet never swelled during pregnancy but, they did after my last labor. I retained water, looked like I had balloon feet and it was painful at times. It went away, thankfully.
During pregnancy your body went through a lot of changes. Don’t expect it to be the same. Embrace your motherly body changes. The first time I looked at my reflection after my oldest was born I thought, “Holy shit, I look like a kangaroo!” – flabby midsections and lack of elasticity is typical as are stretch marks. Embrace those tiger marks, mamas.
Your emotions may be all over the place. Hormones can be evil. If you feel off, it’s a good idea to educate yourself and be aware of postpartum depression. I refer everyone I know to the amazing site Postpartum Progress that is a plethora of information and support. A lot of the articles on Postpartum Progress are good for anyone to know to help get over the emotional transitions of becoming a parent.
If you are adoptive parents, Dad or “The Other Mother” then just know that knowledge is power. You are welcome for all the lovely descriptions and visuals.
Finding the Silver Lining
Newborns are exhausting.
It’s a life changing event.
It is often difficult… and more difficult than most want to talk about.
You have a free pass to be a lazy mess.
You have an excuse to nap often with the best smelling snuggle buddy.
Newborns smell amazing!
You can be a creepy baby stalker and stare at your newborn while he/she sleeps and see all of their strange expressions.
Or stare just because newborns are adorable.
Enjoy the adorable clothes.
Smile, talk and make will faces at your newborn. Soon… your newborn will reciprocate.
Find the people in your life who do not suck and share all the awesomeness you can. Vent when you need to.
Make yourself a priority as much as your baby.
But, no matter what road you took to become a parent just enjoy the shit out of it. Enjoy it in your way. Embrace the things you dig and not what other people say.
Welcome to parenthood. I hope you enjoy the shit out of it.
This isn’t medical advice or anything to replace a doctor’s word. If you are concerned about your well-being or your body ALWAYS seek a doctor’s help. These opinions are my opinions and the same thing I would tell any friend sitting in the same room as me.