I received warnings, answers, ideas, advice, and lectures when I became a mother. I nodded, smiled, and went on with my life. Some of it was worth noting, but a lot of it I thought was bologna. Turns out I should have listened better. I discovered the hard way that all of the things these veteran moms were saying were actually true! How could I have been so naïve? The phrase “You’ll understand when you’re a mom” finally makes sense now. I get it and wish I took it all seriously instead of brushing it off. Now, I’m the one dishing out advice and learnings.
New moms and moms-to-be, listen up because things are going to get real.
1. You’ll have no time for yourself.
“Me” time does not happen very often. Stella is still non-mobile, but still requires my constant attention. I don’t yet have the heart to have a mom’s night out (even though I should) or pawn her off on someone. I truly enjoy being with her. Because of this, my time in solitude has ended, which I was in denial about before. I thought it would be easier leaving her since we had a slew of babysitting offers. Not having a childless break was a big adjustment for me at the beginning, but it’s the norm now.
2. Breastfeeding is hard – and it hurts.
Although breastfeeding did come easier to me than I thought, I still have moments of doubt, confusion, and of course, pain (especially in the beginning!). From low supply and Stella not gaining weight fast enough, to clogged ducts and burning nipples, breastfeeding has been anything but a walk in the park. On top of that, breastfeeding makes it hard to go out, have others feed her routinely, drink alcohol, lose weight (I’m always eating!), feed in public, and so much more. It is hard, but so worth it.
3. Double the time it takes to do anything.
I thought I’d get a routine down pat from the get-go. I’d have all my things laid out every morning for work, I’d be able to catch up on chores during nap time, and I’d even attempt to start Stella’s scrapbook/memory book. I’m lucky if I even match on any given day! My dishes are stacked up, laundry needs to be done, and Stella’s newborn pictures still haven’t been put on the wall. Every time I start something, she needs me or the dog needs let out or work emails come in. I’ve come to face the fact that it’s no longer my schedule, but everyone else’s I have to abide by.
4. Prepare for sleep deprivation.
I was in denial about this one, too. I didn’t think getting up to feed/change her would be that bad. I mean, it’s what all new moms do, right? Well, I haven’t had an uninterrupted night of sleep in 6 months. She gets up every single night. Let me tell you, running off of fumes for this long is extremely difficult – especially if you’ve had a rough day or are sick. There were nights I cried while feeding her as I nodded off, because I was SO darn tired. But now, it’s become so normal that I can almost time when she wakes. Half-zombie mode is the only way I know, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
5. You’ll worry much more.
I thought getting pregnant was worrisome. Then I got pregnant and I was worried. Then I was in labor and I was worried. And now she’s here, and I’m worried all the time. I worry about her weight, her development, her safety, her health, her future, and happiness. In fact, there hasn’t been a day that she’s been alive that I haven’t worried or thought about her. This definitely doesn’t go away. You’ll be worrying about your baby until the day you die!
6. The relationship with your spouse changes.
We didn’t think having a baby would totally alter our relationship, but it did. We spend most of our time baby-talking with Stella, catching up on sleep, doing loads of poopy laundry and paying daycare bills. I wear leggings and frumpy shirts around the house because it’s what’s comfy. We don’t often take time to sit and have quality conversations, go on date nights every week, and keep the romance alive like we used to. At the same time, I love watching him interact with her. It makes me fall even more in love with him. But, I do know that we need to find balance between loving on our daughter and loving on each other. It’s a totally new love now and it takes some time to adjust to sharing it with a baby.
7. Prepare for the daycare germs.
I’m normally a very healthy person. Getting the sniffles or a cough is almost unheard of, that is until I put Stella into daycare. In the 4.5 months she’s been attending, I’ve come down with 7 colds (one of them being a form of RSV) and the stomach flu. Covered in green crusty snot and slobbering over everything, these little boogers are vectors for bacteria! I was not prepared to take PTO off for me. I’ve been sick more times than my child — talk about role reversal! Being an attentive, loving, and energetic mom when you’re sick (or worse, when you and your baby are both sick) is for the birds. Just a head’s up to hoard some vacation time off for YOU, in addition to your baby.
8. You’ll have “mom brain” even after you’re pregnant.
It’s been 6 months and I’m still forgetting things. I walk into the room and forget why I’m there, I put the milk in the cabinet, put my jeans on inside out, and forget to turn off my flat iron all the time. I don’t know what it is (my guess is lack of sleep – see #4), but prepare yourself for “mom brain” for at least a year (if not more) after childbirth.
9. You’ll buy more stuff for your kids than yourself.
I swore I’d be a minimalist. I received tons of second-hand clothes and purchased some cheap consignment toys earlier on in my pregnancy, so I thought the need to buy more would not exist. Oh, how wrong I was. I peruse Amazon, Target, Babies R Us, and Children’s Place like it’s my job. I don’t even remember the last time I went out and bought a new outfit for myself, went out to eat a nice restaurant, or drank an expensive bottle of wine. All my priorities have shifted and I’m totally fine with that. My needs now come second.
10. Routines are so important.
Mothers hit the nail on the head with this one! Babies thrive on routine. It took us forever to get one down, but we finally did and it’s truly a godsend. Sure, there are times we stray (especially on the weekends), but she knows when wake up time is (promptly at 6 AM) and bedtime is (8:30-9 PM). Naps are hit and miss for us right now, but she’s getting the hang of when it’s quiet time, and we’re understanding her schedule as well. It’s a work in progress, but I’m so thankful she doesn’t have her nights and days mixed up anymore.
11. Going out is a chore.
I wouldn’t say “chore”, necessarily, but challenging for sure. You can’t just make plans last minute anymore. You have to call a sitter, pack the diaper bag, get baby fed and ready to go over to the sitter’s, explain baby’s schedule to whoever is watching her/him, and say goodbye for like 20 minutes (because, you know, you love your baby and leaving her/him is still hard). Hours later, it’s time to go out. We have to plan a few days before going out, especially with friends. Childless friends don’t quite understand the intricate steps it takes to simply go out for dinner. We don’t go out often because of this reason – and because I can’t stand being away from my baby. When we do, it’s a special treat. Two short years ago, we’d be bar hopping until the wee hours of the morning. Oh, how the times have changed.
12. Your friends will change.
I learned this the hard way as well. My friends without children are not in the same mindset as me now. I don’t worry about new clothes, makeup, drinking, shopping, getting manicures, or traveling as much as I did before. Babies take up a lot of time, energy, money, and thoughts. Not that one lifestyle is better than the other; they’re just different. My lifestyle has changed, and I’m finding closer connections with mom friends now, because we can relate and lament over parenting woes. Some friends get it and some don’t. It’s a hard realization, but it’s part of growing up.
13. You’ll understand how important wine is.
I didn’t drink for the longest time after giving birth because I was breastfeeding so often, but that first glass of wine postpartum was heavenly. There is nothing better than drawing a warm bath, lighting a candle and enjoying a glass of wine. Moms need zen and wine takes you there (well, for me anyway). We have so much on our shoulders that we deserve a time out. Not a wine person? Substitute it for sparkling wine or seltzer and just bask in the glory of alone time. You will definitely need it!
14. You’ll be surprised how fast time goes.
I heard this all the time, but never understood until I looked at the calendar and realized maternity leave was ending. And then she was smiling, then talking, then rolling over, then sitting up, then eating cereal/solids. Where did my baby go? Didn’t I just give birth like yesterday? I cannot believe she is 6 months old. Cherish each moment when they’re little. Don’t wish it away because it does go SO incredibly fast. You’ll blink and they’re starting kindergarten! Relish the little moments, the frustrating ones and the ones that make your heart melt. Take lots of photos, videos, take foot and hand prints, and keep those sweet outfits forever.
15. The love you have for your child is unconditional.
Through all the trials, tears, worry, doubt, and sleep deprivation, there is love. So much love you can’t even understand until you’re holding your babies for the first time. Or until you get that first gummy smile. Or the first time baby says “mama” or “I love you”. No matter how many hours (or lack thereof) of sleep you get, if baby pukes on your favorite shirt or poops through his/her new outfit, you will love her/him no matter what. An unconditional love that you’ve never felt before. In your eyes, your baby is perfect, and everything is completely worth it.
What other advice did you receive when you were expecting or as a new mom? Does it hold true today?