When I was pregnant I took classes, purchased books, and downloaded apps so that I could learn everything about pregnancy and motherhood. I thought I was as prepared as someone could be for parenthood. I was wrong. There’s so much that isn’t covered or discussed. Here are the top ten things I wish I knew before becoming a mother.
You can plan and read all you want but your baby will be an individual. What may have worked for you as a child or the children in your life may not work for your child. Even if you work/worked with children or have a family with a bunch of little ones, yours will still surprise you. You can plan all you want, but there are things you cannot control because your child will be unique.
2. Sleep regressions/leaps.
Oh, I dare you. Google this, please. I myself am guilty of thinking, well, at 4-6 months I’m sure things will be a lot easier. I thought every month that passed by would mean I would be getting more sleep and a schedule would start to unfold. This is so laughable. I’m embarrassed that I even thought this. As your baby grows they go through sleep regressions and leaps. During this time (which happens every few weeks) they learn a new skill like learning to make sounds or move a little bit more and it disrupts their sleeping pattern. They begin to wake more, become cranky and fussy, and it throws everything out of whack. Throw in teething too. Just when you get a handle on things, sh*t gets crazy, for a lack of better words.
Regardless of what season your baby is born you’ll be told by your pediatrician to play it safe and keep your baby away from crowds and public places in the beginning. I had my daughter during the summer and I thought we would be able to go everywhere because it wasn’t cold or flu season but this wasn’t the case. Babies are so susceptible to colds and viruses especially when they are newborns. Our pediatrician advised that we limit how many people she was around. Obviously, you can’t lock yourself away and throw away the key but in the beginning you’re options are very limited.
4. Postpartum blues/depression.
Baby blues happens to almost all women postpartum but I wasn’t warned. I also wasn’t aware of postpartum depression which is also very common. It can happen to anyone whether you suffered from depression in the past or not. It doesn’t matter how badly you wanted children, how happy you were to become pregnant, how much money you make, or where you live. Part of it is hormonal and the rest is just the adjustment period. Becoming a mom is hard! It’s suggested that PPD can be helped by getting lots of sunlight, sleep, exercise, and eating healthy. But who can do that with a newborn? I wish I knew I wasn’t the only one and that I needed to seek help from my doctor. My advice is to speak up and ask for help. Take care of yourself because if not, it’ll only get worse. You may think it cannot and will not happen to you, but it will and it can if you try to be superwoman. There are various treatments for PPD and your doctor will discuss you options with you.
5. Struggle with breastfeeding or choosing the right formula.
I thought breastfeeding would be easy! After all, women have been doing it forever. Plus I wouldn’t have to worry about bottles! Oh, the joy. Yeah right! Breastfeeding is difficult and pumping is even harder. It’ll take up your whole life. There are so many rules to it and such a strict and ridged schedule to be successful at it. You have to be half-crazy to be successful. And formula? That’s not as easy either. Most babies go through a few or more options before you can find one that they can tolerate. You may have to deal with a lot of spitting up, fussiness, adverse reactions, and so on before you choose the right one for your baby.
6. Losing friends.
It will happen. Just as you may have had unrealistic expectations about becoming a parent, so will your friends. Some will expect you to be the same way or to still be as available as you were before. Some just don’t like or care for children and will just disappear. Even some with children may pull back if their children are not around the same age as yours. It’s a big adjustment and not all friendships will survive the change.
7. The unsolicited advice.
I had no idea how many people would come forward and tell me how to raise my child. It happens to all parents especially new parents. People will not wait for you to ask for advice, they will not say it kindly, they’ll just tell you. Even though some will mean well, it’ll still sting a bit. And some will be super judgmental on your parenting style and choices you make as a parent. Unsolicited advice will come from those closest to you and strangers.
8. Mom guilt.
Even if you do everything right, you’ll think you can do better. You’ll put yourself last. You’ll feel guilty for not enjoying every minute of parenting. It’s so hard to find this magical “balance” every one talks about especially in the beginning. I know I was overwhelmed, depressed, and anxious during that first year especially. And I felt so guilty for missing my old life—sleeping in, doing what I wanted, and just being myself. Now I know it was just mom-guilt and I was worried about not being perfect.
9. The constant worrying.
I wasn’t prepared for how much I would worry as a mom. I’d wonder if my daughter was drinking enough or getting enough milk, if she was happy, if she was meeting all of her milestones on time. Sometimes they’ll cry and you won’t be able to figure out why or they’ll be fussy or have trouble sleeping. You’ll drive yourself crazy thinking you’re doing something wrong when in fact you’re probably not.
10. The sudden adjustment.
Being pregnant slowly progresses. Over 9 months your body changes and you have some time to adjust, at least that’s how I felt. Even if it’s a difficult pregnancy, it’s not something that happens overnight. It’s a process. But you literally become a parent instantly. You prepare for this moment but there are always things you wished you knew or did differently. That adjustment period is wild. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh and cry all at once, you’ll question your life, you’ll be the happiest and the saddest all at once. It’ll be the best of times and the worst of times. Don’t let the happy pictures on social media fool you, adjusting to being a parent is something I can’t fully explain. You’re entire life changes in an instant.
What else would you add to the list?