When I found out I was pregnant, a friend of mine was kind enough to loan me a few books on pregnancy and parenthood and I read through a lot of it to try to prepare myself for what was ahead. They were books that told me all about my child’s development, all about how to begin breastfeeding, what to expect those first few nights – but nothing in those books prepared me for what parenthood was really about.
- Your body will change… and it will never be the same again. I’m not talking about stretch marks and belly flab (which pretty much will never go away), I mean everything changes. Your metabolism, your skin, your joints – no part of you is safe.
- Breastfeeding is natural, but it also hurts like hell. Everyone told me it would just take a few days for the pain to go away and a few weeks for me to get fully used to it – they were wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m ten months in and even now, it’s not always a pleasant experience, and the first couple of months were complete torture. (Side note: if you’re not breastfeeding, someone will inevitably think it’s wrong that you didn’t try, or that you didn’t want to, or that you couldn’t and you didn’t try hard enough to do it. Screw them. You’re feeding your baby, and that automatically makes you a good mom. It’s no one’s business whether you breastfeed or formula-feed anyway.)
- Your relationship will completely change, either for better or for worse. The first couple of months, there were times I hated my boyfriend. (Thankfully, once I was no longer so sleep-deprived and my hormones had finally leveled out, this feeling went away, but it still made things hard.)
- Speaking of relationships, remember the sex life you had before the baby? It’s pretty much gone. When you’re in the mood, your child will be awake and wanting to play with you. When your child is finally down for a few hours, one of you will be too tired. When you finally do have some time (and energy!) to spend together, you’ll be interrupted by screaming from the other room.
- You cannot train a child. They are not dogs, they are human beings and each one of them is precious and unique in their own way. Embrace the chaos, it’s the only way you’ll survive.
- “Sleeping through the night” doesn’t actually mean “sleeping through the night.” For a baby, “sleeping through the night” is a good four or five hour stretch and most babies don’t ever do that until they’re much, much older. For a while, I thought there was something I was doing wrong, because my child wouldn’t sleep more than an hour or two at night. Even now, she wakes up at least two or three times a night.
- Baby poop smells – worse than you can even imagine, especially once your baby starts solids. Learn to hold your breath during diaper changes and make sure you’ve invested in a good diaper genie.
- Don’t stress out about the housework you didn’t get to today. If you have the choice between finishing up that last load of dishes or playing with your child, do the latter. Housework can always wait until tomorrow, but your child will grow up before you know it.
- There will always be someone there to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. Every mom who’s been there and done that will give you advice whether you want it or not. Just smile and nod. In the end, simply trust your instincts, as they’re the most valuable tool you can use when it comes to being a parent. Sure, they’ve been there, done that, but at the end of the day, every child is different and you know your child better than anyone else. (And those people who try to give you advice and have never even had children? Laugh at them. And tell them that they have no business giving you advice.)
- You will experience love in a way that you’ve never experienced before. Nothing will ever be the same.
At the end of the day, though, I wouldn’t change a thing.