I’m sure I’m not the only mama who painted a picture in her head of what things were going to be like. We all do it-we read the books, we talk to other moms, we try to make a plan. Unfortunately, things rarely go how we think they will. These are some of the ways my expectations have differed from reality so far.
1) Birthing the Baby
It was going to hurt, but maybe not as badly as I thought. I’d get through labour. The hard part was going to be the giant head (thanks again for that contribution, hubby!). If it was really bad I’d use laughing gas or if it was worse than that I’d just get an epidural. Hopefully I wouldn’t die.
At one point, I asked the sweet little nurse if she could “please $#!@&*% kill me”. Labour hurt so badly that I couldn’t even form coherent thoughts. The only reason they call it laughing gas is because it’s the biggest joke ever. Soon I was asking for the epidural which was amazing until it WORE OFF 45 MINUTES LATER (why did no one tell me that could happen?!). Pushing was better than labour but after 2.5 exhausting hours Baby H hadn’t moved. My c-section was the best thing that ever happened to me. If we’d had a boy, I probably would have named him after that wonderful anesthesiologist.
Don’t worry, I apologized to the nurse the next day.
2) Feeding The Baby
From what I understood, breastfeeding was the perfect way to feed my child. It would be quick, free, and require no sterilizing. I figured I’d breastfeed every few hours for 15-20 minutes and we’d be golden. I would breastfeed exclusively until 6 months, then add solids and continue to breastfeed until she was a year old AT LEAST. Think of the money we’d save on formula! Think of the precious time spent with baby! Think of how much healthier she would be! But if I couldn’t produce milk, I’d just use formula and not worry about it.
Hahahahaha. If wet nurses were still a thing I would have hired one by day 2. My kid wants to eat All. The. Time.
Breastfeeding is what I do for most of the day. I could sterilize approximately 73 billion bottles in the time I spend nursing. Sometimes at the end of the day I feel like if I have to touch another human being for even one more second I will need to be hauled off to a padded room somewhere. I want to quit every day, but then I look at my little one and feel a crushing sense of guilt. How can I take away her favourite thing in the world?
We are still mainly breastfeeding at 3 months and I am so proud to have made it this far. I give her formula when breastfeeding is inconvenient (like in the middle of the grocery store). That little bit of formula is literally the only reason I still feel like I can do this. I don’t have long-term goals for how long I plan to breastfeed any more; every day is a win.
When I was a nanny, the little 10 month old I looked after slept between 2-4 hours a day. I figured newborns would sleep way more than that. I’d have plenty of time to do chores, make meals, and even pick up those adult colouring books I’d been too busy for when I was still working. She probably wouldn’t sleep through the night for a while but that would be fine, since I’d just grab a nap when she did. Mat leave would be like vacation.
Nope nope! Baby H is not a napper. 2 hours a day would be astounding. I may get a few 20 minute cat naps on my lap. The second I try to use my ninja skills to move her to her crib or put her in someone else’s arms her eyes pop open immediately and that’s the end of that. Instead of colouring peacefully all afternoon, I think longingly about how nice it would be to have a shower. When bed time comes, Baby H and I are both exhausted. She sleeps so well at night, and I am so grateful that she’s chosen to bestow mercy on me in this manner. If only I’d be able to stop myself from waking up to check on her, I might actually get some rest.
4) Going Out
Babies are super portable. Once she’s fed she will probably be happy to be on the go for at least 2-4 hours. It will be easy to take her places because she’ll sleep in the carseat. We can go for walks, do activities, grocery shop, and socialize! Going out will be a great way to help me unwind.
Whoever said that babies are portable never tried to carry a baby in one of those infant seats. The seat alone was heavier than I was allowed to lift after my c-section. Then I wasn’t able to drive until I was healed. By the time I was good to go, the baby weighed 12 pounds. Right now, she’s over 17 pounds. Hauling that thing around will either give me epic muscles, or a hernia. I’ll keep you posted.
Also, whether I can go out is entirely up to my beautiful little dictator to decide. If she doesn’t want to grocery shop (or do anything else, for that matter), she will make it abundantly clear. Once, she screamed non-stop while I waited for a price check at the cash. While we waited, the male cashier tried to tell me all about how I just needed to relax about being a mother. It was a delightful experience. Essentially, we never go anywhere without the understanding that we may need to leave. Once I made peace with that, outings have became a lot less stressful.
It will be tough at times, but I will love my baby so much. It will be a wonderful experience.
It is tough at times. So much tougher than I thought it would be. Sometimes I am more tired, impatient, and frustrated than I’ve ever been in my whole life. But man do I love that kid. So, so much more than I ever knew could be possible. And it isn’t just wonderful to be her Mama. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
I’d love to hear from other parents! What were some of your biggest surprises?