Becoming a mother is one of the sweetest adventures in life; it's a time filled with wonder, excitement, and love. But there are a few things you don’t know as you anticipate your little one — or at least I didn’t know them. You’ve heard rumors of these facts, but you casually brushed them off. I did the same thing before I had baby James last year, and I wish I hadn’t. So I'm sharing the top five things I wish I'd known before giving birth.
5. You probably won’t scream all through your labor (with an epidural).
Right now, there's probably a part of you that wants to keep that baby inside you. Indefinitely. That’s perfectly understandable. Hollywood makes labor look like torture. But don’t panic. Thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, for most, labor is nothing to worry about. There's no screaming. You won't have 50 people hovering over you. I found it to be a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. Contracts are intense but the pain is bearable. And no, the epidural does not hurt, so stress no more.
4. Once baby arrives, you won’t get any sleep.
At least not for the first few months. Your newborn needs to eat every 2.5 to 3 hours. Since the timing starts from the beginning of the feeding, by the time your little one has eaten, you've got two glorious hours before you start the process all over again. So make peace with this reality now: More than two consecutive hours of sleep will be a rare luxury this first year. Don’t worry. Instead, learn to sleep when your baby does. You'll feel much better for it.
3. You may experience slight buyer’s remorse.
During the first few weeks of your precious newborn’s life, you may look at your spouse and say, “Okay, this baby’s real parents need to come get him, now.” Don’t beat yourself up if you have these moments, most new parents do. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby; it just means you feel overwhelmed. Give yourself time to adjust. Soon you’ll be a laughing, smiling, proud mama.
2. For a time, you will no longer have rational thoughts.
Tasks you thought you'd handle pre-baby, such as breast-feeding, bottle-making, laundry, driving, showering, blow-drying your hair, will suddenly seem mind-boggling. You will analyze (and agonize) over the tiniest details. These new thoughts will crowd your mind: Is my baby eating enough? Is he spitting up his entire bottle? Is this laundry detergent gentle enough for his skin? Is he getting enough tummy time? Is his poop supposed to be that color? Is he gaining enough weight? Will I hear him crying if I take a shower? Is this amount of crying normal? How will I ever leave the house again? What if we go somewhere and I forget something really important? Like his diaper bag? Or me?
When you're in the throes of a nervous breakdown, remember: you are a smart person. You were once a highly functioning woman. People with less capability than you have had babies, and they survived. You. Can. Do. This.
1. Having a baby really does change your life.
By now, millions of people have told you this. Random people on the street have said as much. And you've merely rolled your eyes and said, “I’m sure it will...” but you’re actually thinking, “Really, come on, how?” I am a normal, responsible human being. I don’t need that much sleep, I don’t bar hop every night, I pay my bills on time. How is one baby going to “change my life” so completely?
Guess what? Everyone was right. Having a baby changes your life because you live, completely, for someone else. Your life is no longer your own. Your choices not only affect you and your spouse, they affect your child. It doesn’t really matter what you feel like doing any more. Had a rough night? Your baby still needs to eat. Have a headache? Your child still wants to play with you. Need to clean the house? Your baby needs requires attention, too.
Yes, this new person will change your life, right down to the tiniest detail. It will feel like the hardest round-the-clock job you've ever taken on. But believe me, it's also the best adventure of your life. You will experience more overwhelming love than you can imagine. You will adore your child and at the end of the day, you will love how your life has changed — because the change is for the better.