What I Didn't Know About Motherhood
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Playing house and playing with dolls was one of my favorite things to do as a little girl. My cousin and I would pretend that we had imaginary kids along with us on vacations. I would lay in bed at night playing out what my life would be like as a mom. I loved thinking about what I would look like as a mom, what my kids would look like, if they'd be boys or girls, how many I'd have, what their names would be, etc. It always seemed like such a far away dream, but now I am living it.
Entering motherhood is quite the adventure. Who am I kidding? It's not just "entering" motherhood that's an adventure... it's all a pretty wild ride. But when you're just starting out for the first time, there are a lot of unknowns. What will my pregnancy be like? What will my delivery be like? Will I have a natural delivery or will I have to have a C-section? Will I gain a lot of extra weight? Will I ever get back to my pre-pregnancy weight? Will I think my newborn is cute even if it looks like an alien? Will they look like me or like their dad? Will they have my personality? Will we have a special bond? Will they sleep through the night? Will they be colicky? Will I ever sleep again? Will I have a life of my own? Will I be a good mom? Can I handle this?
Along with all of these unknowns, as first-time-moms we get FLOODED with advice, tips, and stories from everyone we know... and people we don't know. Some of the most common things we hear as pregnant ladies/first-time moms:
"Cherish every moment... it all goes so fast."
"Make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps!"
"Breastfeeding is such a bonding experience."
"You won't even remember the pain once you see your baby for the first time!"
"Get your baby on a schedule!"
"Never wake a sleeping baby."
"The days are long but the months are so short."
The list goes on. You also get an overwhelming amount of advice regarding which products you absolutely NEED, which ones you can live without, and which ones "worked best" for someone else's child.
Well guess what? Despite all of the advice and everything else I'd heard about motherhood before becoming a mom, there's still so, so much that I couldn't have known, until I lived it myself.
That's what I'm sharing with you here. If you know you want to be a mom but you're terrified to take the leap, if you just found out you're pregnant and are trying to google every possible thing you can about this whole "being a mom" thing, if you just had your first baby or are on your third or sixth baby, I'm hoping that this list of things I've come to know as a first-time mom can comfort you, inspire you, or remind you of how incredible this wild ride really is.
What I Didn't Know About Motherhood [before becoming a mom]:
1. I didn't know what it felt like to feel a human life flip, kick, and flutter around from the inside of my body, and also be able to see it from the outside. Ladies... we can GROW HUMANS. This was so mind-blowing to me. I would sit or lay still for the longest time just so I could feel and see my little love moving around. At first, it feels like a stomach bubble, a twitch, or butterflies and as the baby grows, there's no describing it other than to say that it feels like there's a baby flipping around and kicking you from the inside. Though it sounds painful, I never thought of it this way. It feels weird but you don't want it to stop. Yes, pregnancy can be trying. It can be tiring. It can be difficult. It is emotional, it is hard work, and it is unlike anything else you will ever do in your life. It is rewarding. Seeing and feeling the movement of your baby is something you could never forget.
2. I didn't know the emotion I would feel when I first heard my baby cry. I'll always remember the moment that I heard Kade's cry for the very first time. I looked over at Kyle and immediately our eyes welled up with tears. It's the moment you lie in bed every single night thinking about and TRYING to imagine for 9 whole months. To carry a life inside you for all that time really is something special, but hearing that first cry reminds you that you are FINALLY about to meet that little person face to face.
3. Speaking of crying, I didn't know about the sense of urgency I would feel each time I heard my own baby cry. I remember telling people that I didn't realize I would feel so differently about a crying baby once it was my own. We've all heard a crying baby. Usually it's loud, and sometimes it can feel bothersome, depending on where you are, or what you're doing. We usually have thoughts like "awe, poor baby..." or "oh man, someone's not a happy camper!" But you guys... when it's your own baby... it's so much more than that. You are suddenly on a serious mission to determine WHY the baby is crying and how on earth you can fix it as fast as possible. And when nothing that you're trying is working, the panic sets in. The first few nights of being home from the hospital, if Kade was crying inconsolably, this meant I was crying too. I'm sure hormones played a small part in this ;) but my poor husband was trying to console two babies that first week at home. All you want for your baby, from day one, is for them to be happy.
4. I didn't know that I could find so much enjoyment in just sitting and watching my baby play. For hours. Every little thing your child does whether it's for the first time or for the millionth time is the greatest thing they've ever done. There is nothing like watching a little person that you created learn new things and develop a personality. I also didn't know how early on I would start to see that personality coming out.
5. I didn't know how quickly and how often they would change. So many times I thought I'd finally had the kid figured out... whether it was with breastfeeding, napping, sleeping, wake times, fussiness, riding in the car, toys he likes, things that make him smile or laugh, how to get him to stop crying, etc. As soon as I thought I'd figured it out, it was maybe a day or two of feeling like I knew what I was doing and then he would throw me for another loop. Babies really know how to keep you on your toes and you can never mind all of the advice/tips/tricks from other moms you received because your baby is not their baby. Now I know what they mean when they say "every baby is different." Different, yes, and constantly changing. There is soooo much "going with the flow" happening as a momma.
This one is several combined. Make sure you read it to the end... don't get discouraged.
6. I didn't know how hard it would be. I didn't know how little time I would truly have to myself. I didn't know how much hair I'd lose after my baby was born. I didn't know how much longer it would take to run a quick errand. I didn't know that I could work up a sweat trying to get a baby to sleep and how hard they could fight it. I didn't know how hard it could be to change a poopy diaper on a newly mobile baby. I didn't know how many cold meals I'd be eating in order to take care of my baby first. I didn't know how many times I'd have to set aside something that I wanted to do because my baby needed me.
I didn't know how much I wouldn't care about ANY of these things.
I didn't know how EASY it would be to give up on having thick, voluminous hair. I didn't know how every extra, added minute onto the errands I have to run would be worth it to have my sidekick along with me. I didn't know how easy it would be to sweat my brains out trying to get my kid to sleep because I wanted it for him that badly. I didn't know how much I would appreciate the challenge of changing a mobile, poopy diaper. I didn't know how easy it would be to give up a warm meal and how suddenly I couldn't care less about the laundry list of things I needed to do if my baby needed me. I didn't know how incredibly easy it would be to put my baby first. When you become a mom, nothing else matters as much as your child. The love that you feel and the JOY that is brought to your life by one teeny, tiny stranger far outweighs any other emotion, hardship, challenge, or sacrifice.
One final thought...
I grew up hearing the song "You Are My Sunshine," because my mom used to sing it to me when I was little. I know it well, I've heard it a million times, and never once has it made me cry. I didn't know that when I became a mom myself, I would, more than once, get choked up singing this song to my baby because of the one line that holds so. much. truth.
"You'll NEVER know, dear, how MUCH I love you."
I never knew the truth behind those words until I met my baby boy.