This time last year I was realllllly pregnant.
I was also realllllly nervous.
Nothing changes a life quicker than adding a new one to it.
I gave birth to our first baby in March of 2011. I can’t believe in less than two months he’ll be turning one. It has me reflecting on the entire ‘becoming a mother’ event. When he hits that 12 month mark, I’ll no longer be “a new mom”…I’ll have joined the ranks of moms that have experience.
Before he arrived, I had about a gazillion and one questions. I couldn’t soak up enough info from other women who had done it all before. I had to know what to expect, the changes I should be prepared for, what not to do, etc. I have a hard time with ‘change’ and figured the more I could be prepared for what was about to happen the better I’d handle it.
I don’t consider myself an expert by any means, but I know what it was like for me. Here is what I’ve learned in my short time being “Ma Ma Ma Ma”…. (Oh, and feel free to pass this on to your expecting friends…they’ll appreciate it)
Pregnancy and Preparation
- Your hormones are about to control the next 10 months (yep, 40 weeks) of your life. You will cry, laugh, freak out, and hate your husband all for no reason and at more-than-likely really inappropriate times.
- People will rub your belly absent-mindedly thinking they are somehow ‘touching’ the baby. I tried to be patient during this because I myself have almost gone straight for a preggy belly of a friend (and ‘Note to Self’ – NEVER do that again).
- Talk to other expecting mommies…whether it’s on the phone or in a chat room online. It makes a world of difference talking to someone else going through the same thing as you. I can’t tell you how helpful and therapeutic it was to go through pregnancy with a close friend of mine (also a first time mom).
- You will be TIRED…so take it easy on yourself. There is a little break during the 2nd trimester that allows you to get some baby preparation done. But get in as much rest as possible, your body is working overtime.
- You will be uncomfortable the entire pregnancy. Be prepared to do a lot of peeing (we went through 12,000 rolls of tp while I was pregnant), eating, resting/sleeping, dealing with heartburn, and re-situating yourself because the belly area is achy. Oh, and feel free to groan every time you do any of these so others no the uncomfortability (new word) you are in…I did.
- This is such a neat time for you and your husband. As corny as it sounds, your love for each other has multiplied. There’s just you two right now, soak up the special-ness.
- Don’t waste your time or money on a lot of the ‘extras’ that you will barely, if ever, use. For us it was a wipe warmer, car bottle warmer (they don’t work), and unfortunately a beautiful changing table his aunt/uncle gave us as a gift. Those things will still be there in the store if you decide you gotta have ’em after the baby arrives. And buy as much big ticket items USED as you can – most baby items rarely show much use and you can save a ton of $.
- Learn now to roll with the punches. Don’t get too attached to certain ideas of how everything is going to go, it’s not always up to you. But it won’t be the end of the world. For example, I had a c-section and couldn’t breastfeed – both things I didn’t even want to think about beforehand. I took the ‘unable to breastfeed’ thing a little harder than I should have making it even worse to work through. Hormones didn’t help. So, just be careful what you have your heart set on. Every experience is unique.
- Now, the question all new moms have to ask…how bad does giving birth hurt? Every mother has a different birth story and just about all of them want to share it with you. Now it may seem like every one you hear is a total horror story, but it’s not always like that. Yes, it hurts to have a baby…but you will survive it. I went through it (and I’m the biggest cry baby on the planet!) and we will probably have another one some day… so, there you go.
- I’m just going to say it…MATERNITY CLOTHES SUCK. They are way overpriced and incredibly uncomfortable. The only clothes that made me happy were lounge pants and a big tshirt (I know my husband appreciated that).
- Things are going to go a little smoother if you get used to the idea now that you WILL have pee, spit up, vomit (there’s a difference in the last two), snot, or poop on you at some point – and it could all be at the exact same time. And you will probably be in a public place when you realize one (or all) of those things are on the back of your shirt. True story, allow me to set the scene – Eddie’s first Father’s Day, KB is less than 3 months old, we are all actually looking pretty decent and ready for church on time. So proud of this little accomplishment I mentally boast to myself all through the service “Look at us…alright, alright, alright (McConaughay style)…we are all three looking good. KB even had a nap beforehand so he is extra smiley. We are one of those, dare I say it, perfect families?” It wasn’t until I got home I realized the entire day I had been carrying around a baby blanket on my arm that had a massive amount of dried yellow diarrhea covering the back side of it. What the?! So, word to the wise mommy…there’s no such thing as perfect.
- It doesn’t matter how sweet and helpful your husband tries to be…you are still MOM. The brunt of it will fall on your shoulders. You will have to know what to do, when to do it, and where it is. You pretty much have to just dole out the orders…just try to do it nicely and with patience. I wasn’t so kind and will always regret it terribly.
- You will care more about how your new child looks (have they had a bath, what are they wearing, are their four hairs combed,etc) than how you do.
- You had a baby. Your body will not be back to (somewhat) normal in at least 6 months, depending. But even in that time frame, be aware, all things will not go back to the exact place they once were…some of it will be more (clearing throat) south…sorry. Oh, and that brown belly line goes away but man it take its sweet time. The stretch marks are pretty much here to stay ~ once again, sorry.
- Your schedule now totally revolves around the baby. It is useless to fight it. Start letting go of all that old selfishness now. I couldn’t for the life of me grasp that tidbit and it was h-a-r-d.
- You are now going to feel guilty for the rest of your life. It doesn’t even have to be about anything in particular. From here on out you will be plagued with ‘mom guilt’. Ask any other Mom about it. And, congratulations, along with that guilt comes a side-order of worry! You will worry if there’s too much poop/too little poop, too much eating/too little eating, on and on and on and on.
- A protective instinct like you have never known will show up soon after delivery. You would kick a rabbied grizzly in the teeth and not bat an eyelash if it came near your new child. Powerful stuff right there…I wouldn’t suggest anyone mess with that.
- In the beginning expect nothing in return from your new bundle of joy. It will lay there like a cat – expressionless. Its big eyes will look at you in a seemingly ‘this is it?’ manner. There will be no gratefulness for all that you are doing and sacrificing. Being a mom is a thankless job…but very rewarding in other ways. Simply seeing your baby grow and thrive feels like a hearty pat on the back.
- There will be times YOU cry…maybe right along with the baby. Just because you do does NOT automatically mean you have Postpartum Depression. But everyone that sees your tears will be quick to diagnose you. There are lots of changes and lots of hormones coming at you. Go easy on yourself. (Note: Do keep watch over yourself for the signs of PPD, it is more common than you think and totally treatable – talk to your Dr if you’re concerned about it.)
- For at least the first 3-4 months you and your husband will be VERY tired. There are lots of changes and you’re learning new roles. Try to take it easy on each other.
- Accept all the help you can get. I know it feels awkward…but you just had a baby…suck up the pride and gratefully take the assistance – the offers go away quickly!
- You will want to trade sleep for your ‘not yet conceived’ second child…
- Have a notebook or calendar handy to quickly jot down your baby’s day – do it at night after washing bottles or throwing onesies in the washer. You might not have time to write oodles of journal entries, but you’ll have all the little important events down! I’m so thankful I did this.
- There will come a time when you question whether you were meant to have a child…there’s a 99% chance that thought will come to you during a middle of the night feeding or crying session.
- Especially the first year, you will cry recalling the memory of the day your little one was born.
- I’m pretty sure SATAN invented the pajamas with 889 snaps up the leg and all the way to the chin. A diaper change at 3 a.m. calls for a two-piece set of pjs…buy lots of those.
- Babies cry. Get used to the sound. It will not kill them to cry for one minute and 27 seconds while you pee. Also, it’s okay to always blame the crying on ‘teething pain’ – we did from the beginning and my son didn’t have teeth until he was 9 months old.
- Have lots of bibs, some kind of really comfortable rocker or recliner, a diaper genie-thingy, pacifiers, butt paste and gas drops, pack n play/playpen, and a baby swing…oh the baby swing…Thank you Jesus!
- You’re the Mom. You may be new at it but you have more instincts than you realize. Trust them. This one is so important I’m going to say it again – Trust your mommy instincts!
- Just know now, your kid will fall off a bed, couch, something before they’re a year old. Like a nurse once told me, there’s a reason they are soft and pliable. Chances are you have done NO PERMANENT DAMAGE…you’ll just feel like crap every time you think of it for the rest of your life…
- You DO NOT have to tote a big, full diaper bag around everywhere you go. Leave it in the car. Put the essentials in your purse (diaper, travel wipe pack, paci, small toy, tissues, even a thin blanket). Save your back…I mean, jeepers you’re already packing around a baby in an awkward car seat/carrier thingy!
- Because they can’t communicate yet, it’s easy to forget how important you are to your little one. At one point I thought a well-trained monkey could do the things my baby needed done. But remember, you are that little one’s WHOLE WORLD.
- Do yourself a favor and stick a spare set of clothes for YOU in the diaper bag. You’ll thank me when it’s 98 degrees outside and a baby vomits milk down the front of your shirt and pants (true story).
- In the beginning, you and little one are just getting to know each other. Don’t worry about ‘if you love your child enough’. It took me awhile to figure this out. Love is not the butterflies in the stomach feeling movies teach us…love is a verb. You are doing everything possible for this little person which translates into love. And trust me that love quickly grows and grows and grows.
- No matter what you’re going through, hang in there. Remember…this too shall pass. Women have been doing the hard work of raising a youngin’ since Adam and Eve…we are made for this!
- Talk to your baby…I promise they are listening. And isn’t it amazing that just the sound of your voice can calm them.
- You will have a new appreciation for God sending his only son to die on a cross for our sins. I do. And your faith will increase…you will pray like you’ve never prayed before for the Lord to watch over your precious baby.
- You will care more about the state of the world after he/she is born…because they will still have to live here long after you are gone.
- If you are going to be a stay-at-home mom, the days will feel incredibly REPETITIVE. Different day, same routine.
- Like I’ve always said…Parenthood is like boot camp. It breaks you all the way down just so it can build you all the way back up into a better person for the job.
- Don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy your kid. Get to know each other over time. I can’t imagine leaving this life having never experienced parenthood. All the old cliches are true – time does fly by and you will miss this. So hang on tight and enjoy the ride!
Godspeed new Momma!