I am a new mom. A rookie in every way imaginable when it comes to this thing called ‘parenthood.’ My whole life I was waiting for the moment when I would hold my child in my arms for the first time. I could imagine the hush in the room, the overwhelming love, the exhaustion… Or at least, I thought I could imagine it. Turns out, I had NO idea. Here are ten things that no one told me about becoming a mama.
1. It may not happen like you imagine
When my husband and I decided we were ready to be parents, we threw out the birth control and started planning the nursery totally expecting our (ahem) efforts to pay off right away and that in less than a year we’d be holding our bundle of joy!
Well, it did not happen quite like that. We waited to see that positive test for three long years and it took the help of a wonderful team of doctors and nurses to make it happen due to infertility. It wasn’t our plan, but it was our journey.
2. You may not feel like the moms in the movies
Going into pregnancy, I fully expected to be crazy emotional and hormonal. I waited for the odd pregnancy cravings of pickles and ice cream. But none of that ever came. As a matter of fact, except for my weight, I was pretty level the whole nine months. So steady, in fact, that I wondered if my baby was okay. You know what, mama? He was just fine, and so was I. So you may be a bat case, or you may not, or you may be somewhere in between. Relax, it’s all normal.
3. It will take your breath away
No, really. You won’t be able to breathe those last weeks. I remember being in the middle of a conversation with a colleague and having to ask for a break so I could catch my breath. Talk about embarrassing. Just expect it and remember to take the stairs slowly. Actually, avoid them at all costs, if possible.
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4. You will be a showstopper
People will stare, they will smile, they will gawk, they will (eek!) touch your belly without permission. It is truly bizarre the way complete strangers react to a pregnant woman. My advice, though? Enjoy it. Let them open your door and give up their seats because in a few months it is all about that baby and you fall way down the totem pole!
5. Delivery is not like the movies, either
You know those scenes where a woman’s water breaks and floods the room and moments later she’s being rushed in a wheelchair to a stark white room where she pushes out a screaming baby? Yeah. Not always the case. Your water will not come gushing out, so don’t wait for that before you admit you are in labor. For most people, it is a very slow trickle that you may not even notice.
Once you get into Labor and Delivery, it is a much more peaceful and slow process than what we see on TV. Now yes, those last moments are intense, but that’s a very small portion of your labor so don’t sweat it. Your body was literally designed for this. Breathe and push.
6. Your beautiful baby may not be so beautiful at first
Look, that baby has been smooshed up in a ball for nine months then squeezed out a tiny canal. It is going to be covered in all kinds of mess and swollen from trauma, so don’t expect a bright pink wide-eyed doll face. Trust me, you will be disappointed if you do.
Don’t worry, though, they start to look much cuter just a few hours after they’re born. My son was absolutely gorgeous by the time my drugs wore off and I could get a better look at him. But ask my husband and he will tell you he looked like a wrinkled old man when they pulled him out.
7. You may not be able to express your emotions
When I held my baby for the first time after all the craziness was over, I just sat there and let the tears flow. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, terrified, thrilled and head-over-heels in love. But ask me then and I would not have been able to form a sentence, let alone describe what I was feeling. Some moms have said they’re still numb at that point, that’s totally normal, too. Just keep loving on your baby and give yourself time.
8. You will be horribly scared
When they let us take that tiny vulnerable baby out of the hospital, I was absolutely terrified. What if we got in a wreck? What if he started to cry and I didn’t know how to help him? What if he choked? What if I dropped him? What the heck have we gotten ourselves into? It was a whole new world and I had entirely too much responsibility. It is okay, you will learn. Babies are more resilient than they look. All they really need is shelter, food, and love. You can do that.
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9. You will not sleep for a long, long time
Sure, people told me this one. But you absolutely cannot fully understand this until you experience it. At almost a year into motherhood, I’m still not sleeping through the night. You wake at every little noise and movement, and not just by your baby. I hear the cat move and I worry that she may be jumping on the sleeping baby. I hear the baby sigh and I wonder if he’s too hot.
Or, I do not hear anything at all and I wonder if he stopped breathing. It’ll drive you crazy and keep you up in the middle of the night. But again, it’s okay. The morning will come and somehow you’ll find the energy to make it through another day. Just add some extra concealer and you’re good to go!
10. It is all worth it
The sleepless nights, the stretch marks, the fear, and doubting – all of it is worth it. You’re a mama now. You have a precious child that loves you more than anything else in the world. When those tiny fingers curl around your pinky and those big eyes focus in on you, you forget everything else that’s going on around you or that happened in the past. It’s all worth this moment.
Motherhood is a gift. Admittedly, there are times when it’s overwhelming and you wish you could take a break and you wonder what the heck you were thinking when you let that man do this to you. But just take a step back, breathe and put down the frying pan because you’re going to want that man’s help in the middle of the night when your precious baby is singing the midnight song of his people.