I had kids much earlier than a lot of my high school and university friends. This year we are all turning 30, and people are starting to have babies! It has made me think back to when I had my first little baby in my arms, absolutely terrified about what to do and how to keep this thing alive and happy. There are SO many books and blogs about what to expect, but they miss some key points; the ones no one likes to talk about. The ones that are hard to say and even harder to go through. So today thats what I want to look at: The things people don’t want to tell you.
The first 2 weeks-3 months are pure survival.
Put all the rules, expectations, and schedules away. This is survival of the fittest and you need to have your only goal of keeping you all alive. Schedules, sleep routines, when to eat etc will all come, but this is the adjustment period for all of you. The baby is new to this world and it takes TIME to adjust to that. You are now a family of 3 (or more) and that can be a really hard adjustment! All of a sudden you can’t do all the luxurious things you wanted on a whim anymore. Allow all of you, especially yourself to adjust to this. It can be hard on both moms and dads, especially because the dad cannot give the baby the same things mom can. We feed them, comfort them, get to know them on such a deeper level that the dad often feels a little lost these first few months until he finds his place. The first few weeks are an adrenaline based emotional roller coaster with hormones acting crazy-please hear me when I say: this will end. You will find your groove and things start to become manageable, so don’t freak out if the first weeks get a little crazy!
Prepare for moments you don’t know what to do
There will be moments, where you have fed them, changed them, bounced them, rocked them and they are STILL uncontrollably crying (chances are its also 3a.m.) Sometimes you won’t find the real reason, sometimes you will. These moments bring a feeling of not knowing what to do and its not the best feeling in the world. We all have these moments, and then they pass and it is all okay. You are allowed to cry with them if need be. Even more frustrating sometimes you’ll find somewhat that works, and then the next time it doesn’t work!
Practice your Smile and Nod
For some reason, everyone will feel the need to share their opinion with you about what is wrong with the baby when they cry, or tell you how they are feeling (because apparently they speak baby and you don’t) I so clearly remember my grandmother telling me ‘Madison is cold’ over SKYPE when she was like a week old. (love you grandma) I have tried to avoid getting these comments, but I have found a better course of action is just to smile, nod and decide if I will take their advice on my own. You are the parent, and you get to decide what to do!
Comparing to other moms or comparing the babes
This is so hard. Comparing to other moms bodies after you had babies, how they play more with their kids than you, how they are more patient etc etc the list could go on and on. Then its easy to get caught up in comparing the development of your baby compared to others. I remember being stressed because my friends child could sit in a bumbo and mine couldn’t. (yes really) Its easy, especially in the developmental area, to compare the kids. This thinking can really take a tole on you.
Just say goodbye to it. Just kidding-sort of. The first few weeks and even months newborns sleep a LOT. You actually feel like ‘what is everyone complaining about?’ then they hit a new milestone, especially around 4 months, they all of a sudden change their sleeping habits and sometimes for the worst. Just be prepared that if your baby DOES sleep well, that it could change (it might not though!) New milestones like sitting up, eating solids, crawling and walking etc all can mess up their sleep schedule so just be prepared that once you feel like you have got it nailed down- it could change. We did a sleep training program with our kids, which was probably the best thing we have ever done in our parenting and saved many lives.
If this is your first baby, and your other friends don’t have babies yet, it can feel a little different all of a sudden. You are in this crazy new chapter of your life and people don’t want to talk about that all the time when they aren’t there. Find your own mom tribe. Most towns have great places that have big playrooms for the kids, and coffee for the moms (in ontario its called early years, alberta its parent link but each province/state has their own) They are ways to connect with other moms in the same boat as you. You can complain to each other about how little sleep your getting, or when your baby is doing something you can’t figure out. It also turns into playdates as your kids get older. Mom friends are something really special, don’t miss out on this!
Don’t Forget your Spouse
This is so important. I remember my mom telling me the day I got home with our first baby. You will spend your entire day cuddling, feeding, holding this tiny baby. By the time your hubby gets home from work, you are EXHAUSTED and seriously don’t even want to be touched, your tank for touch and love is full-but his isn’t! Your husband has been working all day, and hasn’t gotten that time and closeness with you. It is SO easy to forget them, because they can take care of themselves and you have this little tiny baby who needs you for everything but this is the biggest way to affect your marriage with a new baby being added to the picture. Also be prepared to think very bad thoughts when its 2 a.m. and you’ve been up with a screaming baby for an hour and your husband has slept SOUNDLY the entire time.
You won’t enjoy every season
There is this expectation that you will love every moment of raising a child. I am going to tell you the truth, its a lie. You will not enjoy every moment, there will even be SEASONS you don’t like—AND THATS OKAY. Our culture and society make this hard to talk about but after being a parent for almost 5 years now, I know this is true with many many mothers. When my kids were 1 and 3, I will admit there were many many seasons that were so tough I was really struggling. My kids are 2 and 4 now and I still have many moments that just plain suck! Temper tantrums and battling of wills and constant crying and fighting about simple things takes a toll on you. With babies, some are colicky (mine were and man oh man that can break you down FAST) If you have moments, or seasons where you are like ‘k I’m not enjoying this’ please please remember you are normal. This has NOTHING to do with how much you love your child. This has to do with the exhaustion and struggle you are going through trying to raise another human being!!!
Prepare for Intense Emotions
You will love hard, cry harder, be hopelessly frustration and more angry than you knew you could get. Kids push our buttons in ways we didn’t know possible, they love so strong they will melt your heart. You will go through so many roller coasters of emotions in one day but also in the big picture of their life. Some days you will be so amazed you created this perfect little creation, other days you will wonder if they are even your child at all.
Bringing a new little life into this world is magical, its unexplainable, its simply the most beautiful thing possible. It also stretches you to places you didn’t know exist, it brings out characteristic and emotions you seriously didn’t know you had. You gain such an appreciation for your own parents (I think Ive called my parents and apologized for my younger years about 800 times since my first kid) Most books and resources get you ready for how many diapers to buy and what to put in the nursery but they don’t prepare you for the emotional side of things, and the less fun things about parenting. I hope this blog can be helpful for anyone embarking on this new adventure of parenting!