As a first-time mom I did a LOT of research before giving birth. I wanted to be prepared for any and everything that I could. (Hello enneagram type threes!) Unfortunately, there’s no way you can prepare for everything. There’s also a lot of things that nobody talks about that make it difficult to prepare for.
When I started this blog several years ago, I started it in the spirit of being honest with what I was going through – both the good and the bad. So in that same spirit, as I journey through motherhood, I want to share some of the things that I’ve had to learn in these first few months that I wasn’t entirely prepared for. So here’s some things that they don’t always tell you about motherhood:
You might not get to hold your child for the first hour of his/her life.
I knew I was going to have a c-section so I read a lot of articles on what to expect before going in. From several of the pictures I had seen of other c-section moms, they were happily holding their little ones just behind the curtain as they were being sewn up. Unfortunately, this was not my experience. My arms were laid out and secured by my sides where I couldn’t move. After the baby was taken out of me, he was cleaned up, swaddled, handed to dad, and they left the room together. The first hour of my son’s life he spent in his dad’s arms in the recovery room while I laid on an operating table chatting with the anesthesiologist about college football.
You swell, a LOT.
After three bags of saline and two bags of antibiotics, I was a human balloon. You know the violet girl from Willy Wonka? Yeah, that was me. I packed a handful of comfy clothes to wear in and home from the hospital and ZERO of them fit. Like, to the point they wouldn’t go past my knees. I had to ask my mother to go to Target to get me clothes that would fit so I didn’t leave the hospital naked. It was concerning to say the least. I wore a lot of nightgowns and robes – anything pantless – for a solid three weeks. And forget shoes! I’m two months out and some of my shoes still don’t fit.
As soon as you think you’ve got a hang of it, you don’t .
There are days when I can’t remember if I showered or brushed my teeth that morning. There are other days where we are up and dressed and out the door for a morning walk before 9am. I am learning that it’s all about balance and learning to be forgiving of yourself. Case in point: last week I was up, showered, hair washed, dressed, had done some decorating for Christmas and gotten the baby down for a nap. I had been do productive that morning – all before 10 am! I finally sat down to eat some breakfast and then got a wet lucky charm marshmallow stuck in my hair. Like, 100% stuck. It was worse than gum. I cried and called my mom for help. So much for having it all together…
There are a LOT of smells.
Babies are very small creatures but the smells they bring with them are very mighty. I did not know it was possible for something so small to stink so much. And the smells linger. Even after you’ve showered or washed your hands or changed your clothes, you get a whiff of it somewhere. And honestly I have no idea how long that lasts. Maybe forever???
You find out who your friends are.
This truth hurts more than I care to admit. I’ve heard this cliche thrown around before but never thought it would apply to me. I’m almost 30 years old, I thought for sure the friends that I had were the ones who would be with me for life. And then I had a baby and some of my closest friends vanished. Straight ghosted. On the plus side – and the side I’m choosing to focus on – some of my other friends came through for me in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined. They showed up for me in ways that I didn’t even know that I needed at the time. They sent care packages, sat in the lobby at the hospital for three hours waiting for my kid to be born, brought me food just so I wouldn’t have to worry about what’s for dinner, came to hold my crying baby to give me a break, sat with me on my couch to just talk about what life is like in the outside world, etc. It’s so incredibly important to find your tribe when you become a mom.
You don’t have to get your pre-baby body back.
My postpartum timeline was supposed to go like this: deliver a baby in September, lounge around eating Halloween candy all October, waltz into family gatherings by Thanksgiving in my pre-pregnancy clothes and have family members comment at how great I look “so soon” after having a baby. I somehow got it in my head that my body would just magically shrink back to what it was, despite the fact that I grew another human inside of me and drank three or more glasses of chocolate milk every day for nine months. I cried in a dressing room at Target when I couldn’t fit into a pair of pants that was two sizes bigger than what I was pre-pregnancy only a month after giving birth. I had to cut myself some slack. It had only been 30 days since I underwent a major surgery and had a human child removed from my insides. Plus, even if I never fit back into the pants I was wearing before I had a baby – who cares? Literally no one but me. I was the only one putting pressure on me.
You will fall in love with your husband all over again.
I had the biggest crush on Johnathan in middle school. He was WAY more popular than me, though. When we reconnected in college and he asked me out, I thought I was being punked. I vividly remember staring at him through the peephole when he came to pick me up for our first date. I had to count to three and take a deep breath before I opened the door. I just couldn’t believe he was there, taking me on a date.
One night when we were still in the hospital, I looked over at Johnathan sleepily feeding the baby. My heart skipped a beat and I had the same feeling I had on that first date – I couldn’t believe he was the father of my baby. A couple nights ago we were sitting as a family watching football. There was a fire going in the fireplace, the Christmas tree was already up (don’t judge me!), the puppy was snuggled up in my lap and the baby was snuggled up in Johnathan’s arms. My eyes filled with tears and I had that feeling again. I couldn’t believe this was my family. No one really prepares you for that feeling. Then again, I don’t think anyone ever could.
There’s a lot about motherhood that I’m still learning; a lot that I love and a lot that I don’t. There’s no way I will ever have it all figured out. There’s a lot that I’m scared of: the first time he gets sick, the first time he gets his heart broken, the first time he learns to drive. But there’s a lot that I’m looking forward to as well: his first Christmas, his first day of school, our mother-son dance at his wedding. I’m just trying to take each day with grace and humility. And a lot of hand sanitizer.