When it came to becoming a Mother, there were a slew of things I expected. You know, the things portrayed in movies. The sleepless nights, the lack of showers, spit up, poop, etc… What caught me off guard was all the things that were completely opposite of what I read and heard about, or that I never heard about at all – which says something because I am a major researcher. So here is my list of things that I didn’t expect from Motherhood.
1. Feeling like I was hit by a fleet of buses.
Yup. This should have been obvious, but I’m holding onto the fact that Women’s brains shrink during pregnancy as my excuse for not thinking about this. Seriously though, moving my legs at all felt like torture for weeks after giving birth. When I was released from the hospital, I instantly regretted having a compact SUV that I had to climb into, and that my husband and I decided a third floor apartment without an elevator was ideal for us. Getting out of bed was a nightmare, even with a tempurpedic. TOTAL FIRST WORLD PROBLEM, I know. Memory foam sucks during that time, because you’re fighting against your own body shaped bed crater to get out of bed. It was a crisis.
2. Morbid thoughts
This still gets to me. When you love someone so much, and you’re responsible for their entire wellbeing, you won’t just be more thoughtful about taking precautions, you will practically imagine the horrible things that will happen if you aren’t especially careful. For instance, I mentioned that I live in a third floor apartment, but I didn’t mention how clumsy I am. Danny and I have a convertible carseat that stays in the car, and we babywear in public, instead of carrying around an infant seat. That means, we carry our baby in our arms down three flights of stairs to get to the car. The first few times, I would carry her down, and it gave me such horrible anxiety. As I would start walking down each step, I would be thinking about how careful I needed to be, and then the images would play in my head of what would happen if I wasn’t careful enough. I trip, and lose grip of my baby girl, and she’s horribly injured or even dead from being dropped down the stairs.
Danny carries her down the stairs now, because it’s just too much for me.
3. Time being TOTALLY consumed during the newborn phase.
Again, I should have known this one, but those early days dealing with a newborn who had latch problems and a lip tie. Oy. We breastfed ALL. THE. TIME. If I was lucky, I got an hour between (painful) feedings. This lasted until she turned 3 months old. The first month was the absolute worse though. We had her lip tie dealt with, and we had to do a lip massage every two hours around the clock. I remember when she was two weeks old thinking to myself “How will I ever be able to do anything else? How will I be able to take care of her, and clean, cook, grocery shop, exercise, or shower? HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?”
Sadly, and thankfully, nothing is permanent with parenting, and now, 4 months later, I can do all of those things, and even find time to either blog, paint, write, or play guitar. I kinda miss those all day cuddles with that tiny girl.
4. Feeling like I was in a constant adrenaline rush due to fluctuating hormones.
Holy hormones. I’m sure the whites of my eyes were visible around my entire iris. My pupils were probably constantly dilated as well. I felt a lot of energy, but definitely too much. I felt a little crazy. Whew. My sweet husband had such grace with me. I remember any whimper our girl made was an emergency to me. She started fussing one night, and he went to grab something from the kitchen, and you would have thought he threw a baby bunny off the balcony. I think I said something along the lines of “UM, GIVE ME MY BABY – SHE IS CRYING, YOU MONSTER!” Okay, I didn’t say “you monster” but it was definitely implied. I felt like if our girl was away from me at all that she was going to die. So she spent 24/7 on me, and a handful of time with Danny the first couple of weeks.
Things have calmed down a bit sense then. Danny is thankful – haha!
5. Fear about the change in family dynamics
This kind of ties in with the hormones. When Danny finally had to go back to work after a week of being off, I had a meltdown the three days prior to him going. There was such a pit in my stomach about being with our girl alone. I didn’t fear that I was going to hurt her, I just feared the change. Until that point, our family routine had been established with us all together. I hated that our normal would have to change so soon into being a family of three. I loved that Danny and I were in sync most of the time, and that he bonded well with our girl. I just wanted him there with us all of the time. Luckily, I only cried the first and second day of him being back at work. We survived, and our new new norm is working well.
6. Being a critical wife
I hate hate HATE this one. I struggle with it so bad. Before she was born, I promised myself that I wouldn’t get into the mindset of “I know my child better, and my way is the only right way, and I totally do more around here than you.” But, I broke and continue to break that promise. First it was how differently we put diapers on our baby, then it was how differently we hold her, engage with her, and parent her. This has been the big test in our marriage, and sadly, I’m the one who is failing here. Why did it bother me that he put a diaper on differently than I did? The result was the same – it successfully held pee and poop until discarded. But it bothered me, and I nagged about it. From there it escalated to royal irritation if he came home and did anything that didn’t involve taking the baby from my arms so that I could go shower. In my mind there is a constant tab open that is keeping track of what I’ve done VS. What he’s done. This is no way to live. It does not bring joy, and biblically, it’s the exact opposite of what I am called to do and think as a wife.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NET 4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
It doesn’t matter if I’ve had a fussy baby all day. I need to remember that when my husband gets home from work, he’s already been awake for over 12 hours. Of course he is tired, and going to doze off on the couch, instead of being thrilled about taking over watching the baby right away. It doesn’t matter that I imagined things would pan out differently. Different doesn’t mean wrong, and I have a hard time with seeing that as truth. The Lord has fervently convicted me about this, so I am working on it, and I think I’ve improved so much. Danny has never said a word to me about this, because he is just an amazingly gracious husband to me. So yeah, this one sucks, and if you could pray for me in this area, I would so appreciate it!
7. A baby that slept through the night early on
I was a needy baby, and Danny basically didn’t sleep for more than a couple hours until he was 18 months old. I really thought we would be doomed to suffer the sleepless nights that we gave our parents. I don’t know why or how, but at 6 weeks old, our girl slept 6 hours straight, woke up to eat, and slept for another 3 hours. This has been her normal ever since. It’s nothing we’ve done, we’re lucky that she takes well to being swaddled, and that white noise continues to lull her.
8. A baby that hardly cries
Again, Danny and I were not great babies to our parents. I don’t know how we got our sweet angel baby that really doesn’t cry. She’s so happy. When she is upset, she more talks about it with whines or grunts. I can count on one hand the number of times she has actually cried tears. My best guess is that breastfeeding on demand has helped with this. I could be totally wrong though. I haven’t ever let her fuss long enough to cry before letting her nurse. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it isn’t. Who knows.
9. Anger with people and their unsolicited advice or opinions
YUP. Nothing says “You’re doing a great job” or “You’re such a good Mom (or Dad)” like giving advice against what the parent is doing, or offering an opinion that wasn’t asked for. I will never understand the mindset of people who do this. To me, it’s just rude, even if it isn’t intended to be. Give your advice or opinions when you’re asked for it, not as a response to someone explaining what they do as a parent – usually because you asked them to tell you. I used to get so mad at strangers, friends, and family who did this. What it tells me is that you think I don’t know what I’m doing, you’re assuming I’m not intelligent enough to solve my own problems, and you think you are the perfect parent for my child in that instance. Call me a drama queen, but that’s how I take it. Now if I ask for input, that is a different story. Hit me with all of your advice and opinions. Nowadays I don’t get angry anymore, just more annoyed than anything. The next item on the list is why.
Now, I’m not talking about the first couple months here. I was terribly unconfident those months. I thought I wasn’t feeding my baby enough. I tried to increase my supply, and did so – straight into oversupply. Then I had to cut my supply. What triggered being unconfident was the internet. Lord, the internet is a terrible wonderful place. After struggling and destroying my supply both ways, I gave up on finding my answers online, and decided to just watch my baby, her wet and dirty diaper outputs, and if those were normal, I would not worry about supply. Voila – supply issues fixed.
That simple mindset change has carried over into other issues now. I know with 100% certainty that Danny and I know what is best for our sweet girl, better than anyone else. Parental intuition is amazing. So I don’t worry about stuff anymore. I can tell when something is off with her, and I usually know how to fix it.
Another lie the internet told me is that I would constantly worry about if I was doing the right thing for my girl, which is why the confidence in mothering has taken me for surprise.
Mothering is my calling in life. I’m not a perfect Mom, but I am the perfect Mom for my daughter.
11. Not wanting to leave my daughter with anyone else.
My daughter is 4 months old and Danny and I still haven’t had a date night. This shocks me. I really thought that by six weeks, I would want to go out with just my husband. I’ll admit, the itch has started to creep up the last couple of weeks, so I’m sure it will happen soon. Up until now, I didn’t want to leave her. Not even with Danny. Not because I don’t trust him or our family, I just feel sad thinking about not being able to pick up and hug my baby whenever I want.
12. Such happiness
I seriously happy cry around 4 times a day. I will look at my sweet baby playing with her toys, sleeping, nursing, or in her daddy’s arms and feel the warmth of intense, powerful love burning in my chest, and then the tears fall. How did I get so blessed with this? I spent 8 years wanting this more than anything, and now I have it – finally. I think God wanted me to wait so long so that I could absolutely cherish each moment of this stage in my life. The joy I have in mothering and being a wife is astounding.
13. Sleeping won’t revert back to being painless like it was before you were pregnant.
So, one of the major things I was looking forward to after giving birth was sleep. Anyone who has been pregnant can attest to how uncomfortable you are 24/7, and when you finally get as comfortable as possible, you have to pee. The cycle repeats. Well, four months of not being pregnant, and so far, sleep is still not comfortable. I toss and turn in my sleep, and always have, but now, trying to roll in bed makes my back and hips feel sore and crunchy. Yes, you read that right. They feel crunchy, as horrible and gagtastic as that sounds. Someone please tell me this goes away eventually?
14. Marriage and the birds and the bees is better than it seems.
I almost didn’t include this one, because I’m really modest about this subject – I get embarrassed kissing my husband in front of family. But, it’s the most unexpected one for me, so I’ll be as gracefully vague as I can be. I think it’s because, overall, Danny and I have been more intimate throughout the day compared to pre baby us. Aside from #6 on this list. I’m not saying that babies bring people closer every time, because they don’t. But for us, we have been closer. He loves watching me Mother our daughter, and I love seeing him be an attentive Daddy. We have much more admiration for each other. We see this beautiful girl that is part of each of us, and we just can’t help but hug and kiss more often and cuddle at the end of the day. I think that naturally leads to better intimacy.
There you have it, if you want to share your personal unexpected things about motherhood, I would love to read about them!