These Are The Things Nobody Ever Warns You About Before You Become A Parent
I remember my third trimester of pregnancy very well. Between your bump turning from cute and manageable to an obstacle that prevents you from seeing your feet is when all of the good advice about parenthood comes in. People with kids are eager to share their parenting hacks.
While most were quite clever (and all were appreciated), you don’t really know what it’s like to raise a newborn until you actually bring them home. Here are just a few of the things I wasn’t prepped for before officially becoming a parent. This is just my experience — everyone’s might be totally different. Either way, I hope this offers some honest insight.
Yes, your relationship with your significant other will deteriorate (at first.)
My husband is my absolute best friend, and we went into this whole thing with most of the same views. But I realized that after about two days home from the hospital, we just…could not stand each other. Parenthood changes everything. People joke about how you “should get your sleep while you can!” prior to going into labor, but it wasn’t until my daughter was in my arms that I realized how important sleep is. Sleep makes you a functional human being. Sleep prevents you from turning into a monster. And based on the stress, new-parent fear, and roughly three or four hours of nightly sleep the two of us were getting, we were absolute monsters.
Here’s the good news — things got better pretty quickly. Right now, we’re literally the strongest we’ve ever been. Becoming a parent has a different affect on all kinds of couples, so this might not be the case for you and your partner. You might find that having a child together makes you closer than you’ve ever been! This was just my experience.
Nursing really is a lot harder than it looks.
You might have seen some awesome nursing pics on Instagram of proud moms, but trust me — it may have taken them awhile to get that expert latch. Every nursing situation is different. For some moms, it’s too painful. For others, they don’t produce enough milk. Some women produce a ton of milk, and choose to donate (which is amazing) but can’t leave the house without a very padded bra. That’s why it’s so tough when women judge other women for choosing to formula feed — there are women who always envisioned nursing, but realized later that they physical couldn’t. And trying to shame them for it just adds salt to the wound.
I did both. Nursing lasted for 11 months, but my daughter also got a lot of formula — especially during the transition. I miss breastfeeding, but I also don’t. Every trip included my pump in the passenger seat. I had to turn down much-needed hangouts with friends since I couldn’t fit in pumping. For example, one of my friends invited me to a ballgame, which would have been a blast — but in my head, it’s hard to even track down a hot dog, much less find a place for nursing moms, so I had to pass based on the anxiety it gave me.
Some friends might stop calling.
I promise, this list isn’t all grim — but this happened, too. I had such a good showing at my baby shower, and it was fun to see a ton of different friends there — guys and girls, since I think a new arrival should be celebrated by everyone. People I’ve known for years gave me encouraging words and cute stuffed elephants and giraffes that my daughter still plays with all the time. But right after she was born? A lot of these people dropped off the face of the planet. Some of the people at my shower still haven’t reached out at all to see the baby, and her first birthday passed two months ago.
I know kids aren’t for everyone. I was on the fence about parenthood myself. But, I always figured it was just the polite thing to have that initial visit.
Being a mom is an important job, but I’m so much more than that. It’s a part of my identity, but it’s not the whole thing. While my daughter will always come first, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to leave her with my husband one afternoon and chat with my friends about their lives over coffee. And I promise I won’t monopolize the conversation with baby talk.
You will form the most unbelievable bond, ever.
The second she was born, she was put on my chest and I instantly fell in love. It’s true! It was legitimately love at first sight. This bond might take some time for some parents, but it happens soon enough. I’m able to spend all day with my daughter, but I still miss her when she goes to bed for the night — even if she’s had a particularly cranky day.
You can blame the hormones, but the day after she was born, and I was still in the hospital trying to recover from the miracle of childbirth, I started crying to my husband because “I loved her too much.” That feeling has never gone away. And every day, she manages to impress me and make me laugh. Funny, since I wasn’t a kid person at all before she was born. She was the third baby I’ve ever held, and I’m in my thirties.
You’ll take better care of yourself.
Maybe not in the newborn stage, when you’re tired and have zero time. But when things level out again, you’ll realize that maybe it’s just the right thing to go to bed at 9:45 pm, even though that used to be when you left the house to hit up the club five years ago. Instead of a bag of chips, you’ll start snacking on bananas while on-the-go. Your water intake will improve since it’s dehydrating to look after a kid. And if you’re breastfeeding, water is simply vital.
Stress-eating junk food will happen during parenthood, but you’ll start thinking about how you need to start setting better examples. You’ll also start reflecting on your own childhood in a new way. What worked for you as a kid? What didn’t?
You will regret nothing. Probably.
The transition from zero kids to kids (even if it’s just one) is really tough — I’m not going to sugarcoat that. Some women will need help coping, and they 100% should get all of the follow-up care they need. They might just resist because the overall “stereotype” is that motherhood is a beautiful blessing. It’s so easy to feel like a bad mom if you feel any different. But pretty soon, when things mellow down, you’ll forget what life was like without your baby.
It’s almost like learning how to drive a car — it’s scary at first, and there’s a checklist of things to do before you even put the key into the ignition. But one day, you’ll just get in and realize you’re no longer so focused on every single turn. You’ve just morphed into a natural.