“Go wipe your nose!” This was my empty prompt I made to my almost two-year-old yesterday. I never actually believed she would do it. But just like that she toddled into the bathroom, ripped off a piece of toilet paper, wiped her nose, placed it in the trash…and moved out for college. Ok, fine. Slight exaggeration. But it was the first moment I felt a tinge of baby hunger. My baby is a kid!
My mind raced through the last two years. She’s grown so fast. Who am I kidding, I HAVE GROWN SO FAST! It took 22-years of prep work, education, internships, college, critiques and do overs to turn me into a news reporter and career woman. But there is no formal training for motherhood. Overnight I was thrown into a whirlwind of full time doctor, milk-cow, cook, maid and caregiver. The last two years have been boot camp, as far as I am concerned. But just like any good kick-butt workout, the feel good part makes it alllll worth it.
Now that my baby is almost a kid, I thought it is time to sit down a list of things I wish I knew before day one of motherhood. The good. The bad. And the absolutely disgusting.
10. Shower. Disturbing that I even have to write that out. But all Mom friends agree that it becomes a rare commodity in the early stages of motherhood. Your baby will thank you and you will feel like a new woman. When all else fails, get out of your pj’s. Spruce yourself up. Care for yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s good for the whole family…just ask your husband.
9. A Mother’s Instinct is Real. You’re going to hear every snippet of advice under the sun (including mine). Moms like to talk… a lot. But I’ve learned that no one is offended if you don’t take the advice. We just like to talk because we all have a burning fire of love for motherhood. Just use your gut. Take the advice that feels right and leave the others at the door.
8. Babies Cry. My goodness did I go to the ends of earth to stop my baby from crying. I remember my husband and I spending hours on end with the shower running, bouncing up and down trying to get her to stop. We must have looked like absolute crazy people. I now realize I was hurting the situation more than helping. Give them space. Crying a little doesn’t hurt them. And despite what Grandma tells you, it’s not emotionally traumatizing.
7. Slow Down. I know everyone says it – but soak up that newborn. I spent most of the first two months on the couch with my newborn curled up on my chest snoozing. I don’t regret it for one second. I know that with baby #2 I won’t have this luxury. Newborns are magic. They are hard. But they are magic. Just enjoy it.
6. Take the Mattress Out. Sometimes it’s the simple tasks that can really fuel my grumpy fire. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has walked in on me all hot and puffy as I’ve tried to find a short cut to changing the dang sheet on a crib mattress. That dag-nab-it mattress will get stuck in the springs if you try to go halfsies. And you can never seem to pull hard enough to get that sheet over the corners. There are no short cuts. Just take it out. And I am talking all the way out. Trust me here.
5. Breastfeeding is Hard. (Pun intended) No one really talks about that fact at your baby shower. But there should really be entire series of doctor appointments dedicated to helping you figure out the science of breastfeeding. You’re not the only one that experiences difficulties. But it’s worth it. Hang in there. Call a lactation consultant and don’t give up the fight. I’ve yet to meet someone who regrets breastfeeding.
4. Schedules are Key. Our parent’s generation didn’t really believe in the whole sleep training business. My Mom (love you Mom) had me fully convinced that I (and my boobs) needed to be at my baby’s beckon call at every hour of the day. I nearly went crazy my first few month’s of motherhood without a schedule (baby blues anyone?). I’ll admit that newborns don’t do schedules well but somehow they work themselves into one in the first few months – whether you like it or not. I recommend making a plan and trying to stick to a schedule that works for you. Sleep Eat Play. It’ll save your life and your sanity. Create a bedtime so that you can have “you time” and eventually go on a date with your husband. GASP – what a luxury!
3. Babies Get Sick. I am somewhat of a germaphobe. The first time Annie got a cold I rushed her in to the doctor with fear spread over my face. My doctor proclaimed, “Yes, she has a cold.” You would have thought she just diagnosed my child with something earth shattering. Finally, after visiting the doctor almost every time we had a slight sniffle, my pediatrician told me that kids usually get 10 colds between October and March that each last about 10 days. Basically, kids have eternal runny noses. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Kids get sick and it’s not your fault.
2. Don’t Lose You. I once read that a few times a week you need to blast your hip and fab music, dance around the house and just be an adult. I couldn’t agree more. Whatever it is that defines you – keep doing it. One-day babies grow up and move on. It’s important to hold on to yourself for both the short and long run.
1. Your Heart will Burst. Despite being a little naive about the woes of motherhood, I was also naïve about how much I could love. There will be late nights. There will be tears of pain, frustration and fear. But then there are quite moments of rocking that sweet baby in your arms when you forget all of the hardships. You just feel a little heavenly. Newborns and babies are pure magic. I am convinced that our child rearing years are the prime of our lives. We will cherish these days forever. We will tell these stories for decades to come. They will be our most prized possession. Sit back and enjoy. This is the good stuff of life.
Smarties, what do you wish you knew before having a baby?