Sunday, February 23, 2014

What No One Tells You About Motherhood


A blogger friend of mine wrote this post back in October and that post among recent events have me thinking about the subject, "What no one tells you about motherhood".

Sasha is right when she says you love your baby so much it hurts, but you get a sense of that when you're pregnant. Something shifts and you feel the love radiating from your head to your toes (even when you can't see them).

We all know I was obsessed with research when I was pregnant (I still am, and proud of it!). For some reason, my research stopped at a point: delivery. After delivery, I just trusted I would "know" how things were going to go. I would just "know" how to put my baby on a schedule. I would just "know" how to cheer him up and keep him in a delightful mood all the time.

Well, I'm here to tell you about the other side of motherhood that no one tells you about: It. Is. Hard. Here are my top points about motherhood that either no one told me, or I was too stubborn to listen to. Maybe some new or soon-to-be moms can tune in and learn a little more than I was willing to. Hint: I didn't just "know" anything.

1. Sleep...? For whatever reason, the first few months of your child's life people are obsessed with asking you, "How does he/she sleep?" as if that matters. REALITY: Babies just don't sleep long stretches. And breastfed babies (generally speaking) REALLY don't sleep long stretches. And that's normal. So just invest in some Starbucks gift cards because Mama, you're gunna be up all night and in the morning you'll need a pick-me-up.

I naively wrote this post when Billy was very young and I will say it how it is; I shot myself in the foot. He started to sleep through the night very early, but it only lasted about a month. Since then, I have gotten up with him every 2-3 hours. For nine months. We tried cry-it-out, and no-cry. And gradual cry. And everything (except cosleeping but that's another post...maybe) and what I realized is what so many moms told me that I didn't want to hear. Some babies are just bad sleepers, and I got one!

I honestly assumed once babies were about three months old they slept through the night, because I never listened when people stated otherwise.

2. Development...? I rely on my own mother for a lot of child development timeline guidance because I just never thought to look into that. When should they roll over? Crawl? Walk?? I'm not really sure.

Billy is almost ten months old and just won't clap. I sit and say, "YAY! YAY!" and clap and he just stares at me like, "Lady, WTF." I am learning now every child develops that way. We all speak and walk and use forks and drink out of open top cups and learn to clap our hands. It's okay if your child is slower at one or all of these things, because at some point (barring any physical hindrances) we all learn how to do them!

Parenthood brings out a competitive edge you've never experienced before and I am here to tell you to just bury that edge deep down. Your baby is special and beautiful and it's okay if he does things on a different timeline than his peers. You can't force him to walk or talk or use a fork if he isn't ready. Eventually, he will. Or, he will keep looking at you like, "Lady...WTF".

3. Food...? Similar to above, at some point all babies learn to eat everything you feed them. If you choose to feed them prime rib the first day eating solids, they will eat it (or, try). If you choose to blend organic apples and sweet potatoes, they will eat that too. The natural progression of life is that eventually all babies learn to eat food. Do the research before you start this stage to know which method of introducing solids best suits your lifestyle. For our family, Baby Led Weaning was the answer and I have 100% no regrets about that. For others, purees are the way to go. Similar to breast or bottle, it's completely what works for your lifestyle and your beliefs. At some point, we all can go to a restaurant and order from the menu.

4. Clothes...? We received many hand me downs for Billy, so now that he is cruising through his size 12m clothes I am now buying him a full wardrobe for the first time. Until now he's worn gifts or hand me downs entirely, or a onesie I thought was cute and picked up here or there.

Cloth diapered babies can't wear regular jeans, khakis or cords!! Their fluffy butts take up so much room you have to get stretchy-only pants or some of these amazing made-for-cloth-booty-jeans. I've learned at this size, girl pants fit Billy better!!! Jot him down for a few extra pairs of size 18m Circo jeggings please, because they are amazing.

Which brings me to the next point of this piece, the sizes are wacked. Some things he still fits 6-12m. Some things he's only 18m. Some things he's still 9m. Everything is completely dependent on the baby and you will be constantly packing up outgrown clothes. (Such a bittersweet moment).

5. Babies CRY! I am fairly active on some local mommy Facebook groups and SO often moms will post about their little crying in the first few weeks. I now read the posts out loud to my husband and we have a good chuckle about the good 'ole days when we were there too.

So many nights we were shh'ing and swaddling and swinging to no avail. Eventually it stuck when my mom told me, "Babies CRY!". So to all of you new or soon-to-be's: IT'S NORMAL. YOUR BABY WILL CRY. A LOT!!!! At some point they snap out of it. I am not down playing it, I'm not telling you you need to toughen up. I am simply stating, you are not alone. All. Babies. Cry. Some...a lot. It's those early weeks when you're so new at being a parent when you feel most helpless that are so, so, brutally hard. I wish I had known that it was normal to feel that defeated.

All of these things said, I wouldn't change a thing I did this first time around as a mom. I have learned so much being Billy's mom I love sharing what I've learned with new and almost mommies. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and over the last (almost) ten months I can tell you I am a stronger woman than I've ever been.

What parts of motherhood surprised you the most? 


  1. This was a great post. I can relate to most all of it. We blissfully had a month of sleeping through the night at 3 months, and haven't had it again since 4 months. Now, we're up every 2-3 hours. So much fun. The crying, yes, went through it all.

  2. HI Jess! this post couldn't have come at a better time! in fact, being a new mom of a 3 week old, I was thinking to myself 'what mom's didn't tell me about being a new mom' while nursing at 3am. Like you, I had done my research on how I wanted labor and delivery to go. Despite a few complications, my daughter's delivery went like I had envisioned and is an amazingly beautiful story! However, its the after labor I needed 'help' with.

    While in the hospital and after we were all settled into our room, friends and family wanted to stop by. They wanted to meet our new bundle and we wanted our daughter to meet everyone too (we welcomed the visitors). What I was not prepared for was the emotions I would feel later. I am sure it was the excitement of having a new baby and all the visitors we were having, but I didn't get the chance to go through the emotions of having a child, going through labor and becoming a family of three. I didn't get to cry, not that they would have been sad tears, but just tears, just tears to say I did this.. my body did this... my daughter is here. So I ended up crying a lot at home...and I mean a lot and over the silliest things.

    Breastfeeding: OMG! No one can prepare you for this! I did take a class through my hospital and through my birthing class, however, until you are there trying to get this beautifully, wiggly new life to latch (and latch good), you will never be prepared! I was in so much pain, I almost gave up on nursing my daughter. The bonding time I had pictured and desired was becoming a time with her that I dreaded. I didn't want to supplement because I felt like a failure. Like I was missing out on something so incredibly special and I was being selfish. I did end up supplementing for about a day and then began pumping so she was still getting the good stuff and I could heal. Good news is nursing has been much better and she is proof of that.

    Having a great support system: I am fortunate that most of my really good friends have children and I have my family! I never knew the amount of love a parent can have for their child. I would have never understood why my mom would hear I needed her here and would fly 1300 miles at the drop of a hat to help and support her daughter - I understand this now! My mom was able to help me realize I was doing a good job at nursing and helped me get through the rough patch. She also helped us just realize that our daughter doesn't need to be held all the time (even when sleeping :). Having my mom here to help, especially the first night she was there, was the first night, I was able to sleep more than 45 minutes at a time and she put my husband and me at ease.

    Our friends have been amazing! Whether it was bringing us lunch, staying with me while my husband ran to the airport to pick up my mom :), asking advice on nursing/latching or just being an ear to cry with. We are so lucky!!!

    I know there are more 'things' people didn't tell me about being a parent, however these are my major ones.

    Thanks for writing your post, again it couldn't have come at a better time for me!