I was reading a friend of a friend’s blog and she did an entry about the ubiquitous book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. For those of you who haven’t had a baby since the Dr. Spock era, What to Expect is the must have manual for moms to be. It is a helpful guide to pregnancy but it does provide a rather vanilla version of the whole experience. So, inspired by both the book and a fellow blogger I thought I would jot down some of my thoughts about what you may really expect of pregnancy and motherhood.
1. Expect to cry a million times more than you did before you became a mother. This starts before you have the baby and gets worse afterwards. I don’t mean actual sad crying, I mean the emotional sort of crying. I cannot get through a feed the children type ad without tearing up. And if there was an option to just call and have one of those children sent to my house Daddy R and I would be the next Brangelina. Sometimes just looking at Daddy R and Baby C playing will bring on that teary feeling. Other times just thinking about Baby C will get me all choked up. I think you just get so full of love that there isn’t enough room inside you for it all and it has to escape through your eyes.
2. Be prepared to realize your naivety on an almost daily basis. It is amazing how much you…and probably your baby…learn and how quickly you learn it. And with that steep learning curve comes constant moments of grasping what an idiot you were. I suppose this is why they say the second child is easier. But with the first expect to look back on a month, a week or even a day and understand that at the start of it you were completely clueless…this happens again and again and again and I imagine you remain on this cycle of cluelessness until the baby is no longer a baby but is instead about eighteen years old.
3. This is somewhat related to the point above…don’t put too much effort into trying to figure it all out. There are books, websites, doctors, your own mother who will all tell you what is best. Or rather what MIGHT be best. Because it might not be best for you and your baby at all. But I suppose the real point is that all of these sources put pressure on you as they make it seem like there is an answer…and that at some point it will all become clear and you will become the perfect mother with the perfect baby. Sometimes there are no answers…why did Baby C sleep all day yesterday but not at all today…no one knows and really putting effort into analyzing it isn’t going to make Baby C take a good nap tomorrow. Even if you were able to come up with an answer, babies develop constantly and just when you have them figured out they go and change on you. I think once you realize that you won’t ever have all the answers you are able to remove a lot of pressure from the motherhood equation and then you can go on with just enjoying your baby.
4. You will at the same time care more and less about body fluids than you ever have before. The more involves diapers…has the baby had enough wet diapers today, is baby poo supposed to look like that. The less involves you…baby pee on my shirt, baby vomit in my hair, breast milk all over my bed. And there is no sense in cleaning any of it up as it is just going to get dirty again…plus your laundry pile is already threatening to become the second highest peak in the world and so you don’t want to add more to it.
5. You will become more efficient than ever before. I know this seems counterintuitive but once the baby comes along you can’t leisurely do anything…except be with your baby. All other tasks have to be crammed into to that ten minutes when the baby is happy on the play mat or into that forty minute morning nap. Although I have heard legends of babies who actually sleep for hours during the day, my baby is not one of them so for me doing the laundry is done at a sprint.
6. You won’t sleep. Again, I have heard legends about these babies who sleep…allegedly I was even one of them. But with Baby C at four months I can count on one hand the number of nights I have had more than eight hours of sleep. You just learn to function at code red sleep deprivation levels. I think this fact was really hammered home when I flew with Baby C to the USA recently. The jet lag didn’t bother me…in fact I didn’t even really notice it…that is how used to not sleeping you get. Don’t sleep for twenty four hours…fine. Cross the international date line so that really you don’t sleep for forty eight hours…fine. Function as a mostly normal adult upon landing…fine! Of course this is not to say that you don’t crave sleep. If someone gave me the option of either not getting a full night of sleep for another month or going through labor again and getting ten hours I would pop Baby C out once more.
So that is a start on what you might expect!
Now I am off to bed. And yes I realize it is only seven in the evening…please see number six above!