6 Things They Never Told You About Motherhood

6 Things They Never Told You About Motherhood

Baby magazines, books and leaflets available to pregnant women are full of tips, advice and pointers for women who are just beginning their parenting journey.  However, these little titbits just don’t give you the full picture.   Allow me to fill in the gaps :)

#1 – Your views will change as your baby grows

When I was pregnant, I was full of big ideas about how I was going to raise my child, how I would always have a consistent bedtime routine (and therefore my child would sleep great), how I would only breastfeed for a few months and how having a baby wouldn’t actually change my life all that much. HA HA HA. Yeah.

Pregnant women are sponges. They are ready and willing to soak up every little titbit of information and knowledge on pregnancy, birth and raising their babes. And of course, some of them – including me, back in the day – will conclude that they have learnt enough to totally rock at motherhood from the get-go.

However, we all generally come to realise that even the best-laid plans go awry. And that’s OK. Going with the flow is much better, anyway.

#2 – Having a baby sleeping in your arms ROCKS.

The baby sleep books, ranging from the gentle, baby-focused No Cry Sleep Solution to the harsh routines of Gina Ford, basically hinge on one idea – that if you lay your baby down alone just before they are ready to sleep, they will learn to fall asleep on their own. Furthermore, if you do this from the very beginning, they will be used to it and it won’t be a struggle. I have to call bullshit on this one. Of course it will be true for SOME babies, but certainly not all, or even most. And besides – there is nothing, NOTHING in this world that is more joyous and satisfying than having a beautiful sleeping baby on your chest with their head tipped back and face so close to yours you can smell their sweet, milky breath. I never WANTED to put either of mine down to sleep.

#3 – Sometimes breastfeeding sucks.

Most of the literature available to pregnant mothers about breastfeeding acknowledges that although breastfeeding is natural and normal, it can be very hard at times. However, I haven’t seen much literature (at least the mainstream stuff) that talks about how difficult breastfeeding can be emotionally, especially in the first couple of months when you have gone from being free and easy to feeling essentially like a glorified dairy cow, sat on the couch for hours on end nursing, nursing, nursing…

So yeah, it can be really tough at times. Many, many women I know have told me that part of the reason why they stopped breastfeeding was because they weren’t enjoying it much and they thought they were supposed to love it, therefore they figured they must have been doing it wrong. Well, listen up ladies – sometimes, you won’t love it. Especially in the first 6 months, when it can feel like a hard slog at times (especially at night). It does get *so much* easier and more enjoyable though, I promise.

#4 – There’s very little you can do to influence your baby’s sleep

Again, lots of the books will have you believe that if you just do everything right, your baby will sleep much better and will sleep through quicker than they would have done had you just done whatever the hell was easiest at the time. Again, I call bullshit. Yes, some babies’ sleep can be influenced by changes you make. A relaxing, calming bedtime routine is crucial for some babies in order to sleep well, and making an effort to put your baby down to sleep might get them used to ‘self soothing’. However, most babies will do whatever the hell they want at night, regardless of what you do or don’t do. I remember rigidly sticking to our routine when Monkey was a tiddler, and honestly, looking back I think it was more for my sanity than for Monkey’s sleep. He would have been an atrocious sleeper no matter what I did.

And I think that’s the point – if doing all the things you’re ‘supposed’ to do in order to help your baby sleep makes YOU feel better, and nobody is suffering because of it, then all power to you. Do whatever the hell you need to do to get yourself through the tough times. Just please, please don’t be That Mum who smugly gloats about how your 14 week old baby is sleeping 6 hour stretches because of your Magical Routine, because all that will do is make the rest of us cross our fingers and hope that the four month sleep regression is just around the corner for you.

#5 – You will feel very, very lonely sometimes

Especially if you are the first out of your group of friends to have kids, you may find yourself feeling very isolated. Motherhood can be a thankless task sometimes, and it’s important to surround yourself with people who really get you and understand why you need them to leave by 1.30pm so the baby can nap, why you cant answer the phone at 5.30pm and listen to rants about a boyfriend or the latest local gossip for an hour, and why you can’t drop everything and meet up at a moments notice.

I’m not saying you should ditch your no-baby friends – far from it! I LOVE my no-baby friends. They’re amazing, especially when I want to do no-baby things and the hubster can watch the kids whilst I escape for a couple of precious hours. They also love doing fun stuff with me and the kids, like going to the park on a sunny day. But when the going gets tough – you haven’t slept in a week, the preschooler’s behaviour is making you want to hurl yourself out of a 2nd floor window and the house is a state – your mummy friends are the ones you turn to. They’re the ones who get you.

#6 – You will get such pleasure from the simplest of things.

Seeing your child master a skill for the first time. Your baby’s sleeping face in the half-light at 4am. Rainy days spent watching movies, snuggled under a duvet. A soft little hand reaching for yours as you walk into town to run errands. Getting them all into bed at the end of the day, breathing a sigh of relief and then proceeding to spend 20 minutes gazing at them asleep in their beds, marvelling over how small they really are.

OK, so your life may not be the exciting, spontaneous adventure it used to be, but let’s face it – however often it may drive you crazy, you wouldn’t swap it for anything :)

 

 

What truths do you wish you were warned about before you had children?

Comments

  1. April says

    After two kids, I thought I had the sleep thing down. I knew exactly how to get them to sleep and mine were great at sleeping through the night.

    Enter, baby #3…. I can get him to sleep no problem, but he is the lightest sleeper I’ve ever known! He wakes up if we open the door, and just grab something without even steping in the room! I swear he wakes up if I breathe in his general direction.

    So, this has led to your 1st point, my views had to change when the children changed. Makes me feel for the 10 yr old, who gets all our ‘experiments in parenting’.

    • says

      Haha, ‘experiments in parenting’, love it!! We often refer to Monkey as our Trial and Error child (not to his face, obviously, haha). It’s a damn good thing they’re so resilient, hey ;)

  2. says

    Aw yeah! LOVE this :) It’s so hard to relate these things to people who don’t have kids without them wondering why the hell you decided to have them in the first place, or why you would even consider more! Equally, I just LOVE anyone who’s open and honest about it all cos there are not enough women who stand up and say “MY GOD this is SHIT sometimes, but I still love it!”

    Kudos x

    • says

      Haha yes, it really can be astonishingly shit at times, can’t it? We must be gluttons for punishment (and for sleepy smushy baby kisses at 3am :) )

  3. Amy says

    The consuming worry, after I had my son I was fretting about something and my mum said just you wait till he’s staying out all night! All those times I went out carefree and suddenly I understood how she must have been feeling. You have to let them go and learn their own way but it doesn’t change the sick feeling at the bottom of your stomach!

    • says

      Oh god yes, I have no idea how I missed that!! It’s like a knot in your stomach, always worrying about them… Like you said, I know now how my mum must have felt when I would go off clubbing as a teenager, or staying out all night at house parties getting up to goodness knows what…. Gah, I hope my kids don’t give me a taste of my own medicine!!

  4. says

    So, so true! Yep, being a mum is the best thing that’s EVER happened to me, my kids are great (most of the time) and I’m lucky to have a loving and nurturing husband…. but it can still be HELL!!!!!! And yes, I’m pregnant with no. 3, even though I have days when I really want to run away from them all!

    I think often it’s parents of single children who believe their ‘formula’ works; I have to admit, I was occasionally a little smug when no.1 slept like an angel. Then no. 2 arrived and coming up to two years later still doesn’t sleep through the night every night… it’s only when a DIFFERENT child comes along that you realise exactly that – they’re all different people. Even though it’s pretty unnatural for a baby to go to sleep alone in the dark anyway, this is what we expect them to do. Yet as much as I want them to be happy, I need my time to myself in the evening :)

    • says

      Thank you for commenting! I completely relate to what you said about being smug… I felt the same when Monkey got all the way to age 3 with absolutely impeccable behaviour, an endlessly empathetic and gentle nature and no aggression whatsoever. Lets just say that this past year has been somewhat of a learning curve ;)

      Yes, time to ourselves in the evening is so important! I know a few families, online and in ‘real life’, whose children just go to bed at the same time they do. It works for them, so all power to them, but man… I couldn’t do it. Bedtime is my favourite time of the day, haha.

  5. Jen Beaujeux says

    So true – all of it. Particularly the “getting your baby into a sleep routine” thing. My son (7 months) has a will of his own and will not go to sleep until he decides, no matter what routine, what calming strategies I employ. The routine is for me to make me feel like I have some sort of control over the situation! It is such hard hard work, but I love it and it is the best and most rewarding thing I have ever done.

    • says

      Sounds like both of my kiddo’s! Haha. They really will do what pleases them! Some people seem to have these Magic Babies who are yielding to the implication of a sleep schedule, which is fine of course, they are all different after all… I just resent people telling mums that they must be ‘doin’ it RONG’ if their child isn’t sleeping like Gina Ford says they should.

    • says

      LOL! Oh love, I feel your pain! Squish’s lasted…. 4 months, I think, then we started co-sleeping. I wonder how much longer it would have continued if we hadn’t been able to!

      • says

        We’ve been co-sleeping since day 1. We’ve tried everything to help her sleep better; bassinet, a rocking bed thing, different routines, “tanking up” before bed, pacifiers, refusing the breast, giving the breast at every waking, pumped milk in a bottle, music, white noise, bouncing, rocking, on and on and on. She still wakes up about once every hour or two. I think it’s truly just a phase. Sometimes I think, “What are we doing wrong???” But in my gut, I know the answer is NOTHING. She’s just a baby. She nurses on demand (going 4 months strong!), cosleeps, we wear her, etc. I think she just really loves her mom and dad and wants to interact with us constantly, lol. I just wish she didn’t want to interact so much at night!

        • says

          Argh, I feel your pain, it’s so hard!! You’re right though, it really will pass and you’ve done nothing wrong! It’s so wonderful to hear of first time parents following their instincts, I wish I’d had the courage to do so earlier!

  6. says

    Yes! The breastfeeding one is so important for new mothers to know. Whenever someone I know says they plan to breastfeed, this is one of the things I bring up to them. It’s not that I want to rain on their parade, but it’s so important to know that you’re not going to love every minute of it. And I ALWAYS mention that 6-week-old growth spurt. You know, the time when you have a baby attached to your boob 24/7 for weeks? So many moms quit about then because they think they aren’t producing enough and they think they’ll never get to put the baby down for more than a diaper change ever again.

    • says

      Haha, I always warn them about growth spurts too! I remember freaking out and calling my midwife when Monkey was 5 weeks old, thank goodness she was knowledgeable and explained what was going on!

      There is definitely a general idea that breastfeeding is supposed to be this amazing, wonderful, womanly thing. And yes, it can be, but like you say it’s important that mums know that it’s not always hearts and flowers. A friend of mine once said that breastfeeding is like pregnancy, sometimes it’s amazing and other times it really, really sucks, but we do it because the end result is so important :)

  7. says

    Great post! I can completely relate, especially with the sleeping thing. I read all the books, the ones that tell you to let them cry it out, and the ones that say letting them cry is harmful. With such mixed messages, I put the books aside and just went on instinct.

    In the end, my son seems to set his own schedule and behavior, and then when I get on board with it, he switches it up! Every day is a unique experience, you really can’t prepare yourself in advance. But, I guess that’s half the fun, isn’t it? :)

  8. Cat Cabral says

    Thank you for this, especially 2 and 4. My little one is 7 weeks old, we co-sleep in our double bed, I love it and my husband is supportive it even though we only have a double bed. We cuddle all the time and I rarely put her down to sleep because she almost always wakes up. I keep being told that I’m spoiling her and creating bad habits but your writing has renewed my confidence.

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