Why in the world do people keep SECRETS about motherhood? Why don’t they tell the WHOLE TRUTH and nothing but the WHOLE truth. Gosh!
This particular post has been a long time coming, but I have kept putting it off. I have asked myself if I was one of those pregnant women who did not do enough research or maybe I did not listen well enough during conversations I had with mothers.
Alas! I am not alone. Over time, a couple of friends and acquaintances have had children and there is a common thread in our conversations. One question always pops up. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this?”
It became clear that many of us prepared very hard for marriage. We seek out the possible pitfalls and prepare for them. We do the same with pregnancy. We make lists of things we must get for the baby’s nursery and general care. Following extensive search and advice we carefully pick out a hospital (and following current trends, we pick a country as well). We eat the right things-or we at least try to-, we get our maternity wear, we try to rest, we get pampered by everyone and hear all the things we should or shouldn’t do during pregnancy. What we often times do not hear are the things that can either make or break a new mother. I wonder why?
Perhaps, the assumption is that because of our culture there will be an experienced mother to help and talk us through the first few months of new-motherhood. Perhaps people are silent because they do not want to scare the pregnant woman. Maybe, the fault lies with the mother for not doing enough research. Perhaps, the issue is that people’s post-partum experiences differ so much. Deeper still, maybe there is a feeling that these experiences are either too deep to be shared or to be shared only amongst fellow mums.
In the spirit of new-motherhood, I have put together a list of things I wish I had been told before I had my baby. This list is in no way comprehensive and I would love to hear some of the things you wish you knew before you had your baby.
- You may not immediately feel mushy about your new born. You may not even want to hold your baby immediately.
- Being alone with your baby might sometimes scare you.
- Breastfeeding is hard work- for mama and baby. The cycle of nursing, then pumping can be very hectic especially if you intend to exclusively breast feed your baby and you likely work full time. Even if you do not work full time, just being on demand for your exclusively breast fed baby is a lot of work. You will feel like giving up. Hang in there sister, you can do it! It takes a lot of commitment and diligence, but I’m sure you’ve got it!
- Babies don’t always burp immediately you rub or pat their backs. All through antenatal classes we were taught to feed your baby and make sure you burp. It all sounded like once you rub or pat your baby’s back, like a miracle he will burp instantly. Alas! It doesn’t always happen. Some babies will burp quickly, others take their fiiiiinneee time. Mine fell into the second category. In addition to being a cluster feeder, she was a late ‘burper’. She would wake up, feed, fall asleep while feeding and then leave me to struggle to get her to burp. She wold burp about 45 minutes later and just as I am about to put her down she wakes up for another feeding. Gosh! I had to become creative with feeding and laying her on her side with a pillow wedged behind her.
- It seems, you don’t really know the meaning of worry till you have a baby. You will worry about the slightest of things. You will then at a point have to decide to continue worrying or hand it over to God.
- Hormones really rage post-partum and you will likely cry a lot. I heard all about hormones raging during pregnancy and this causing women to cry at will. It never happened to me. So, imagine my shock when I cried consistently for God knows how long after I had my baby. Look out for more about this in my next post.
- After nine months of not sleeping or laying on your tummy, you still can’t do so automatically. For some reason the tummy still has all that fat etc. that still needs to leave in order for you to comfortably lie on your tummy.
- Healing from an episiotomy is gangster! Yup. Gangster. You figured the actual getting will be painful. The healing is uncomfortable and often times painful. The routine of sitz baths, being careful how you sit, choice of clothes and more can be tiring. But you can at least turn the sitz bath time into me-time. Take a book or journal and write out your heart. All things being equal, you are supposed to heal from an episiotomy in six weeks.
- The rhyme “Who sat and watched my infant head” is not just a nursery rhyme. It is often times reality! Revisit the nursery rhyme and digest the lyrics.
- Sleep when your baby is sleeping might be a myth especially when there are a million and one things undone. You really should try to sleep when your baby sleeps sometimes, but I can assure you that it does not always work. Laundry, mails, blog posts, work etc. get in the way. Again, do your best and try to be deliberate about resting. Accept all the help you can and don’t be shy to ASK!
- Irregular periods post-delivery. I mean irregular. Your period may or may not ever return to what it was pre-pregnancy.
- Breast pump parts need replacement. If you intend to use them for a long while. You see those lovely breast pumps that are nicely packaged in those boxes at those prices you think should mean all parts last a life time? Sweetie, you will need to replace some parts. Regularly. Research the breast pump you are purchasing and be prepared.
Despite everything above, know this; Motherhood is beautiful and everything happens in phases. Everything listed above will pass. You have the ups and the downs and most times the fulfilment and awe of the miracle of conception, birth and privilege of parenting far outweigh any downs. Like any task in life, we accomplish better when we are fully prepared- when we know as much as possible about what we are embarking on. So, I hope this list helps someone out there prepare their minds for the possibilities. I say possibilities because post-partum experiences differ.
Like I said, the list is not exhaustive. These are the few points I can remember. I might come up with an updated list sometime soon, but till then feel free to update this list in the comments section.
Look out for my post on the absolute joys of motherhood!