The Good, the bad, and the unexpected:
When I went into labor on that hot day last September, I couldn’t have felt more ready. My bag was packed with everything (and more) that I could possibly need to give birth, our nursery filled with items to last our baby until her first birthday, and my mind overflowing with knowledge from the plethora of research and reading I had done over the last 9 months. I left for the birth center with a “bring it” attitude. How hard could this whole parenting thing be?
The moment Hadley was born all of my preparation went out the window. I had nothing in my bag, in her nursery, or in my mind that could help me now. This tiny, helpless thing laying on my chest was mine, and it was up to me to take care of her. What did I get myself into?
No book, blog, or person told me that my baby might have colic, AND reflux, AND struggle to breastfeed. No one told me how much my boobs would leak during the night or how painfully emotional I would be the days after birth. No one told me how amazing it would feel to see my baby smile for the first time, or how much sleep I would lose once we moved her out of our room and into her nursery. No one told me any of these things. And looking back now, I am glad they didn’t. They couldn’t really, for each experience is different from the next.
This has been the greatest, most challenging adventure I have ever embarked on. Not knowing what to expect has challenged me emotionally, mentally, and physically. Being ill-prepared (which is something I have rarely ever been my whole life) has made me a better mom, and a better person.
When I finally feel like I have got this whole parenting thing down, Hadley reminds me of just how little I know. While there is little I can tell you (look at it as a blessing) that will actually prepare you for motherhood, I would love to share some of the good, the bad, and the unexpected at six months post-baby.
I’m not pregnant anymore: As much as I LOVED being pregnant, I will be the first to admit that it feels good to have my body back (for the most part). It still isn’t entirely mine, for as I type my daughter is grabbing my shirt in hunger.
My body is also different, but I can sleep on my stomach, wear non-stretchy pants, and paint my own toenails. It’s hard to believe my belly ever looked like that!
Also, trading being pregnant for this?
The Love: Everyone told me that the second my baby was born I would fall in love instantly. It’s not that I didn’t love her from the second the midwife laid her on my belly, because I did. Its just that she wasn’t the “baby bump” I had bonded with over the last nine months. She was no longer that profile I saw on the sonograms, the kicks I felt late into the night, and the little girl I pictured in my mind for 9 very long months. It took us a minute to get acquainted and start our love story. Each day, I fall more and more in love with her.
Baby gets the attention rather than my belly: I must admit that part of me loved the attention you get when you are pregnant. But toward the end of my pregnancy, the “when are you due”, “you are carrying so low”, “you can’t only be 6 months pregnant” comments got old FAST.
Ever since Hadley was born, the attention went from my belly, to the baby. Which is a good thing, because I sure hoped no one would comment on my belly after giving birth.
It is so fun to see the smiles, laughs, and conversations having a new baby has started. Even when my husband is home to watch her so I can go to the grocery store, I find myself wanting to bring her because I am just so proud of the sweet girl she is. She smiles at everyone she sees and I feel like she can make someones day who needs it!
The only attention I no longer get is from men. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, but I truly haven’t been hit on ONCE since having my baby. The closest I got to attention was when I was out at happy hour with my girl friends, some guy totally checked out my boobs…which leads me to the next topic…
The Boobs: As a former “A cupper”, I never really understood the upside of boobs. My previous small boob mindset caused me to only think of the negative things associated with them such as, “it would hurt to run”, “you can’t go bra-less”, and “guys don’t really like them big”. Apparently, I didn’t know what I was missing.
While these babies are only on rent, I will not take them for granted. Breastfeeding for the win.
Hair Loss: When I read about losing hair post baby I didn’t know what they meant. I have always had a LOT of hair and wasn’t concerned that I might lose a little more hair in the shower each morning. At around 3.5 months post-baby big chunks started falling out. Nobody told me that I would lose HALF of my hair. These are the times when people focusing only on Hadley is really beneficial :)
Hair from ONE time of brushing it
Birth Control: Normally I like birth control. I am a very routine person who doesn’t like surprises, and with birth control, you always know what (and when) to expect. Even after I started taking the “mini pill” (which is a progesterone only pill safe to take while breastfeeding) I still had no idea that I wasn’t going to get a period each month. That you take the packs back to back . That it’s not nearly as effective as the birth control I was on BEFORE we got pregnant. So it’s like Russian Roulette. Fingers crossed that my period doesn’t start while I am wearing white skinny jeans . Talk about ill-prepared…
Periods (or lack there of): The last time I wished for my period was on my 13th birthday. I felt like all of my friends were “becoming women” and I was still stuffing my training bra just trying to fit in. But seriously. I am going on 16 months without a period and it is sort of freaking me out. I am ready to feel like a woman again! 13 going on 30 for real.
Phantom Kicks: The last few months I thought I was going crazy. I would be sitting there playing on the floor with Hadley, and suddenly feel a baby kicking in my belly. After two negative pregnancy tests I decided to do a little research. While I found no hard evidence from a reliable source on this topic, I was relieved to see many other post-partum ladies feeling the same thing. One theory points to our increased awareness of our body, making it easier to feel every twinge or gas bubble (which feels like a baby kick). The other theory is that our uterus is slowly contracting down to it’s normal size causing a kick-like feeling. Whatever it is, it is the weirdest feeling ever…to be looking at my baby and “feeling her kick” all at the same time…
The Questions: I thought people were nosy about pregnancy, but didn’t expect the loads of questions after baby aside from the “what is her name”, “how old is she” small talk. Boy was I wrong. While I am not shy about most topics, it is crazy that complete strangers have asked me questions such as “are you nursing?” or “have you lost your baby weight yet?”. But my FAVORITE is the “when are you having another one?” Really? I seriously JUST had a baby! I am trying to enjoy every second I can and all everyone else wants to know is when the next one is coming. I don’t even know just yet IF there will be another one. I am having WAY too much fun with this one to think that far ahead.
I’m not the mom I envisioned:
Before we become moms, we all picture what we will be like. A well dressed, perfect dinners every night, homemade baby food making, scheduled, nursing cover wearing mama…well I discovered VERY QUICKLY that that’s just not me. And it took actually HAVING a baby to realize it.
I am lucky if I get a shower before 8pm. Most days I don’t change out of my workout clothes. Some nights we have frozen chicken nuggets and a salad because I just can’t think of anything else. Hadley hates the baby food I make so we feed her the same things we eat. Steak and whipped cream are some of her favorite foods. We have no schedule. She eats, naps and plays as she likes. I nurse my baby wherever she pleases, and if someone doesn’t like it, they can look away.
But I am so happy I am not the mom I envisioned. I am more laid back, silly, and messy than I ever imagined. We play, and sing, and dance. We hike and explore, sing the alphabet while we drive, make funny faces at each other and just let the house get messy. Hadley has dictated the kind of mother I am, and I am forever grateful to her!
Every Day is different: Whats works one day, doesn’t always work the next day. Right when I think I figured out how to get her to nap, she decides she doesn’t need to nap anymore. When I find a food she loves, she spits it out the next time I try to feed it to her. I have learned to never get used to things because they change. I live by the motto “this too shall pass”, and it always does.
Motherhood is an adventure you just can’t prepare for. Our education system fooled me into thinking that studying it enough would lead me to success. But success and parenting aren’t two words that go together.
Motherhood has humbled me. It has calmed me, challenged me, and absolutely completed my life. If I do nothing else great in this lifetime, I can look back and say I did the greatest thing of all. This adventure, that I was never prepared for, has been the greatest one of all.