My husband and I took an eight-week childbirth class when we were pregnant with our first. It was a great class with relaxation practices, in-depth information on common and uncommon birthing procedures, lists of different options, and space for questions. However, there are many other pieces of wisdom that would have been helpful to my parenting had I heard them before going into raising children.
The following is a list of things I have compiled based on my short experience of being a mom. My intention in sharing them is not to make you apprehensive of parenthood, but to provide a sense of community for you. I want you to know that you are not crazy, abnormal, nor alone.
1. Having a baby can cause heavy tension between parents.
The lack of sleep is debilitating, the cocktail of hormones is exhausting, the need to share decision-making can bring up communication challenges, and the potential resentment that builds up from who is doing more can be poison to a relationship. It is important to be aware of your needs and voice them often to find solutions before they become bigger issues; I also recommend encouraging your partner to do the same.
2. Sex will not be a priority, and this is okay.
Again, the lack of sleep and the hormones will be new and may cause challenges in accepting and embracing your postpartum body.
3. Diapers will be expensive.
There is no way around this, and potty training will not work unless the child is ready for it.
4. Do not waste your money on baby toys.
I recommend using plastic storage items like Tupperware, plastic cups, and boxes. These items will keep children entertained far longer than any expensive toy.
5. Feeling overwhelmed and lost is completely normal.
I would like to mention again that you are not alone. Find your village.
6. You will not be able to sleep when your baby is up crying nor when your baby is sleeping.
Your baby’s crying will keep you up because the decibel level of the cries at 2 in the morning can make your ears bleed. (Yes, I am being facetious.) You will be up when your baby is sleeping because you will want to watch their angel face while they sleep.
7. Lying on your stomach for the first time after having your baby is not going to feel as great as you think it might.
For lactating moms, when the milk comes in, your bosom will feel like two pouches full of rocks.
8. You do not have to follow your parents’ advice.
You are the parent. May I be the one to affirm that you are not a bad child nor mother for not following your parent’s suggestions. Follow your instincts.
9. It is okay if you do not want to see anyone for the first two weeks.
I understand everyone wants to meet baby right away. I get it, new life is exciting, but in my case, I wanted to be mama bear bonding in my cave with my baby for the first weeks. (It is important to recognize why you want to be alone. Is it because of feelings of a honeymoon period or because of sadness?)
10. You will lose some friends.
I do not mean “lose” as in your friendship will end, but friends who are not parents yet may not resonate with you; this, too, is okay. You are not doing anything wrong.
11. There is no set time on when you have to be out of the postpartum period.
It took me five years since my firstborn — two years after my second — to feel ready to be an individual again.
12. The parenting journey is the most bittersweet journey you will ever travel.
There will be many heartaches, but even more joy.
What else would you add to my list? —Jasmin