We’ve all been there.
Daydreaming about what life with a baby would be like, without truly knowing what to expect. Thinking we “know” how things will turn out, but in the back of our minds knowing that it will be different. Now that Lexi is 1 YEAR OLD, i can look back at the year of babyhood and see things for what they were.
I don’t think Andrew and I were off base when imagining what life with a baby would be like. I think it’s that we couldn’t FEEL that difference until said baby came along.
All the negative “just you waits” from bitter moms were met with an eye roll. All the good-hearted ones were a drop in a bucket of the attempt to imagine our life with the baby.
I don’t think you can know what it is going to be like. No matter how hard you try. I think you can picture it, but you cannot FEEL it. So here’s what WE thought life with a baby would be like. And here is how we were wrong (or right).
Keep in mind that our experience will most likely NOT be yours. Your baby might sleep 16 hours a day and be the newborn you read in all the books about, nurse like a champ from day 1, fall asleep in your sling or contently stare at the mobile while you go around your business. That was not our experience. Nor was it the experience of millions of other parents. Because every baby is UNIQUE!
LABOR & BIRTH
I had hoped that Hypnobabies would help me get through labor but I was prepared for it to go whatever way it would, since I had read/heard how unpredictable it is.
This is a great example of the importance of being prepared for ANYTHING ( as long as you know what anything is…sometimes you don’t know what to prepare for). I didn’t blink an eye or had any regrets as to how my labor went. I was surprisingly happy for every single step of it, from epidural to pitocin (even though I had been gearing up for natural labor). I would do the same thing all over again if I had to, not just because it gave me Miss Lexi but because it was a really great and positive experience, as far as labors are concerned.
Horrible bleeding, not being able to move for days, hurt all over, body looking like crap, postpartum hormones all over the place.
Reality: I had mentioned before that my recovery was a piece of cake. I had minimal bleeding that subsided on day 2 to a normal period bleeding and went away within a week. I felt pretty good physically overall. My butt did hurt for about a week, but that was probably the worst of it. My belly shrunk to normal size within 2 weeks, though I was still 5 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I was not that emotional, either. I mean I had slightly heightened emotions, connected with struggles with breastfeeding and lack of sleep, but nothing out of the ordinary ( same was with pregnancy, I never had the pregnancy emotions). But like my friends joke, karma did get me in the butt by having my regular period (and all the awesome side effects) return at 3 months post partum while EBFing lol
Newborns cry a lot, sometimes for no reason.
I am not sure if we were lucky, or if the fact that I eliminated dairy out of my diet 3 week prior to giving birth and then continued eliminating potentially offensive foods helped, or the fact that we answered her every cry and need immediately so she didn’t really need to cry much to get her needs met, but aside from specific “I want food, I need a diaper change, I want cuddles” cries, she was a calm baby. One exception was when she would experience a particularly painful bout of reflux.
Speaking of reflux,
We expected gas pains and tummy problems, since that’s what everyone we have ever heard complained about when it came to newborns. We knew NOTHING about reflux.
She had absolutely NO tummy or gas troubles. Ok, that might be an exaggeration. I seem to remember two times when she was crying and pulling her legs up and we needed to massage her tummy to help her poop. But other than that, tummy pain was just NOT an issue. Again, I suspect it might have something to do with lack of cow’s milk proteins in my diet since it’s a common culprit of gas pains in newborns, however my diary-free diet did not prevent her from having reflux, which made her and us more miserable than we liked it. Luckily, it wasn’t so bad that we had to medicate and thankfully she grew out of most of it by 4 months, but we could have definitely done without that grief.
As per baby books, a typical newborn will sleep around the clock only to wake up to feed and for active alert time. After the first two weeks of such behavior, he/she will then continue sleeping 14-16 hours a day. We never thought we’d get a good sleeper. But we did think we would get the typical 2 hour stretch of sleep between breastfeeding sessions at night and considered that to be pretty reasonable.
Whoa! This was SO OFF for us and a few other people I know. I think the reality of HOW little some newborns sleep hits you hard. Two hours of sleep would have been a God sent for us back then. We would be lucky if we got 40 minutes once every 3 hours. You expect this sleepy little thing and you get this alert little bundle who will not close her eyes regardless of how many hours you rock and nurse her. I think even with the standard sleeper of a newborn (aside from a few “lucky” people who couldn’t wake up their baby to feed her), you just don’t realize how much “needing” happens in between. In our case, Alexis wouldn’t sleep for more than 10-15 minutes without waking up until we figured certain things out.
I would get so much done during the day in the first few months, because babies’ awake time is limited, so naps would be my “free time” as a stay at home mom to cook, clean, do crafts, blog, read, etc.
This is probably the one and only expectation that I outright LAUGH AT! It has not been true even for a second, not then, not now. Granted, I had a baby who is particularly hard to put to sleep and keep asleep, but from what I can tell many parents struggle with this one, too. Many parents realize that their baby likes to be held. That’s completely normal and natural, and depending on your baby’s temperament, he will most likely let you know in no uncertain terms that he is to be held 24/7. That was Lexi. Naps – in my arms, night sleep – on our chest (or later next to us in bed). It took a few month to come to terms with the fact that I am NOT going to get anything done, but with that attitude adjustment came much more peace.
2 hour naps. I don’t know remember where I got it from but I was convinced babies nap for 1.5-2 hrs.
This couldn’t be further from the truth for us. Lexi was a classic 1 cycle sleeper, which meant she’d wake up from a nap every 30-40 minutes. Thankfully, as she got older she got better at putting herself back to sleep, but occasionally during times when she is working on a milestone, she will still wake up after 30 minutes and proceed to work on whatever it is she is trying to perfect.
Mornings- ugh! Waking up at 6-6:30 will be absolutely awful.
It’s really not that bad. And I am NOT a morning person, so that is a lot coming from me ( I am also a very positive person, so I expect many people would feel differently lol) As long as you get a decent amount of sleep at night, 6-7 am wake ups is something you get used to. It’s actually kind of nice, because unlike waking up at noon which is what I used to do, such early wake-ups mean getting a lot more done during the day.
I thought that knowing the techniques, being prepared, having memorized The Happiest Baby on the Block, etc would mean that all of that would magically work and we would have a completely calm perfect baby who falls asleep on cue.
While every single bit of reading you can accomplish during pregnancy to prepare for the little one is extremely important, and has helped me immensely, I was not prepared for HOW DIFFERENT babies are and how what works for one (according to the book author) will not work for the other. Everything I’ve read and done made a big difference in my level of confidence and how we cared for Alexis, but it definitely was not a magic pill. So read everything, memorize everything, but when it comes to books telling you EXACTLY how you should do things, take it with a grain of salt, because every baby is an individual and the best thing is to follow your mommy intuition while being armed with facts and knowledge.
It would be absolutely horrible, I would be a walking zombie and would be tempted to sleep train my baby by 6 months.
Everyone is different in how they handle sleep deprivation and the first few months were rough as hell, but I was lucky to have a great support system for that time. However, after the newborn period , even though Alexis was still waking up 4-6 times a night and sometimes every hour, I felt ok. I could manage and eventually got completely used to frequent wake ups. At this point, she still wakes up 1-3 times on a good night and 6 times on a rough night and I am ok with that. It helps that we bedshare, so I don’t have to fully wake up to tend to her (unless she’s doing one of those 2 am “fully awake playtime” nights)
I was on such a high from the idea of breastfeeding that I would have dreams about breastfeeding and the joy it brought to me and connection I had with Alexis. I had read 3 different breastfeeding books and was as ready as one can be. I had even practiced latching a baby on and had studied the technique. I was CONVINCED that if you properly latch a baby, there will be no pain. All the materials I’ve read said that painful breastfeeding IS NOT normal and it most likely means that the latch is wrong, so all you have to do is fix the latch. So I was confident that I would do just that, given that breastfeeding is such a natural thing, surely the baby is born knowing what to do and we, mothers, have a brain to figure it out quickly, as well.
Holy crap! How can “experts” be SO WRONG? Did they themselves tried breastfeeding? Or did they talk to more than 2 women when writing them? And what the hell are they doing misleading the women into thinking it’s all blissfull all the time or you’re doing it wrong? If my breastfeeding experience was one in a million, then I’d be like “Ok, shit happens“. But I have had countless women comment, email, facebook me about their first 6-8 weeks of painful breastfeeding. How can it be NOT normal if, dare I say, more than 50% experience that?
Yes, the latch is usually the issue here, BUT I KNEW how to latch a baby on, I knew all the facts and techniques and yet my baby simply would have a shallow latch. Boom!
Nothing I could do about it! No matter how hard I tried through tears to get her to latch on with her mouth open wide, she JUST wouldn’t do it. Until the magical 6-8 weeks . I am convinced that it JUST takes this long for the baby to learn how to effectively breastfeed. Some babies are born with a perfect latch, others don’t get why their mother keeps unlatching them when they are hungry, and latch them on again while chanting “open wide open wide“. I would not have known, had it not been for my friend and neighbor who had the same exact experience. All I needed to do is to just get through it.
I had read many blogs and books about breastfeeding and the common theme there was that so many moms falsly believe that they have low milk supply because of the baby’s behavior. I educated myself and was adamant not to worry about my supply.
When my baby arrived and started crying at the breast around week 4, I was sure that I didn’t have enough milk for her. I couldn’t pump that much, I was using a nipple shield so I worried that it reduced my supply, she breastfed constantly- all signs of low supply, right? Wrong! Despite the fact that Alexis had 10-12 wet diapers and 10 poopy diapers a day, despite all the knowledge I had and facts I was armed with, I still second guessed myself.
LIFE WITH A BABY
The baby can be put down in a chair or on a blanket and I can do other things while it calmly plays with its hands.
Again, some babies like to be held 24/7 and most babies like to be near their mommies even if they are not held. I couldn’t do anything for months, because she would cry the second she is put down, or the second I left the room (when she was a bit older). Only at 7-8 months she started being ok with me leaving for a few minutes as long as she was occupied with other things. But most of the time she still likes me nearby when she plays.
I’d carry her in a sling to places and events while she sleeps in it peacefully. I would wear her everywhere and carry her in a carrier till she is 2 or 3.
When I thought that, I always had this thing in the back of my mind “… if she is an easy going baby, but I doubt she will be”. So I sort of expected not to be able to take her places, but I had hoped I somehow would. Well, let’s see, she would NEVER fall asleep in a carrier, hated slings. I was able to take her out ONCE in a Moby when she actually slept in it, but it was not long lived. She hated her car seat with a passion, didn’t like the stroller, so we simply had to become hermits for the first 4 months of her life to make sure she is comfortable and not too stressed.
Looking back at it now, Alexis has been very consistent with what she didn’t like. She hates being restrained. Period. Now that she is older, she will tolerate it for a period of time, but then she JUST WANTS TO BE OUT!
From the moment they are born you heart expands.
My heart didn’t magically expand at birth. I loved her very much from the very first moment of conception. I would have done ANYTHING to protect her. Instead it slowly grew and grew and grew, as I spent more time with Alexis. It’s like you cannot imagine loving someone more and yet the next month comes and magically you do. From the moment of her birth, I continued to fall deeper and deeper in love with Alexis.
My husband would help me and share all the duties. I have very high expectations of people I love (it really sucks for them lol), so I expected my husband to be there for everything and do everything alongside with me. And be proud and strong and a leader.
He did everything I thought he would. He woke up at night, rocked her to sleep, took shifts, let her sleep on his chest, was the best breastfeeding cheerleader (this is something I AM SOOOO grateful for). He was a rockstar!
BUT, oh man, did he complain about the sleep deprivation. Hahaha! It makes me laugh because he still complains even when he gets 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep while I have to wake up hourly (on a bad night) to calm/feed the baby. He always says “It’s not a contest. You got less sleep than I did, but I still didn’t get perfect sleep, so I can complain”. No, damn it! You had it better than me, so you forfeit your right to complain for not having a boob so that you could share in the wake-ups lol
While I was planning on doing mostly attachment parenting, I wanted to stay away from bedsharing, because of the safety issue. I bought a co-sleeper and was planning on having Little Lexi next to my bed in a nice and cosy co-sleeper.
That was all turned upside down when Alexis WOULD NOT SLEEP the first 5 nights. On night 5 we tried to put her down on our bed (with all the safety precautions) and see if she’d do better. That’s when she gave us her FIRST two hour sleep stretch ( rather than 15-40 minutes). We were sold! Since that day, bed-sharing has worked great for us. We have tried a million other methods numerous times and the ONLY way we can get any sleep is when we sleep together. We are now dedicated bed-sharers and have completely given up on having a crib until she moves into her toddler bed.
BABY VS TODDLER
I hadn’t thought much about this part prior to pregnancy, but I always had the idea that babies are easy and once they become toddlers, you will never have peace.]
I cannot stress enough how untrue this was for us. Baby Alexis was easy but difficult at the same time, she didn’t behave the way babies are traditionally “expected” to behave, she was uncomfortable and unhappy about not being able to move and do things she wanted to do. Once toddlerhood arrived and she started walking, OH MY WHAT A CHANGE!
It has been the best thing that ever happened to her. She moves non-stop, doesn’t sit down, except to read books, but she is so happy doing it. She babbles, talks, squeals, hugs toys, kisses mama, runs around, gets excited and is just being the most adorable self. She does get frustrated when something doesn’t work out the way she wants, but that’s to be expected. Using sign language has really helped her communicate efficiently. So all-in-all toddlerhood is the SHIT, I am telling ya!
So this is all I can remember. It was really fun to write to see how different our ideas were from the reality in some cases.
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