Things are different for everyone. Every baby is different. Every mama is different. And every papa is different. Everyone journey is unique, and special, and NOBODY should undermine your experience… your hopes… your parenting journey. NO ONE!
Leave the mom guilt and judgment elsewhere. Noooo time for that here.
When I was pregnant I was given a ton of advice. All of this advice was well intentioned and (for the most part) well received. Most of it at least. Sometimes I just said thank you… walked away and rolled my eyes! Kinda like people that said “you’re cloth diapering? That won’t last a month…” which I guess isn’t advice as it is assholes being judgy… I digress.
Back to it, some of the advice I received was the biggest blessing of our new parent life….and some… well… lets just say some was interesting. I think most first time moms can relate. But, then again I’m not you, so maybe your experience was different?
As I received advice I stored bits and pieces away as I prepared for motherhood. Some things you just can’t prepare for. And some, you can.
The irony of our journey is that almost all of the things I expected to happen… didn’t. And so many things crossed my mind that I brushed off or didn’t prepare for… have been our biggest challenges. Motherhood is ironic… it’s like rain on your wedding day.. a free ride that you’ve already paid.
What happened you ask? Let me tell you…
1. Expectation: Breastfeeding will be difficult.
So many of my dear girlfriends and fellow mamas struggled through excruciatingly painful and horrific experiences breastfeeding. My heart literally shatters every time I hear this. Tongue and lip tie, mastitis (multiple times), babe with severe dairy allergies, bleeding, cracked, raw, sore blistered nipples. Fighting their way through nipple shields, syringe feedings, boiling breast pump parts at 4am, and giving their baby a formula bottle for the first time in tears. SO many of my dearest friends (4 specific women come to mind and as I write this I pray for you and the beautiful mama you are to your sweet babes… just know… I’m on your team always) had the WORST experiences. Seriously the journey these women are on breaks my heart. Disclaimer– choosing (or needing to for X, Y, or Z reason) formula and bottle feed your baby is your journey and there is ZERO place for judgment here. Or anywhere for that matter. FEED YOUR BABY MAMA! AND ASSHOLES QUIT JUDGING!
My journey on the the other hand? I desperately wanted to BF and was terrified that it wouldn’t work out. I was no fool to think that it would be easy as I prepared myself by reading articles, asking questions, and learning as much as I could beforehand to prepare myself for what would likely be a VERY challenging experience.
I was sooo well prepared for the struggle that BF would be and ready to grab the bull by the horns.
Reality: What actually happened? Maryn girl loves the boob. Her first few feedings she thrashed around a bit on the boob… and fell off her latch a few times. After that… she’s a boob girl. My nipples? Never had a sore, blister, or scab. We rocked at BF! NOT NORMAL. She nurses like a rockstar.
What I didn’t prepare for? Having Thrush, a low supply, and her HATING the bottle. I seriously didn’t even know what Thrush was before our lactation specialist told me I needed to call her pediatrician and get both of us on medication right away. I sobbed thinking I’ve harmed my baby because of pure ignorance. I could have started her treatment right away and saved both of us tons of frustration, tenderness, and tears. We both now have Thrush, and this SUCKS!
I also didn’t think a bottle would be hard for her. I was more worried about my boob! The bottle seemed like the easier of the two. I didn’t prepare for the frustration, thrashing, cold sweat, bright red faced sobbing baby (and husband) that I would need to soothe. I didn’t prepare for puking sessions and choking down milk. I did not prepare for the feeling of heartache knowing I have to go back to work in a few weeks (TOO SOON) and the angst we would all have over this. I didn’t prepare for her to love the boob and hate the bottle. Motherhood.
Breast struggle. Bottle struggle. It’s no less challenging whatever your journey is. ITS. FUCKING. HARD. I’m on your team!
2. Expectation: I’m a WOD queen, I’ll ROCK at pushing her out.
Reality: NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. NO. I SUCKED at birth. Absolutely SUCKED. Nurses, midwife, doula, husband, fellow CF mamas… encouraging words the whole pregnancy “you’re going to ROCK at labor because you’re fit and strong and you will push her out in no time.”
What I was prepared for? A few pushes… and BABY! (I’m. So. Stupid!)
Reality: What happened? 2 hours of frustration. 2 hours of pushing SO FUCKING HARD…. and such little progress each push. Granted, I started pushing from a station -2… so that wasn’t helpful… but IT WAS NOT EASY AND I WAS NOT PREPARED. I literally had NO idea how to push…. it did NOT come naturally. It was not the “workout like experience” everyone said I would be a champ at. Not. In. The. Slightest. 2 hours in my midwife said she would give me 3 more pushes before I ended up in the OR. 5 pushes later Maryn girl was here. NOT what I expected. It was HARD!!!!! SO SO SO SO SO HARD. And incredibly frustrating.
3. Expectation: Pregnancy is miserable.
Reality: I’ve already talked about this. I thought I would end up with gestational diabetes (I was SO convinced) and I didn’t. I thought I would be puking and swollen and miserable. I wasn’t. On and on. Pregnancy was the nice part. Newborns? Not. So. Much.
4. Expectation: Newborns are hard.
Reality: NEWBORNS ARE HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In all fairness nothing can prepare you. There is no such thing as “sleep now became you won’t be able to when baby is here”. Duhhh sleep doesn’t work like a savings account you cant stockpile that stuff and save it for a rainy day. I thought newborn would be hard. I knew I wouldn’t sleep. I just didn’t know THIS hard.
5. Expectation: NICU will be in the room, they’ll clear her… and give her to you for the golden hour.
Reality: 7 hours later I finally get to meet my baby. Best way to get that golden hour? Avoid the OR. I was LIVING for the golden hour and convinced if we didn’t do skin to skin right away I wouldn’t bond with my babe, breastfeed, or even feel like a mother. All of my focus was on staying out of the OR… never did I imagine NICU would be our journey. Never! So naive.. the medical staff did an amazing job preparing us for it. I was in my own world. I thought the only way I wouldn’t get golden hour was to avoid the OR. How naive. How ignorant. How dumb.
6. Expectation: PP hormones are a bitch and the aftermath in your undies is not pretty! PP depression is real and I will speak up if I need help.
Reality: HORMONES ARE THE DEVIL AND THE AFTERMATH IS WAY WORSE THAN I EXPECTED. I mean, still bleeding 4 weeks PP? Yes, it’s normal. Yes, I’ve already talked to my midwife. No, you don’t need to tell me I should have this figured out by now.
Hormones are WEIRD. I was not prepared for the mess this would be. Thank God for a girlfriend of mine that talks with me about my psychotic hormones and sends me the most beautiful encouraging inspiring articles to read that normalize all of this. My dear, your support is everything and I love you for doing this journey with me. PP depression is REAL. Praise Jesus for placenta encapsulation, a husband that allows me to sleep off my exhaustion (at least for an hour or two until the small one needs to be hooked up to the nip again), for fellow mamabesties, and for tequila. I love tequila, I love my best mama support group, and I love my baby…. even though this shit is hard. Don’t worry I don’t drink too much tequila… just relax I got this under control.
The weirdness of all of this is that it’s totally normal. Babies are unpredictable, your body is unpredictable, and life is… you guessed it… UNPREDICTABLE. Everyone says it…Nothing can really prepare you for parenthood. No advice, no article, no recommendation, tip, or trick can prepare you. The beauty is… if you’re a parent, you’ve been there. You get it.
It’s all so hard.
Giving advice to a pregnant woman to “sleep now” isn’t helpful. Telling first time parents that the sleepless nights are “worth it” isn’t helpful. Instead, order them Chinese food, drop off a case of beer and a pack of diapers on their doorstep, tell them you love them, and pray for them with ALL your might. There’s nothing a full belly, little beer, a clean diaper, and a whole lot of love can’t fix… (Thrush excluded.. were still looking for a fix for that 😉 )
Note: I don’t hate advice. Please don’t think that. I don’t have any of this figured out and sometimes the advice is SO helpful… so (although I’ve probably already tried it) if you have a way to get rid of Thrush… please send me a message! My baby has a yeasty mouth and lefty is starting to itch and hurt. Righty is still going strong so pray for her.. she needs it!
We love our tribe… and if you want to come over and hold the baby we are now accepting visitors! Prepare for crazy hormone mama to spray you with Lysol before entering, leave your small germ infested humans at home….and for the love of all things good and holy….Bring tequila…or a hug. We love you friends. Whole heart, big time, so good too much it hurts your soul DEEP love. We do.