I will preface this by saying that I read a lot of material on pregnancy and childbirth. I spoke with a lot of people. I asked a lot of questions. I felt as prepared as I could possibly have been. And yet, there were ten (at least!) things that baffled me.
1. How Hot I Felt
No, not sexy. Literally steaming hot. As in, I made my husband put an air conditioning window unit in our bedroom even though I had already dropped the central air temperature into the 50s. He slept in sweat pants, sweatshirts, and two blankets. I slept with a thin nightgown and no blanket.
2. The Awesome Amount of Hair
That kept clogging my shower. I actually apologized when I went for my first postpartum hair cut because so much of my hair was falling out that I felt she would think I had a weird disease that I wasn’t disclosing. It was awful, and lasted forever. I had read that this would happen, but I had no idea how awful it would actually be.
3. How Competitive I Really Am
In terms of breastfeeding. I despised nursing. I was in excruciating pain. I was screaming at the top of my lungs every time my daughter latched. I was bleeding, sore, and on top of it, I had a ridiculously low supply, no matter what I tried. One night it got so bad I tried to milk my husband at 3AM. It didn’t go so well, but I was that delirious that it wasn’t even a joke. Yet, I stuck with it, hating it the entire time, and made it to 9 months before I stopped. And I stopped because there was nothing left. I still can’t believe I put myself through all of that just because I didn’t want to be a “failure.”
4. That I Wouldn’t Worry About My Baby Sleeping
Simply because she never slept. She was up every hour and a half until she was five and a half months old. With one exception, where she slept 6 hours randomly and I woke up thinking I was going to have a heart attack because obviously something must be very wrong. Thankfully, it was just a miracle.
5. That “Sleeping When the Baby Sleeps” is Cruel Advice
I’ve never been the type of person who could fall asleep on whim. By the time I would even get close to falling asleep, she would be up and hungry. Even though I was incredibly exhausted, more exhausted than I had ever been in my entire life, I couldn’t sleep.
6. That My Husband Needed to Become a Breakfast Champion
It took me forever to realize that I should ask my husband to make me breakfast before he left for work. After being up all night nursing and not sleeping, I would often find that it would be eleven o’clock before I even thought about eating. And then, I wanted something quick to grab like a granola bar. Once I asked my husband to make me breakfast before he left (at the time it was Greek yogurt with honey, granola, walnuts, and strawberries or oatmeal), my life was altered in an amazing way. It was game changing.
7. Swaddling is No Joke
Velcro swaddles. Why didn’t you come into my life sooner?
I had the best skin of my life while I was pregnant. I had never had really bad skin, but I was always dealing with zits here and there. Five months after baby, bam. I was dealing with serious acne. And my daughter is now 16 months old, and it’s still absolutely awful. All over my face, my cheeks, my chin… I never had zits on my cheeks. It’s terrible, and I can’t seem to find anything to do about it as it’s all hormonal according to doctors.
9. How Embarrassed I Would Be When Someone Asks Me What I Do
My husband and I made the decision that I would stay at home with the baby. My job was truly stressing me out. I cared too much, and it was not healthy. Plus, daycare is expensive, and I wanted to be the person who spent time with my child, having many friends growing up who had better relationships with their nannies than with their own parents. But every time someone asks me, “What do you do?” I cringe. I want to explain my life story and have them understand that I am an educated person with a graduate degree who made a well-researched life choice. And then I get upset with myself for feeling this way. Although, to be fair, I felt this way when I was a teacher as well.
10. That My Life Would NOT Completely Change
Obviously a baby changes your life. I’m not denying that. But, we made a conscious effort to make sure that we still do the things that we love. We still travel. (My daughter has been on 16 10+ hour trips in the past 9 months.) We still run. We still go out to eat. We still hang out with friends. We are still the people we were before we had the baby, albeit maybe a better version.