I was getting worried last week because my 7 month-old baby, Kai, all of a sudden decided he didn’t like solids anymore. I literally had to sing and dance just to get him to eat a teensy bit. I thought perhaps his gums were sore because he looked like he was about to pop a tooth. But then I realized he probably had a sore throat because I got one on the weekend.. and his nose turned into a leaky faucet.. and so did mine. We’re not supposed to get sick in the summer time?! What gives? Hmmm it might have been those toys he mouthed at one of his classes.. I don’t think the City-run music class we attend sanitizes the rattles/ shakers/ tambourines after the babies get their hands on them. Or maybe it was the shopping cart handle he mouthed that one day I forgot to bring my shopping cart cover. This is the second cold my kids have had this summer. It’s unbelievable how many times my husband and I been sick since having kids.
I wish before I had kids someone had sat me down and told me what it was really like. Instead, I got the “you’ll have help from your parents, right?” and “good luck”! I guess no one wants to scare you silly when you’re pregnant. So here are my top 5 surprises for “what’ it’s really like”:
1. You might not have a life of your own for at least 6 months after your baby is born and you may not want to have one because you’ll want to go to bed at 8pm (if your baby will let you) hoping that all the short snippets of sleep you get might add up to the total number of hours you used to get. You might also have one of those babies who refuses to take a bottle so she might be attached to your hip for a lot longer than you had originally hoped for!
2. Your marriage may be tested more than you can imagine as mommy and daddy figure out their new roles in the family, a middle ground for how to raise the kiddies, who will be the softy and who will be the hard-ass, how often (if at all) to let your kids watch TV and what age to start, how often to give ice cream as a treat, etc, etc, etc.
3. Get ready for being sicker more often than ever before, especially if your child will go to day care or will frequent kid programs/ classes. When my daughter, Nahla, started day care last September she brought home nose colds and coughs, ear infections, stomach flu, I had strep throat twice, a virus in my eye, and my husband had ringing in his ear for months (from an ear infection). Don’t forget that when you are pregnant or breastfeeding, like your kiddies, you are extremely limited to what medications you can take! And you will need to “suck it up” because you now have not only yourself to take care of, but your kids as well (and your parents may not want to set foot in your house to help out because they might catch it too.. can’t blame ‘em really)!
4. You may get extremely sleep deprived depending on whether your baby likes to sleep or likes to eat (or have comfort) at night. This wasn’t a surprise to me (although I admit I was hoping for a baby that sleeps for 12 hours a night at 6 weeks of age). What was shocking to me was how fast you can get sleep deprived and how much it sucks (memory loss, body aches, walking into walls..). My advice: The obvious of course is to sleep when your baby sleeps during the day, which is not always possible. So I would also advise to Have a very very very low expectation of how much sleep you will get for the first 6 months.. and beyond. If you have a low expectation then you may be inclined to go with the flow a little more easily with a smile on your face (ha ha ha). And I say beyond because night wakings don’t stop after your child has so-called reached the milestone of “sleeping through the night”. There’s sicknesses, teething, nightmares (I haven’t experienced those yet thank god), or maybe just because your child wants your company at night!
5. Get ready for the justified and unjustified worries. You may find yourself worrying so much no matter how hard you try not to. Worry about whether you’re stimulating your baby enough so he’ll make the “really should be doing at this point” milestone. Worry about whether you sent your daughter to the right day care. Worry when your child’s fever won’t come down. You worry worry worry. Make sure you talk to other moms. It may really help to know you’re not the only one who worries.. and you may get some really good advice from someone in the same boat as you (once in awhile you may get a raised eyebrow and a “what is wrong with you?” look; try to ignore those people). Don’t be afraid of being judged, and above all, don’t forget about humor! Join some mommy meetup groups (especially if you’re on mat leave or a stay-at-home mom), and don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit it off with anyone at first. Keep trying. I met one of my good friends this way and just met another great group of moms.
What are/were your top surprises? How did you deal?