10 Things Nobody Tells You About Having a Baby

Parenting

10. Sitz sprays and enormous maxi pads will be your new best friends. My recovery hurt like a bitch. If you’ve been following along, I must sound like the dumbest woman on the planet. Despite skimming several books on babies and attending a birthing class, I wasn’t prepared for any of this. I expected labor and the pushing parts to be hard, of course, but I didn’t know the recovery for having a vaginal birth would be rough, too (I naively only thought C-section recovery was bad). My friend FoxyLady sent me an awesome care package full of Depends-ish diapers and I laughed at the size of them and doubted their usefulness. Little. Did. I. Know. LG was an ounce shy of 10 pounds, yet somehow I only had one stitch down there, so I didn’t expect anything fierce as far as recovery goes. Man, was I wrong. And I realized this as I was peeing and sitz-spraying, sitz-spraying and peeing for the first couple of months post-partum. I’ll add I never knew what a sitz spray was before this. And take note, first-time pregnant friends, they don’t sell hospital-grade pads at the grocery store. The ones the nurses gave me looked like they were big enough for Dumbo, but once you bleed through one in a couple of hours you realize why you needed it so big. Make sure you have one of those plastic spray bottles filled with lukewarm water by every toilet in your house. And wipes. Lots of wipes.

9. Your hair may fall out. I was blessed with a thick head of hair. Every time my stylist blow-dried my hair as a kid she would complain about how strenuous it was and how sore she would be the next day. Someone warned me about hair loss after pregnancy, but I didn’t expect it to last this long. I’ve even noticed a couple of bald spots near my temples where thick hair used to be. I pointed them out to my mom and she politely refused to acknowledge them, but I swear they’re there. A woman who cut my hair a couple of months ago suggested my extreme hair-shedding could be from wearing my hair up all the time. I haven’t done anything different with my hair since having the LG, so I don’t believe her diagnosis. All I know is I can’t shower without clogging the drain with a clump of hair the size of a small Scottish terrier. #Gross

8. 7 p.m. is the new 9 p.m. We are lucky. In a lot of ways. But one of them at the moment is LG sleeps through the night. It took roughly four months to get sleep back, but now that we have it, I really really really really appreciate it. He sleeps until 7-7:30 a.m. for the most part. We certainly have the rogue early-morning cries where he may have wet himself or pooped, but luckily they seem to be one-offs. MainMan and I often make big plans to sit through a whole movie once we’ve put LG down around 7 p.m. But it takes a miracle for us to be on the couch in the living room past 8-8:30. Usually 8:15 rolls around and one of us has suggested, “Should we move to the bedroom?” I’m always disappointed in my energy level that I can’t hack it until 9 o’clock. I guess we’re still making up for the first three months of not getting more than two hours of sleep in a row.

7. I asked MainMan to contribute to this post and his bulletpoint is: “Dads are virtually helpless for the first two months. All you can do is clean diapers and vacuum, vacuum and clean diapers, and maybe take the trash out. And half the time you’re too busy to notice I’ve done any of it.” I’ll add MainMan was way more helpful than this. He kept me company during many a sleepless night on the couch and he always told me I was doing great when I cried doubting my ability to mom. Time will tell, but I think we make a great team.

6. Babies are not only ravenous eaters, they’re mad spitter-uppers, too. I thought newborns did very little else besides sleep, poop and eat. But ours didn’t sleep that much. He didn’t poop that much. He ate a whole lot. He cried a whole lot. And he spit up even more. I knew we had many a sleepless night ahead of us when LG arrived, but I didn’t realize he’d be hungry every hour or so. I was bamboozled by his frequent, relentless cries in the beginning. We quickly realized after feeding him almost non-stop, to no break in the tears and kicking, that he had some form of colic or gastric reflux. I wrongfully assumed feeding a baby was the solve-all problem to his cries, but often it only exacerbated LG’s tummy issues. It was a vicious cycle in the beginning of feeding, crying, spitting up, hunger, crying, feeding, spitting up, hunger. Repeat. This took its toll on us. I was often bummed and confused, and I constantly questioned my breastfeeding, my diet and if I was subjecting him to torture by feeding him from the breast. I can’t tell you the number of times someone said to me, “Oh, he’s probably just in the middle of a growth spurt.” Growth spurt is mommy speak for inexplicable fussiness. He’s since grown out of it, but it was a rough first few months. We tried everything from gripe water to baby Zantac and Omeprazole, with the last being the most effective IMHO.

5. Your baby will not be born a bookworm. I am a huge fan of children’s books. So much so I wrote a picture book manuscript and still dream of having it (and others) published someday. Reading was a huge part of my childhood and I absolutely want my LG to meet and fall in love with Ferdinand, Charlotte and Wilbur, Peter Rabbit, Jack, Miss Rumphius, Corduroy, Sylvester, Sal and the Little Engine That Could. Part of what made my baby shower so special was that instead of cards, friends were encouraged to give us books. I have a lovely collection and brought a dozen into the living room to read instantly to LG, but it hasn’t been an easy sell. He flails around way too much for us to sit and make it through an entire book. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I assumed I’d be reading to him from the get go. Not so much. I look forward to the nights where I can read him a book before he goes to sleep. Right now it’s more about the bright photos and colors than the language and the lesson. And forget about “real books” with pages. I never thought about it until now, but they’re a paper cut hazard. He wants to feel and eat everything so for now we’re sticking to the board books.

4. So long warm coffee. So long home-cooked meals and treats. So long finished beverages. One of the things WizMom noted when she came to visit us in South Carolina at the end of September (LG was about six weeks old), was how many half-drank cups of liquids there were in the house. She quipped that she should have made a montage of all the cups. It was a perfect reflection of the craziness that was going on in our lives (being new parents and moving cross-country were quite the challenge for us). Now that we’ve settled, the amount of unfinished beverages has gone down slightly, but I still can’t manage to finish a mug of hot coffee with LG around. If I plan on drinking it hot I better make it about an hour before LG wakes up. I just told MainMan the other day that I miss cooking and baking. We had a fun kitchen in South Carolina and I enjoyed trying new recipes in it. Here we’re a bit cramped and I’m less motivated, but I hope to ease back into it. If it’s not frozen or prepared, it rarely makes it onto my plate. Lara Bars are my go-to for quick meals.

3. What was once deemed inappropriate attire to leave the house is now 100 percent appropriate (and 3 out of 4 times hideous, but I don’t care). I knew having a baby would take its toll on my body. I also knew it would probably be a while until I fit into my old clothes. What I didn’t expect was that now I don’t even want to wear my old clothes even if they do fit. I sent a few huge bags of my wardrobe to ThredUp. I guess my priorities have changed. Before LG I tried to look cute and put together. Now I just want my son to look cute and put together and I just want to make it out of the house with clean underwear and tweezed eyebrows. I sneeze now and I have to hold it in (that’s what I get for not doing my kegels like a good pregnant lady). Pregnant ladies, DO YOUR KEGELS. I have a ton of shoes I’m holding onto for at least a year, but I have a feeling they’ll be off to Goodwill or ThredUp in six months. I hit a mom-low a few weeks ago when I left the apartment to go for a walk in Merrells. Yes, that’s right. Merrells. Old lady mountain shoes. They’re almost worse than Crocks. I was wearing LG, Agnes was in her harness ready for her walk and I couldn’t bend over safely to put on sneakers so I slipped on these Merrells my mom passed onto me. They were initially intended for backyard use only in Carmel. Now I’m leaving the house to walk the sunny streets of San Diego in them.

2. You will suddenly have a heightened sense of parent radar. And you will check out every mom, dad, grandparent, family member with a stroller or carrier. I know it’s not as impressive as your friend’s gay-dar, but I never noticed a baby in my entire life unless it was in the row in front of me on an airplane. Now I notice them everywhere and I do a floor-to-ceiling assessment of everything they own and/or use. I analyze what products other parents are using for ideas and inspiration. I also smile and say hi to other parents like we’re old buddies. This is probably a bit weird and I should probably stop doing this. I guess I’m just excited to finally be a member of this awesome club.

1. Six weeks may be when your doctor says it’s OK to have sex again, but it may not be OK for you. We tried it at around six weeks. It was not fun. I screamed in pain. The end.

And one more. Your baby has a short memory, if he has one at all. One minute, your baby may be screaming and crying because you let a drop of shampoo fall into his eyes. Your husband shows up in the bathroom demanding you leave the premises to get your act together because you’re crying so hard you did this to him. YOU DID THIS TO HIM!!! You then doubt you are capable of handling this incredibly hard lifelong journey of parenting. The next minute your little one is smiling and giggling at the ridiculous song you made up while you change his dirty diaper. Suddenly you feel like the champion of all champions. Like you are the most amazingly funny and creative mom on the planet. Nobody told me about this. And I kind of dig it.

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