I spent waaay too much time while pregnant reading about my growing baby, how to exercise, and what to eat when I really should have been preparing for taking care of a baby. Let me repeat: ladies pregnant with their first baby should spend less time worrying about their stretch marks and more time practicing what to do with a tiny baby.
I must admit that I was a bit shocked with how much work babies are. Sure, you feed them when they’re hungry, change their diapers when they’re dirty, and cuddle with a cooing baby when they need it. Reality sure is different.
Here are 5 things I wish I would have know before Helen came:
1) Some babies (READ: Helen) want to eat ALL the time. I read in pregnancy books and websites that most babies want to eat every 2-3 hours. “That’s a lot,” I thought, “but I guess that’s doable.” I didn’t realize that that was an estimate for formula fed babies. Helen wanted to eat for nearly an hour every 15 minutes. All. Day. Long. Oh yes. I felt like I was going to go crazy. Never a moment to myself. She’s finally spacing it out to about an hour. I can’t wait until she can go for 2 without napping.
2) Babies Cry. A LOT. “Sure,” I though, “babies will cry when they’re hungry or dirty. That’s easily fixed.” Little did I know that babies can cry for many more reasons: overstimulation, understimulation, being overly tired, wanting to be bounced, rocked, or walked, or crying for no apparent reason. And they can’t be rocked in a swing. Ooooh no. It has to be a living, breathing human being.
3) It can take longer to recover than you expect. During pregnancy I was looking forward to my period of recovery with dread. I knew I would be drained for a day or so and wasn’t supposed to do much for a week. That sounded like a long time to me. What with excessive blood loss and a bout of mastitis, I wasn’t feeling like myself for nearly 4 weeks. Four. Weeks. Now I hate bed rest even more.
4) Nursing moms need to watch what they eat. Not realizing that what I ate would affect my baby, I gobbled down two bowls of spicy tomato soup a week after delivery. Yikes. Helen was a basket case for a few days.
5) Newborns have erratic sleep patterns. They want to take many short naps during the day. Sometimes Helen will nap for 20 minutes, sometimes she’ll go as long as 2 hours. I still haven’t figured out a pattern (I should really keep a sleep diary). But she’s really good about sleeping at night. I’m VERY thankful for that. I usually get my 8 hours (wishing for more).
So there you have it.
Let me temper this with something happier. All of the crying, spitup and endless feedings are worth it when she smiles and tries to copy my words.
And when I read horrible stories about the atrocities of abortion, I clutch her tight and thank God that she’s safe in my arms.
To all you new moms: It get’s better. Slowly. Bit by bit. But in the meantime, it sure is frustrating.
To all you veteran moms: Thank you for all that you’ve gone through. You are way more amazing than I ever knew.