7 ways motherhood shocked the hell out of me

Guest post by NatureGirl
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Full disclosure: I have been a mother for nearly six weeks now. I didn’t think it’d be easy, but when my pregnancy went extremely smoothly I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, my baby would be easy and being a Mom wouldn’t be too hard. Lo and behold, there are definitely a few things that shocked the hell out of me in both regards.

Birth is painful.
I’m not talking about giving birth, I’m talking about after. What I didn’t realize was that there are lasting physical effects of giving birth. Aside from the lochia, I also dealt with vaginal pain, stinging, dizziness, ripped stitches, constipation, and weakness. Fun!

Breastfeeding is HARD.
I come from super crunchy granola roots. Breastfeeding was a given! As my mom said to my son, “We just don’t let our babies have breastfeeding problems.” First it was the latch, then it was overactive letdown, meaning my milk was basically choking him. This results in lots of arching, pulling away from my breast, crying, screaming, biting of the nipple, and did I mention the crying and screaming? Not the lovely mother-baby bonding experience I imagined.

The lack of sleep isn’t that bad.
Or at least, it’s not the worst part. It gets easier, especially after the first two weeks.

Just because you happen to be an easy going, calm person doesn’t mean that your baby will be.
I didn’t assume this would be the case, but I really hoped it would be. Boy, was I wrong! We quickly discovered our baby was a screamer, and will cry for apparently no reason at any hour for any length of time. I don’t know if he officially has colic, but it is officially frustrating.

A lot of what I thought I would never do goes out the window when sleep deprivation hits.
At 4 am, when the baby is crying for fifth time tonight, and has woken up each time I put him down in the co-sleeper, and then he happens to fall asleep nicely on my chest, or right next to me, all of that talk about not having him sleep in our bed is silenced by the overriding voice screaming that I Just. Need. To. Sleep. However it happens.

The way I understood feminism was wrong.
Now, that is a broad statement. But it occurred to me the other day, while discussing birth control options with my husband, that parenthood is one area of life where most of what I thought I knew was wrong. Until recently, I could go about my life thinking that my husband’s and my roles were equally important, and balanced. We both work, and share cooking and dishes, and he does the laundry but I do the grocery shopping, blah blah blah. And then I realized that in my heterosexual relationship, nothing is more unbalanced than having a child.

I carried the child for nine months, gave birth in a 60+ hour labor, am tied to the child like glue due to breastfeeding, gave up chocolate and onions and garlic and coffee in case that’s what causing him gas, etc. And then once I’m finally starting to feel human, I will take on the responsibility of preventing this from happening again. Since I’m breastfeeding, most of the options either involve impeccable timing (ha! That sounds like a great idea!) or implanting something in a place that really doesn’t want to be bothered right now.

Having a supportive partner is awesome!
My husband wakes up with ridiculous enthusiasm for middle-of-the-night diaper changes. He tells our baby funny stories, and sings him Radiohead songs, and volunteers to help calm our baby any time of night or day. He doesn’t say anything when I roll my eyes when our baby starts screaming AGAIN. We talk about how hard it is, but how lucky we are. And having all of that makes it feel so much more manageable.

I hear that it gets better, and I’m sure that it does. Our baby has started smiling, and cooing from time to time. And when I look at our baby, I can’t help but think how crazy wonderful this whole thing is.

Comments on 7 ways motherhood shocked the hell out of me

  1. I have 5 kiddos 15 to 7…try to enoy the little moments and the frustrations…on my kids birthdays i sit with them and tell them the story of their birth sweet funny things about them and even some of my frustrations…they love hearing about the journey that we have taken together things that r just heirs and mine.

  2. Your baby is crying because he doesn’t like Radiohead! Lol Seriously, my daughter is 25 and she still doesn’t sleep through the night but her brother started to when he was 6 weeks. They are all so different.

  3. Loved this post. I was also completely caught off guard by almost all of this. Thankfully, my mom was able to take off some time from work to help me deal with the shock.

    Just an FYI–There are many more prevention of baby options than just timing and implants. Talk to your doctor, but I found that using a diaphragm was an excellent option for me while I was nursing. It’s more hassle than a pill and can interrupt the “flow” of things, but overall I liked it.

  4. I have a 10 week old son, and I went through some post-traumatic stress from the birth: I pushed for 4.5 hours, he had to be vaccuum assisted, I suffered a 3rd degree tear and multiple lacerations in my cervix close to a major artery. Needless to say, my low-risk pregnancy quickly ended in a couple of blood transfusions after labor.

    But the hardest part is breastfeeding. Not only the 24/7, nipple soreness, oversupply, overactive letdown – but also the physical element of having giant breasts (only sidelying tends to work with us). Normally I’m a 32C, now I’m a 32F – and I’m a petite skinny girl and having larger hips – I still can’t fit into my clothes because either A) my boobs are too big or B) my hips are too big or C) wearing dresses is a no-go. It’s also hard to find supportive nursing bras. So I’m still wearing elasticy clothes (I’m a SAHM). This makes me frustrated because I still don’t feel myself yet.

    I think i’m suffering from vasophasms, which makes it really uncomfortable when he nurses and I want to stop soon so I can have at least a year of feeling myself before we try for another. Oh, and vaginal dryness from breastfeeding FUN.

    The SIDS thing – OMG I freaked out for weeks, and still do.

    This all being said, the crying has subsided, he now laughs and smiles freely and his feedings are a little longer – if only he can sleep in longer intervals at night so i’m not so exhausted – this thing called motherhood is pretty great.

    Now if people can back off on the “breastfeed OR YOU WILL BE SHAMED”.

  5. I feel for ya sweetie, I really do! Try thinking of it all as an adventure where you get to have tons of Joy – more than mere fun- and you get to grow up at the same time. Parenting is a Rite of Passage that begins with the birth of our first child. You are aware, so be grateful and just set aside any pre-conceived notions and Love it all! The misery as well as the sighs of relief.
    I have survived 3 teenagers and all I can say is you aint seen nothing yet!! Check out ‘Attachment Parenting’. One day you will look back and say, what happened? Where did my babies go? Trust me, you will.

  6. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations on your new baby, I hope things get better soon.

    I just wanted to say regarding contraception, I am currently on the contraceptive injection, which has been such a blessing for me because my memory is too bad to rely on timing or taking something everyday! I checked if I would be able to continue with it in the future when I have a child and want to breastfeed. I found Family planning experts and a host of organizations, including the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, consider the birth control shot to be compatible with breastfeeding. So that might be an option for you.

    • Hey all! We’re actually running a question post about contraception and birth control on August 15th.. so please contribute all of this info there! It will be much appreciated! 🙂

      PS: I don’t mean that you need to remove it from this post, just asking that you reiterate what you’ve said here ON the future post. Thanks!

  7. I forgot to mention, my son has been rolling over since he was 3m old. then at 4m he learned to roll completely over and has been rolling over the whole house ever since. THAT surprised me. My daughter didn’t do this til 6m. He now worm crawls & low crawls at almost 5m old. He’s also wanting to sit up and does the tripod thing. He’s so active that I don’t know what to do most days. If he’s not constantly stimulated, he’s fussy. He figures out toys so fast and is over them. Never liked a swing and Loves his eurgo carrier. So the only way to soothe him sometimes is to go for walks. Once we do he’s pretty calm.
    Does anyone else’s child do or have done this?! I heard boys are more active then girls but I think this threw me through a loop and so it stresses me out so much some days.
    We have started him on food at 4.5m because of his hourly eating some days and I have started pumping but since he doesn’t take a bottle we are going to try a sippy cup. He tries to grab our food or cups, did I say how egar he is?! LOL.. He’s still the love of my life!

  8. What an honest post! I could have written this, and sometimes still could. My son is 17 months old and though I love him to pieces, my expectations of me as a mother were not really that close to the reality. Being a parent is HARD and I don’t think enough people are honest about that. Of course, it is also pretty wonderful and amazing and rewarding, but those things don’t negate the fact that it is really difficult at times too.
    I remember my Mum telling me, when she came to visit when my son was 3 weeks old, not to wish the time away, and that things would get better. At the time I felt like throwing stuffed toys in her face, (just as I did when she said the same thing during a terrible sleep regression we experienced at 9 months), but once the insanity of those first few months had died down, I finally understood. Now I try to take each day as it comes and enjoy discovering my toddler discovering the world instead of being impatient for him to say more than 6 words and stop taunting our dog and cat and throwing things on the floor etc.
    It is a journey, a fabulous, crazy journey, and, to quote my Mum, it does get better. Enjoy the ride, and remember that expectations are there to be broken.

  9. I have an overactive let down and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that this is why your baby is gassy. And you can fix it.
    Because it comes out so forcefully he’ll be swallowing air with it, hense the choking at the crying for hours on end. Wind hurts!
    When you feed him latch him on, when your let down occurs unlatch him and pump (I used my hand and a muslin) until the milk slows then re latch him. The difference in his sucking and his mood will be apparent with in 72 hours (or in our case, 12).

  10. Holy Moly!
    I am kind of icy and unmoved, but this actually made me cry. My husband and I are trying to conceive. I am sick to fucking death of all of the earth mother wonder that I hear a lot about. I am afraid and I want to know that my fears are founded.
    I also love the last part about the best partner and it’s great.
    Thank you!
    Also, I second (third, fifth?) the amazingness of this photo.

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