why didn’t they tell me?

I’m probably going to be breaking a lot of Mommy Rules by posting this, but when your best friend is expecting a baby just a few months after you, you sort of feel obligated to tell her exactly what to expect.  I’m sure this is different from person to person, but there are definitely things I wish people would have told me to expect with my “new mom” status.  (And probably some things that should have been obvious but I was just too wrapped up in my pregnancy glow to think about.)

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Don’t waste your time on childbirth + pregnancy books.  I loved being pregnant + loved learning about all things pregnancy!  The first half of my pregnancy was spent learning about being pregnant – what I should and shouldn’t do, what I could and couldn’t eat.  The second half of my pregnancy was spent learning about how to have the birth I wanted.  The birth that will never go according to plan, no matter how bad you want it to.  I am kicking myself in the butt for spending so much time on things that (1) I already knew about (pregnancy) and (2) I had absolutely no control over.  Oh, if only I had spent some time reading up on actually being a parent and how to care for a newborn baby.  While I have some childcare experience, I don’t think I ever really changed a diaper until I changed MacKenna’s, and Lord knows I had no idea how to give her a bath.  I wish I would have spent more time reading about basic childcare and schedules, naptimes, etc. than on things that I could care less about right now!

Breastfeeding is hard.  Don’t let the Le Leche League women fool you.  Breastfeeding is no walk in the park.  It is REALLY hard.  Babies know how to reflexively suck, but that doesn’t mean they know how to latch.  Getting a baby to latch onto your boob takes a lot of work.  I feel really fortunate that I was in the hospital an extended period of time because I had the help of the nurses for 4 extra days than most moms get (believe me, that’s the only reason I feel lucky about it – that hospital bill SUCKED).  Every time I fed her in the hospital, they helped me get her to latch, which sometimes took 30 minutes (not kidding).  I wish I could have taken them home with me since we struggled once I took her home for the first few weeks.  It’s extremely frustrating, but after the 3 week mark, things got much, much better.  It gets easier, I promise!

You will live your life in 3 hour increments.  I think I was just naive about this.  Yes, I know babies need to be fed and I am their only source of nourishment.  But, for some reason, I thought it would be different than this.  Babies need to be few every 3 hours or so, give or take an hour or 2.  And just like contractions, the timing starts from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next.  So if your baby takes an hour to eat, you only have an hour or 2 before the next feeding.  It’s no wonder it’s so hard to get anything done!  Which brings me to…

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Being a mom is the hardest job in the world.  I have a whole new respect for stay-at-home moms.  You think staying at home with your baby means you have all the time in the world to get things done.  Ha!  The days I get anything crossed off my to-do list is a GREAT day!  But, most of the time, I get halfway through something during one of M’s naps and inevitably she will wake up screaming.  For no reason usually, just wanting to be held.  She needs constant care 24/7 (obviously) so many things are sacrificed – sleep, eating, exercising, personal hygiene.  If you are a stay-at-home mom, don’t let anyone tell you your job is easy.  But…

Being a mom is the BEST job in the world.  There are good days + bad days, but every day is wonderful when I get to spend time snuggling with my little peanut!  I have a little less that 3 weeks before I head back to work and I’m going to miss my Mommy full-time job.  But, I’m glad it is a job I’ll always have, even if it pays in kisses + smiles.

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The best piece of advice I received during my pregnancy was that being a parent is hard (and no one can really tell you how hard it is, you just have to experience it for yourself).  There are days where you will feel completely helpless and clueless to what your baby wants and needs.  But, just remember that everyone survives.  My parents survived, your parents’ survived, our grandparents’ all survived.  And when you have a night where you are up all night with an inconsolable baby, just think about how wonderful it is that there is someone that needs you that much.

I am not an expert, just a new mom figuring things out for myself.  But, I promise, as hard as it seems, just know that it does get better.

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If you’re a mom, what do you wish people would have told you before you had kids? 

If you’re a soon-to-be parent, is there anything else you want to know about newborns + parenting?  I’m pretty much an open book and would be happy to share my experiences.  Like I said, I’m not an expert, but more than happy to help!

  • This is a great post and one that I have been in the process of writing for a while! What I tell all of my friends (and no one has enjoyed hearing to date—–but something I wish I knew) is that you can shake after you give birth. this is due to your body beginning to go in shock. maybe it is because of an epidural, maybe because of blood and fluid loss. but majority of women shake like they are seizing right after they give birth. my mom was in the room with us and i just looked at her in a panic and she told me that this happens and it happened to her. i was terrified though and thought something was wrong. even being a nurse, i never learned this in OB class. so anyway, it is not a pleasant thing to hear but i really wish someone had told me! sorry for the rant!

    • Kristen

      I don’t remember if I did that or not! I think I was just really wanting to get off the freaking table and go see my baby! I was probably drugged up a little bit longer since I had a C-section. But, yeah, there are so many L+D related things that just get completely passed over!

  • Breastfeeding can hurt! My son latched great from the beginning (very thankful!) but it still hurt… for 8 LONG weeks! With my daughter it only hurt for 4 weeks! I was excited!
    Kristen~ I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding Garrett. I was glad we could and didn’t have any problems but I didn’t love doing it. The eating so frequently and so long sort of got old. I was really worried that I would feel the same with Avery but I am enjoying breastfeeding a lot more this time. Maybe it’s because I have a crazy toddler running around and I can enjoy those moments with her a little more and just relax instead of feeling like I should be doing 20 different things. ; ) The second time is a lot easier all around!

    • Kristen

      I think I’ve been really fortunate with breastfeeding and I sometimes forget that not everyone has had a great experience like I have. My aunt called me while I was still in the hospital – she breastfed all 3 of her kids until they were ~2 years old. She told me that it gets much better after 6 weeks, that I just needed to give it time and it would be better. I honestly didn’t need 6 weeks as we got the hang of it after 4. I didn’t particularly like it at first because it was just so frustrating and would take so long. But, now I’m really enjoying it!

  • I’m a mom of two girls (ages 6 and 9), and I want to tell you that you’ve done a great job of articulating what motherhood is really like! I agree with all your points, especially the part about nursing. All the books and lactation consultants tell you that nursing won’t hurt unless you’re doing it wrong, but in my experience, it always hurts in the beginning. I wish someone had told me that.

    • Kristen

      I had heard it was going to hurt, but I just didn’t expect it to be so freaking hard! There’s definitely a learning curve to it! And it’s amazing how different everyone’s experience with it can be.

  • I couldn’t have said it better!! When I was 35 weeks pregnant, I almost had a panic attack one day b/c I realized “holy crap, I could go into labor and all I’ve been doing is reading about being pregnant.” I hadn’t read much about the first few weeks (other than BF’ing) and felt that I was totally unprepared!
    And, BF’ing was beyond painful. Like I said, that was the one area I had read a good amount about – and was still unprepared for the pain of when my milk came in and the first few days. I was bleeding and was dreading each time I would bf my son. It was such a hard time for me b/c I already felt like a terrible mom for having second doubts about BF’ing. Thankfully, the nurses and my sister were great and helped me out! I am still happily BF’ing my 11 month old son – and sadly knowing that the end is approaching =(
    Beautiful post!!! Looking forward to reading the comments of other mommies!!
    Michele @ nycrunningmama recently posted..Staten Island Trail Festival 25k

    • Kristen

      I remember also dreading having to nurse her. Now it’s my favorite time of day because I can sit down and catch up on work, reading blogs, etc.!

  • Before I had kids, I don’t think I realized how much I would miss being able to go out for late night walks with my husband and dog.
    As much as I love my babes, and coudn’t imagine my life without them now…I do miss our life before kids. Being a parent is a full time job and it is hard and I sometimes miss the carefree days where I was just responsible for keeping myself alive and didn’t have to think or plan for someone else.
    I can’t believe I used to think I was so busy…
    Breastfeeding is hard…and same for me…it took about 3 weeks to get good at it again with my 2nd (my first was super breastfeeding baby, so I was kind of shocked when it didn’t go as well with the 2nd).
    For me, adjusting to life with 2 has actually been easier than just going from no baby to one. I don’t like being new at things…so it was hard with the first…I felt so unsure of myself and was stressed out a lot more…now I am an ‘expert’ 🙂 haha…but really, I am so much more laid back and have become good at doing lots of things with 2 that I had a hard time doing with just 1.
    I hate grocery shopping…but one thing I wish I would have known/done…appreciate being able to go grocery shopping alone while I still could….because now I do it with an active 3yr old, a crying baby in a heavy car seat and sloshy, disgusting dirty snow in the parking lot, so I can barely push the cart through it! haha.

    It is tough sometimes…but I LOVE my life as a stay at home mommy, grocery trips and all!
    Jill recently posted..Snow!

    • Kristen

      I do miss the freedom we used to have, especially when it comes to working out! And grocery trips are much easier without her! I’m still trying to figure out if I should put her in the car and then put the groceries in the trunk, or the other way around, and then what I should do when I get home – bring her in first + then the groceries?! So many logistics!

  • Being 16 (almost 17!) weeks pregnant myself, I love reading posts like this so I know more of what to expect once I have my little one! Thanks!
    Megan recently posted..Sixteen Weeks.

    • Kristen

      AH! Good luck to you! Enjoy your pregnancy! I think it was the best 10 months of my life! 🙂

  • Hahahaha ohhh I’m obviously reading this without kids… makes me think if I ever want to go through with it 😉 But your mackenna is beautiful and if you keep posting those pictures on INstagram I may forget everything you said about breastfeeding and lack of sleep. So precious!
    Abby recently posted..Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

    • Kristen

      I promise, it’s definitely worth it in the long run! I mean, really, how can you not love a face like that?! 😉

  • Jen

    I whole-heartedly agree with all of this! I have yet to get anything done in the 3 weeks since I’ve had Wyatt. I need to feed him every two hours- which includes feeding and then holding him vertically for 30min so he doesn’t puke. I really can’t wait until he can eat less often!
    One thing I’d add is that every baby is soooooo different so throw all expectations out the window. People think I have it easy b/c he never cries, but he’s constantly choking b/c of his reflux. This means when he sleeps, Jeff or I can’t b/c we have to watch him to make sure he’s OK. Definitely the hardest job in the world- but also the best like you said 🙂
    Jen recently posted..My biggest postpartum confession

    • Kristen

      OMG, I can’t even imagine! I hope Wyatt gets better!

  • Oh gosh, I couldn’t agree with this more! Just the other day I was thinking that I wasted so much time on childbirth and pregnancy books; I should’ve read all about newborn care and tips and tricks! Being a mom really is hard work. My little guy is going on 7 weeks and I’m pooped, every day.
    Mandy recently posted..Love

    • Kristen

      LOL, I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets pooped on! Her new thing is to poop in the bathtub. Yeah, that’s not fun…

  • I would say that the hardest part of being a new mom for me has been getting a schedule down. Both my husband and myself thrive on a schedule so why would my daughter be any different?? Made all the difference in the world!

    Also, BFing has probably been one of the easiest parts of motherhood for me. Lyric is 12 weeks old and it’s been a walk in the park. I give her all the credit, she’s an AMAZING eater! Right from the beginning too – I doubt I’ll get this lucky w/my next baby do I’m going to cherish it while I can.

    And yeah, I read ALL about pregnancy & delivery but nothing about babies. What an idiot I was!
    Jessie @ Graze With Me recently posted..20-Minute Workout That Will Kick Your Butt

    • Kristen

      Having a schedule has been amazing! It’s made my life sooooo much easier! My husband doesn’t thrive on a schedule, but I do! I’m already scheduling out everything for when I go back to work! Ha!

  • I work with kids, have nieces/nephews and still had a lot to learn. I wish I would have been told how hard it can be to nurse twins even if they are 38 wkrs. And the second time around, I wish I would have know that prodromal labor can be a talked down, slo-mo version of active labor, how long it can go on and how it can be just as painful. I would have gone to a c-section sooner…also it would help so much just to know how awesome our little ones are going to be before they get there…cause they are definitely worth it!
    Andrea recently posted..Barefoot Running Revisited (Part 2)

    • Kristen

      So true! It’s funny how you can work with kids but still not know how hard it is. I worked at a preschool for a month and still didn’t realize parenting would be so hard!

  • Julie

    Loving this post! Thanks for all the info and I am definately feeling the urge to get all the knowledge I can for after baby arrives. The nesting is in full swing, and not having time to get everything ready because of work is hard… but I am so excited for her to get here! Your pic of you and MacKenna in front of the Christmas tree is so cute! She is a sweetie, can’t wait to see her again!

    • Kristen

      I can’t WAIT for Molly to get here! I just wish I could come visit you to see her! 🙁 And don’t worry if you don’t have everything ready – she won’t know a difference! (But, believe me, I felt the same way!)

  • Jen

    Great Post! I was just crying last night because breastfeeding is so HARD! My daughter is 3 weeks old and it’s going ok. The pain is a lot less but it just takes SO LONG! My husband is totally supportive but he asked me last night if I was enjoying breastfeeding. Honestly, no. Not yet. Maybe I will in the future but it HURT alot the first 2 weeks. So I didn’t enjoy it at all then. Now it doesn’t hurt as much but it’s so draining! I’m so glad to hear you and your readers have the same thoughts. I think the LLL is doing women a disservice in a way because they make it out to be unicorns and rainbows but it’s really freaking HARD work! And it hurts! I think they should be alittle more honest in their literature. Thanks for your honesty!

    Also – I think you should warn new moms about their first poop! 🙂 Maybe TMI but that first poop (ours – not the baby’s) is kinda scary. 🙂

    • Kristen

      I remember feeling the same way – thinking I wouldn’t be disappointed if the pediatrician told me I had to supplement. But, at this point, I’m so happy that she’s doing so well! Hang in there – my aunt called while I was still in the hospital and said to give it 6 weeks. After 4 weeks, it was a breeze. I hope it gets better for you soon!

  • I’m blessed with a pretty easy baby, so I’m loving that part, BUT I had no idea that recovery would take so long. I thought by 6 weeks i would feel normal. Not the case! I’m feeling good now though… 3 months in 🙂
    Brittany (a healthy slice of life) recently posted..Life with a 3 Month Old

    • Kristen

      M is a really good baby too – I feel really blessed! Doesn’t mean it’s not hard, but she definitely helps with being so easy going. I’m glad you’re starting to feel normal again. I have actually heard that it takes longer to recover from a vaginal birth than a C-section, because I have felt great for about a month now!

  • Abby Eich (Boehmer)

    Kristen, this post was great! It had it all: advice, humor, and love. And i liked this pics! congrats!

    • Kristen

      Thanks Abby!

  • Kristen’s Mom

    I seriously thought I told you a lot about breastfeeding and newborn babies — how much work it was, but how absolutely wonderful it was! My breastfeeding experience was not good with your brother or you, but if I was having another baby, I’d give it a try again! There is something about that closeness that is so special. I didn’t enjoy it at all, but was sad both times when I quit. (although both of you were MUCH better babies on formula!) I don’t think anyone can tell you how much you can love that baby immediately from the very beginning, and I don’t think anyone can tell you how very hard and time consuming it is! You have to experience it yourself, and basically, parenthood is on the job training — even if the books say it, you still don’t “get it” until you do it. Definitely the BEST job you’ll ever have! Ooops, I take that back: being MacKenna’s grandma (Gigi) is the best — all the fun and none of the work! 😉

  • Love this post! I had a very different pregnancy and pretty much threw all the books out window, arriving at the hospital with a birth plan of “get a healthy baby out”. Keep all these new mom tips coming since I am only a few weeks behind you. I need all the help I can get!
    susan recently posted..The "lost 24" hours….part 1

    • Kristen

      Yeah, I think that’s going to be my plan next time. Having an epidural definitely wasn’t the end of the world, and since I had a C-section, I don’t really care if I have to have another…

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