6 Things I wish I knew before having a baby

The excitement, fear, and anticipation of having a baby is all too real for any expecting parent. We read, google, research, and forum like nobody’s business to make sure we are well prepared for the day that little bundle is put in our arms. We also have to put up with belly rubs, unsolicited advice, and of course the usual “kiss your sleep goodbye” warnings from friends and family. When D-day rolled around, I thought I was pretty prepared for what was to come. But here are 6 things no one told me:

1) You might not have that “heart fall through the floor” love at first sight feeling, and that’s ok. When I was pregnant, sure it was cool seeing this little creature kicking around and growing in my belly. But, I definitely didn’t feel crazy in love or connected to it. I stressed I wouldn’t love my child, and felt guilty every time I saw someone post a sonogram of their baby saying how in love they were. I thought there was something wrong with me, and I definitely kept these feelings to myself for fear of being judged by others, meaning there were no words of reassurance or support. When the birth-day arrived I thought, well when I see him for the first time, that’s when I’ll feel all those amazing feelings I’m supposed to be feeling, right? Wrong, I ended up needing a cesarean, during which my blood pressure dropped so low I started to pass out. When baby was born, he was taken straight to the table to be sorted out while I lay immobile, half out of it, with my shoulders aching from fluid traveling up my body. When he was finally placed on my chest I couldn’t really see or hold him, and the nurses wouldn’t let him latch immediately which left him screaming. All in all, what I felt was an enormous amount of anxiety and frustration. Nothing at all like adorning love. So if you’re one of those expecting moms, not totally convinced by that alien in your stomach, don’t worry, you are not alone, and it will come. Every day, getting to know my little boy, I love him more and more, a love a have never known.

2) You can’t cut a newborns nails. Those suckers come out with little claws and tend to scratch their face to pieces. As a well-meaning new mom trying to save that perfect newborn face, I grabbed the baby clippers and gently tried to cut my baby’s nails. Big mistake. I managed to clip his skin and it even started to bleed a tiny bit. He didn’t cry or seem to notice, but I felt like the worst mom in the world. Turns out babies fingers are still melded to their nails, and it takes a few weeks before they separate. You would think this would be mentioned in at least one of those baby books I read, but nope, it was only when I asked the nurse about cutting babies’ nails that I found this out. doh.

3) Your baby will be just as happy and healthy on formula, as he would be on breastmilk. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but when it comes to feeding babies, the general consensus is breastmilk is the one and only, all omnipotent, Golden nectar (which it is, don’t get me wrong), and there is a lot of pressure for moms to breastfeed, and only breastfeed, their babies. It’s not like I didn’t want to breastfeed, it’s that I couldn’t. Not for lack of trying either. I tried everything to get my supply up, and after baby lost too much weight and developed jaundice, we had no choice but to start him on formula. I was devastated and hated my body for failing me. I was constantly reminded of my failure to nourish my child by every blog or page I was subscribed to. Even the formula tin rubbed it in my face with its big bold lettering “Breastmilk is best for babies”. I spent far too long hating my body and feeling like a failure. Meanwhile, my baby grew and thrived and is as happy and healthy as ever. I know it’s always easier said than done, but try not to sweat it, no matter what your reason is, because at the end of the day – fed is best.

4) Your relationship, partnership, marriage will change. This is something, not a single person, book, or blog I’ve read mentioned, and while I suppose it’s a given, nowhere does it warn you to put on your big girl pants, ‘cos sh#ts about to get real. When that cute little bundle comes along, everything changes and your expectations of what you need and want from your partner become a lot greater. Exhaustion coupled with baby taking up all your focus, it’s easy for resentment, bickering, and distance to creep in. We left it way too long before actually addressing the issues and confronting the problems. This is where outside help like a counselor or family coach can help put you back on track. Make sure you talk about your expectations before the baby is born, and realize that things will change, for the good and bad.

5) Having a baby can be one of the loneliest things you do. Lonely? But you’re with a baby all day? Yep, a baby who sleeps, poops eats, cry and unfortunately can’t hold a good conversation. Whether you are a working mom on leave, a stay-at-home mom, or something in between, those days spent at home alone with your baby, although wonderful, can become extremely lonely and isolating. Husband is at work, friends are working or busy and baby is too small to really go out for any extended period of time. The days become monotonous and you feel like you are slowly starting to lose your mind. If you can try to find a mom group in your area to join. I waited far too long to do this and it definitely saves your sanity!

6) You will fear everything, all the time, and it will never go away. This would have been nice if someone told me upfront. When that child of yours is born, so is a whole lot of worry. You’ll worry if they are hungry, tired, uncomfortable, hot, cold if they have reflux, will they suffocate on their baby grow, is that a rash, am I doing this right, must I apply for school yet, SIDS, mosquitoes, sunburn, why did he sleep through the night, why didn’t he sleep through the night, how long should he be sleeping, why isn’t he rolling, is his poop supposed to be that colour, solids – purée or baby-led weaning, vaccines, teething… Ok, you get the point. I wish I could say, just chill, it’s all good (even though it really is), but that will not make you not worry. All you can do is control the things you can, and try your best not to obsess over the things you can’t.

Have something to add? What do you wish you had known before your baby was born? Leave it in the comments below!

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