Everyone talks about how having kids will really change your life. What they don’t tell you is how. How will they change my life? Exactly. Not hypothetically. How is it going to turn my world upside down?
Well, as I’ve found out, they don’t tell you because it is really hard to articulate exactly what it’s like. Sure, you can say some superficial things, like:
- Spontaneity has no place with an infant.
- Poop and puke will no longer disturb you. It’s everywhere. All the time.
- Sleep may evade you. Get it while you can.
- Your arms will get nice and buff from lifting this god damn carseat everywhere.
- You will fight with your spouse, mostly due to hormones taking control of your life.
Yes, all true. But honestly, those tidbits don’t really give me any perspective on how to actually handle life with an infant. So, my friends, I am here to tell you the seven things I’ve learned in the first seven months of motherhood. Real, practical, you-need-to-know ahead of time things. Or maybe you’re too late and you’ve been there, done this, but still, read this. You’ll laugh.
1. Some babies sleep. Some don’t. Some sleep at night. Some sleep during the day. And some do a little of both. Don’t believe them when they tell you that newborns sleep all the time. Some don’t. And please, don’t make plans for your post-baby life that rely, or really hinge at all, on the fact that newborns nap. If they do, kudos. If they don’t, well, the whole work-while-they-nap thing goes straight out the window. And if someone ever says to you, “Aren’t the newborn days of sleepy scrunchy babies just the best?!”, kick them. And then ask them to babysit. In conjunction with this life-changing realization I had for myself when Joey was 6 weeks old, I also realized that my no-napping baby was a prime example of a baby that sleeps through the night. Take your wins where you can get them. Mine was nighttime. Yours might be afternoon naps. But seriously, sleep train and don’t make plans that rely at all on sleep. Period.
2. Hormones do take over. But they don’t have to. There is help out there. And honestly, I’m really going to say, out loud, this next part: there will be moments of utter and complete and enraging sadness. Moments when you ask your mom, “Did we make a mistake having a baby right now?” And then bawl so hard because you’re so hungry and your clothes still don’t fit. Literally. I had a total meltdown one afternoon because no one told me that I still wasn’t going to be able to wear my favorite clothes, not because they didn’t fit, but because BREASTFEEDING. Sorry, still no sundresses with sleeves or anything you can’t pop your boob out of in less than 5 seconds. Nevermind sleeping on your belly. Pregnant? Sorry, no belly sleeping. Boobs full of milk? Sorry, still can’t belly sleep. Ok, rant over. But really. Sadness is a thing and it’s ok. But don’t deal with it alone. Be honest with your spouse about how you’re feeling. Yes, they will think you are being ridiculous, but it doesn’t change how you’re feeling. See your doctor. Be honest with them. There are ways to cope. Most importantly, if someone asks how you’re feeling, don’t say, “Great!” Say, “Just ok. Hormones are no joke and I’m learning how to deal.” Most likely, it will open up a conversation that will lead to great things.
3. Good baby gear. Worth it. You can see my post on Joey’s favorite things here, but in short, get the good stuff if you can. I’m talking things like car seat, stroller, bouncer, carrier and swing. So worth it. They don’t break, they keep your baby in the perfect positions which makes them happier, and will most likely last until the next two or three babies grow out of them. Just sayin’. Speaking of good baby gear, let’s talk working out. I’m convinced that God’s greatest gift to women is baby wearing gear. Get one, really doesn’t matter which, and wear those babies while you do EVERYTHING. Including working out. Squats and tricep dips and rows and lunges and backpeddling. Get with it, wear that baby, and get your body back. Pronto. You’ll feel like a badass afterwards, and it’s really fun to tell your husband that you can do more squats than him, even with a baby strapped on you. Word.
4. What babies cost. Ok, I looked, and there really isn’t a good “baby budget” worksheet out there that I can find. If you find one, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be making one soon as a free download y’all can have. The world needs it. But anywho, what they cost. Plan ahead. The first few months, honestly, isn’t too bad. Mostly because you, and the baby, won’t be doing much other than trying to figure out how to breastfeed, sleep and shower. And I’m not exaggerating. But after that, when their diapers get a little bigger, their clothes a little longer and their appetites a lot larger, the cost goes up. Add in daycare, extraneous medical bills (that we are still getting from the hospital, 6 months later), and the fact that you want to literally buy everything that your baby will fit into, you’ve got yourself a little extra mullah going out. Just prepare, is all I’m saying. Oh, also, moms, those first few breastfeeding months, you’re going to be SO FREAKING HUNGRY. Your grocery bill might be a little out of control there for a bit. Just go with it. It stops.
5. Ok, now to some of the good stuff. The stage where they sit up but don’t crawl is the freaking best. I’m talking like right at six months, give or take depending on your baby (also, baby-accomplishment envy is a total thing. Sammy, I’m looking at you, you little scooting 7-month old). Sitting cross-legged on the floor and playing with literally anything (water bottle, report control, dad’s notebook) is the most invigorating and relaxing thing you’ll ever do. Pure joy, pure satisfaction, pure bliss. Floor. Baby. Blanket. Happy. The end.
6. Let’s talk dinner dates, plans with friends and the such. Ok, for the first few months, my suggestion is to take that baby to everything. Make plans. Go out. Visit friends. Have the steak dinner. They may or may not sleep through it. If they don’t, I promise there is someone that will help you. In our case, our favorite restaurant also happens to belong to a friend of ours, and she just walked around with Joey while we ate our food. Or if you’re at party, people love to hold babies. And feed them. And rock them. Let them. They make baby noise-cancelling head phones. Use them. Go to your church that is too loud. Go to Sunday brunch after. Honestly, you can still be so freaking social. Just make sure to have your diaper bag and maybe a pac-and-play in the back of the car. We’ve set that thing up in the most random places. Seriously though, go anywhere you want. In our experience, that whole “spontaneity is dead” thing didn’t exist. We just took Joey with us.
7. You are allowed to leave. As in, leave the baby with Dad or Grandma or Auntie. And go. Joey was four months old when I left for 3 days to go with friends to Napa. Him and Adam were GREAT. Before this adventure, Adam and I had a multitude of date nights, a say-cation or two and a day trip while Grammy and Papa took the reins. It’s healthy for you, and the baby, to have some time with other people. The baby will do so much better than you think they will, and so will you. Happy mom, happy baby. And visa versa.
So, seven in seven. Which, coincidentally, is what I’m drinking tonight. We’ve officially made it into the second half of Joey’s first year. It’s been the hardest, fastest, longest, most grueling and the most exciting year of my life. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s definitely not a sprint either. If you can stroll, smell the puke covered roses, and then skip and hop and then maybe run backwards a bit, but then remember that if you walk too fast, you’ll miss it. Your arms will be buff from lifting the car seat, sleep will have a new role in your life, and you and your spouse might spat (ok, probably but that’s the hormones talking, remember?).
I’m so excited to see where the next half of this year is going to take us. Honestly, you feel kind of under water for the first little bit. At least we did. But now, a measly few months down the line, we are swimming smoothly through the current. And by swimming, I mean playing in the dog hair on the floor while we marvel at Joey’s ability to roll over, yet again. It’s the best.