Three years ago when I discovered I was pregnant with my daughter everyone around me was so excited for me. Everyone talked about the “beauty” of motherhood. Person after person told me that I would look at my daughter for the first time and fall instantly in love! These people went on and on about the bonding and the love I would have for my baby. The beauty of breast feeding and the joy of raising a child. My head was full of soothing lovely ideas of motherhood. That all changed when I finally delivered my 8 pound 8 oz baby girl ten days after her due date and after two days in labor. Looking back her birth was the definition of my daughter, she came exactly when she wanted to because that is who she is!
I love my daughter dearly, she is the most important person in my life, but I am here to tell you that parenthood is not all baby giggles and butterflies. If you know this ahead of time you wont feel bad about yourself, like I had. Here are a few things that people neglected to tell me about being a mother.
1. Pregnancy is not beautiful! : So many people told me that pregnancy was the most beautiful time in a woman’s life! LIES! Who ever told me that they loved being pregnant is a total masochist! Yeah the excitement of having a baby and the attention everyone gives you is nice, but the actual pregnancy sucks! The first trimester I spent my days gagging at every smell. I could smell someones body odor, bad breath, and food across a room. I started to hate people, they all disgusted me! Going outside in the city was torture, every fast food restaurant’s smell made my stomach do somersaults. Then that went away and was replaced by debilitating leg cramps that attacked me in the middle of the night. One minute I am fast asleep the next I am jumping out of bed in horrible pain! Pacing the room praying that my calf muscle will not implode with all the force the cramp is causing! Then I got to the third trimester, huge and uncomfortable. The baby does somersaults and I wondered if she was going to kick her way out! I sleep with a million pillows and nothing is comfortable! Everything gave me heartburn. I was ten days late from my due date and I was about to give myself a Cesarean section at home. Yeah Pregnancy was not beautiful it was horrid!
2. Maternal love is not so instant for some: You spend 9+ months being pregnant and dreaming about holding your baby. You imagine what your baby will look like and smell like. When you start to feel the kicks and movements it becomes even more real. I went through labor for two days in the hospital and you would think I would fall instantly in love with her. I didn’t! I was so exhausted and relived to finally be done with so much pain. They handed her to me crying. I was waiting for the heavenly sound of angels to surround us, but that never happened. All I heard was the mind numbing newborn cry that I wanted to make stop! It was just too surreal for me to even understand at the moment. I knew this was my child, she had just come out of me for gosh sake, but none of it felt real! I went through the motions of being a mom, feeding her, holding her, changing her, but I felt disconnected. The day we left the hospital the Doctor had asked if she had gone pee since birth. We knew that she pooped alot but we never saw just pee. My husband and I didnt know if she had. The doctor said it was most likely fine and sent us home. The whole car ride I worried if she had peed. What if we were going home and something was wrong with her! I wanted to take her out of her car seat and make sure she was OK but we were driving. I felt helpless. When we got home I took off her diaper to check and see, just then she peed on me! I was so happy! It was at that moment that I felt like a mother, covered in my daughters urine and crying because I knew she was healthy!
As a side note there are times I don’t like my daughter very much. Yeah I love her and I always will, but when she is throwing a fit in a store because she did not get a balloon, yeah I don’t like her very much then!
3. Breast feeding does not always come naturally : When Nasreen was first born and I first started breast feeding it hurt so bad! Nasreen was a big hungry baby and sucked the breast hard! Her latch was great but it was the strength of her sucking! I bore the pain as she sucked me dry. So for those that dont know, your first milk is called colostrum, which is a substance great for the newborn but there is not much of it. Within a couple of days the ” milk comes in”. Well Nasreen being the big baby she was sucked me dry. The first day I was home from the hospital Nasreen would cry and cry wanting milk but mine had not come in yet! I was so frantic. I called the nurse and they said “its ok shes not hungry, your milk will come in soon. You dont give her a bottle”. I’m sorry that was BS! She was hungry. I called me mom crying and she brought some ready made formula. Nasreen gulped it down and passed out, happy to have been fed. Luckily my milk came in the next day and I did not have to formula feed again. I loved bonding with my daughter over breast feeding! The pain did stop and it became wonderful. She would look at me so full of love while eating. In my opinion Breast feeding is worth working for.
4. Motherhood is lonely: Nasreen was born in December so for the first few months I was at home with my daughter because it was so cold. Breast feeding and changing her around the clock. I was one of the first of my friends to have kids, so while I was home they were still living the ” exciting” lives of people without kids. I saw pictures of trips and cruises. New cars and big celebrations. I felt lonely and isolated at home. I breastfed exclusively and was not good at pumping which meant that no one could feed her but me. Which meant I could not spend more then an hour away from her. This was hard when I wanted to go shopping or do anything alone. I love being a mother but I was not prepared for the isolation that comes with it. An infant crying can make you feel very alone in this world.
5. Sleep deprivation: To all those childless people out there I am so jealous of your sleep. Most new parents are walking zombies. So if you dont have kids imagine this. You just gave birth! You are in horrible pain from your mutilated vagina or your huge battle wound across you stomach if you had a C-section! Now you have a screaming infant that needs to be fed every two hours. When they are not eating they are pooping, often all the way up their back. So its a constant process of feeding, changing, washing, feeding, changing, washing! They have no concept of time so this goes on around the clock. Unlucky for you they often like to sleep during the day… So they are up at night. If you have other kids, or god forbid twins, or a needy husband you will probably go crazy!. I swear new moms look like soldiers on a battle field, with PTSD! Instead of a gun they have milk firing breasts ready to shoot out milk at the slightest sound of a baby crying! If you know a new mom, the very best thing you can do is take the baby for a little while and let her sleep!!!
6. The constant worry: The worry is the biggest thing that no one told me about. The constant fear and worry over this tinny little life! I would wake up from sleeping in a panic checking to make sure Nasreen was still breathing. It was a terrible fear that hurt my heart. When Nasreen was about a year old, a women I knew from my childhood had a similar aged daughter. I had never met the little girl but I had followed her life on Facebook. One day I received horrible news that the little girl had suddenly passed away in her crib. She was fifteen months old well passed the “danger age”. I can not even imagine what her mother went through. That sweet little girl’s death has changed me forever.I will never take for granted the life of my daughter. My daughter is now three but I still worry so much about her. I don’t check if she is breathing as much, but I worry about everything else. Am I too harsh, Am I teaching her enough. Do I give her enough of my time. I am always asking myself, am I doing the right thing. The reality is I will never know.
When I became a mother I did not know any of these things. No one told me about the struggles! They only told me about the magic of motherhood. So when I felt lonely or tired or frustrated I just felt alone.I felt like I was doing something wrong. Maybe people don’t talk about these things because they are afraid of looking bad, or maybe they don’t want to scare future parents.
I will always tell new moms the truth. Because Yes motherhood is beautiful but it is also dirty, lonely, frustrating, and crazy! Its all normal and it all OK!
My daughter is three now so I have a whole new set of worries. This includes education, discipline, social interactions,and so much more. I get more sleep now, but I have more to worry about. In some ways its easier for me to just have to feed and change her. The parenting gets hard when I have to decided how to raise her, what to teach her, how to keep her safe, and how to discipline her without stifling her strong personality. Parenting is the hardest job there is so its best to be honest so that we can all help each other .