June 12, 2008

What no one tells the new Mom...

...or maybe they do and I just didn't listen. Maybe I didn't listen because I was too busy being arrogant and thinking how much better I would be at it. Maybe I just missed it because I was too caught up with picking out cute outfits and this or that toy or nursery paint swatch. Maybe I missed it because I didn't, or couldn't, know what to expect.

I once told a friend (as she was brandishing parental advice to me) that parenting must be like riding a bike - you can't tell someone how to do it. They just have to get on the bike and start peddling and hope they don't fall off. She laughed and said "you're right...it's true". But even then, I didn't know what I was saying.

Even more recently (ok, maybe today) I told a friend "People who are seasoned parents I think, tend to sugarcoat the whole baby picture - especially when their kids are no longer little babies. They say "ohhhh and awwww, and it's so wonderful". And it totally is in some moments - and then in others it's more realistically to the tune of "aaaackkk and ohhh crrraaaappp".

Here are some bullet points for you newbie moms out there from a "seasoned" mom of a whole 22 days. (cough) You don't have to take my word for it. You'll find out soon enough. And if you don't agree, that's ok too. Because, Lord knows how many Moms did try to shake some sense into me and I completely must have turned the sound on mute - because I was too friggin big for my britches to listen. So you can just take this with a grain of salt, toss it out, or print this bad boy and hang it next to your bed as your new mantra. Either way - you can later say "someone told me and I didn't listen" because I AM right when I said it's like riding a bike. Just my $.02 after all -
  • If you're not a morning person, take a note. You will be.
  • If you're a night owl, take another note - you won't be any more. This you'll find, is a state of being that, in the infant stages you have neither the time or the energy to be anymore. Staying up late and clearing off the DVR or TIVO is a luxury that us former night-owls of the world only dream about. As proof, I will admit that my addicted guilty pleasures Lost and Moonlight are more than several episodes behind. This would not have happened two months ago. Oh no. Sacrilege. Now I'm lucky if I make it to 8:00 with my eyes still quasi open. AB has never had to put me to bed so much in our entire eight years together. I can't even make it through a half hour episode of "The Office". For shame.
  • Nap time actually means "sanity time". It also means "bathroom break", "shower" and "stare blankly at the wall time". In some cases it also means Naptime - not just for the baby...ahem.
  • Feeding an infant is only fun in three cases: 1. If you don't mind spending a half hour spooning, plunging, and scraping the mouth of what comes right back out, then repeating. 2. You have 30 minutes three times a day (outside of three bottle feedings) to sit and stare out the window while doing #1 above. 3. You don't mind watching it all come up as soon as you're done as Daddy throws baby in the air for a giggle.
  • Two words: Spit. Up. Go hack up what you last ate and throw it on your shoulder. Then try to rub it out with a cloth diaper. Now keep that shirt on because you're too tired and too busy to change it. Now do the same thing to the couch, the chair, the carpet, the blanket on the floor, and your bed. When you're done, start all over.
  • Laundry for two people is a once every other week kind of job. Add one baby to that mix and it becomes a daily event. See the previous bullet if you don't believe me.
  • Grab a bag of potatoes and carry it around all day. Lay it on a blanket on the floor for about ten minutes every three hours. That's all you get, honey. Otherwise, keep it in your lap. Worried you'll get brown "dirt" on your white pants from the bag of potatoes? Welcome to my world, and it's not "dirt", by the way.
  • Go do your hair. Put your jewelry on. Now, go pick up baby and the first thing he does and is grab your hair with one hand and your necklace with the other. Hair is out of the clip in two seconds and the necklace is in a million pieces on the floor. I now understand why Moms have short hair and no accessories. It's a complete waste of time.
  • Diaper bags are for the birds. They are so heavy and bulky and in the way. You never know what to "really" take with you and it's most always the wrong thing. Get a big purse and throw a diaper, bottle, and some wipes in there. Forget the rest.
  • All those expensive fancy toys? Forget about it. Babies will play with paper if it crinkles loud enough. They are not interested in "Turning Two Talking Timmy". They are interested in anything you have in your hand that seems even remotely "off limits". Save your money.
  • All those amazingly cute and cuddly outfits you've bought? Total fantasy part of having a baby. Guess what you'll have them live in? The plain friggin onesies. Oh yes, you will. Know why? Because it's a friggin pain to get them in and out of said "cute and cuddly" (i.e. complicated and too fancy) outfits. Stick with "slip em on and off" stuff. The rest is Sunday only and even that's pushing it. Who has time for 42 buttons and 22 snaps?
  • Eating isn't really necessary anymore. Unless you feed the baby at a time other than your own eating time - forget it. You will either not eat what you have on your plate - or you will eat very little - or it will be stonecold whilst you try to woof it down so you can deal with baby. Say goodbye to eating and just get over it.
  • Babies only have one form of communication when they are little. Crying. Just let that sink in for a second. Only one form. One. Crying. Enough said.
  • When you think you're going to lose your mind - and you cannot get more than one thing done in a three hour period - that's when you know that you're THERE. You know, THERE as in "you're a mother".
  • Giving an infant medicine is like giving a cat a bath. Good luck with that.
  • Video Monitors are a great, great invention. But don't be surprised when you spend twenty minutes starting at it, trying to see if the baby is breathing. Would have been faster to just go in there and give a little nudge. But let's face it - when the baby is sleeping, I'd rather gnaw my own arm off than even remotely toy with waking him up for a "breath check". So I cave and spend the 20 minutes looking at that tiny screen for even the slightest movement. You'll see.
  • Take a minute and write down what you do with every minute of your time now. The pre-baby now. Then go back and read it with wonder and awe when you have baby. You will realize the true blessing of unencumbered time.
  • You don't have to be a couple who flies by your pants and takes off for long weekends in Vegas to come to the realization that that's over for awhile. You can just be the "let's go grab a bite to eat" couple at 8:00PM and then realize that doing that now means that the baby who is in bed by 7 will not only still be up at 8 as your arriving to said eatery, but will be entering Meltdown Phase III by 8pm and that suddenly going out to eat at 8pm takes on many different elements of "no fun". Suddenly you relish a Domino's Pizza, that you wouldn't have touched under normal circumstances. Keep a great list of "delivery" places handy. Just trust me on this.
  • Saying "my kid will just have to learn to sleep where we are" is TOM FOOLERY. You must believe me. Not at the beginning, anyway. It takes time to adjust and attach and feel safe and just willing them to sleep in public or at some place like church, etc. could be very shortsighted. They will no more sleep where you will them to, than they will sit up and talk to you at 7 months old. Be realistic. Schedules are just easier when maintained and having a schedule means that YOU too are on that schedule to a certain extent. But baby is happier and so are you when it's kept. It's just true.
  • The first poop is cute. I know, hard to believe. The second and third are kind of "ewww and aah" and then when you hit poop #4 - you hit a wall with how permanent this pooping/diaper gig is. Trust me on this...when you've had your hands in poopy diapers all day - and it accidentally gets on your hand, or the baby sticks his cute little foot right on into it, or reaches down with his super stretch arms to plant his whole hand into it - (not that I'm naming names...ahem) then you will find that those cute little diapers you're nesting now will soon be your arch nemesis. And yes, they are cute. When they're empty and folded nicely in the diaper stacker basket from PBK. No argument there. But just you wait, 'Enry Iggins'...just you wait.
Now...having said all that - (still with me?) let me tell you most important part of all - via bullets:

  • When they told you that being a mom is the hardest job of all - after 21 days on the job - I concur. But I also concur with the part about it being the most rewarding. Hands down - the best thing I have ever done in my short little life. No question.
  • Morning person or night owl - you will adapt and sleep when you can. And the TV shows can wait. Regardless, there is NO greater feeling than seeing that little wonder smile up at you in the morning when you go to get them out of their crib. It's AMAZING.
  • Nap time means you get to nap. Freebee! And you don't need a reason - you've wrestled a baby all day - nap time is part of the package!
  • There is something very special about bottle feedings and having those big eyes look up at you and having that little tiny hand reach up and pat your face while their feeding. It's a wonder I don't cry every time that little hand touches mine.
  • The laundry, spit up, lack of warm meals and limited time are somehow in God's great design, mitigated by the most amazing cuddles and hugs and baby loving you could ever imagine.
  • Forget your hair and jewelry - you've waited a long time for this little person to be here...hair and earrings can wait. Who cares anyway?
  • When your baby is crying there is definitely a motherly instinct to comfort and console. There is a desire to sooth away their tears. You cannot compare it to anything when simply putting them in your arms calms their upset.
  • All the late nights and diaper free moments that you're saying to farewell to - who cares. There's a vast difference in your life when you go from a family of two to three and I'm talking in a wonderful and warm and fuzzy way.
  • You cannot compare life now to life with baby. They are completely different and should not be set side by side. Your life will be completely different and that's a fact. You can't try to make one match the other. Instead, try to allow both to be and fall exactly where they need to. If you are married - enjoy your spouse. I know we hear this a lot - but it's true. You will think fondly of it when you have added to your clan. After baby, you will have fun - it's just a different kind of fun.
  • You cannot prepare for the reality and levity of having a child. I just don't care what people say about this. You cannot. Until they hand you that baby and walk away - you can't fully appreciate the heaviness of the circumstance. But on the other hand - you cannot prepare yourself for the love you will feel either. It is absolutely breathtaking. I can't even begin to compare it to anything in my life...
  • Agree now on basics for child rearing and discipline. Don't wait. Make sure you iron out the big stuff now. We have friends who ended their long marriage after baby came because they could not agree how to discipline. So sad. Agree now the path you plan to take. At least in general terms.
  • I promise you - you will be amazed at what you're capable of and how far you are willing to go for the new love of your life.
  • And most of all - no matter what insecurities you may harbor, or how inadequate you may feel on certain days - or how dark you may feel in your wait for your little one - I promise you, your mommy instinct will kick in at just the right moment. Some people warned me "you probably won't feel love at first sight - so just be ready for that". Wrong. I felt immediately connected and emotional and moved to tears, and felt a deep love for Quint the minute he was placed in my arms. I'm not saying it's that way for everyone - but I'm here to tell you today that I was absolutely the person who thought I would not bond to him right away. I was absolutely the one who said "it will take time to love him". I was the one who said "my instincts probably won't kick in, because they're friggin broken from waiting so dang long". I was wrong, wrong, wrong. So set that fear aside - do yourself a favor and forget it. No more what if's. You will be amazed - truly amazed - at what your heart is capable of in that moment. Heart iced over for protection? Don't be afraid - you won't have any room for ice when that baby reaches up and puts their hand on your cheek. Just trust me on this one...
Ok, so that's my Ugly, Good, and Really Good. I know you didn't really ask my opinion - but it's my blog after all - so I just put it out there because it was on my mind. Please take everything i say here with a grain of salt and only apply what fits for you. I am simply expressing MY thoughts and newly gained opinions of MY experience with motherhood and adoption. Yours may be completely different and that's perfectly ok. The point was to make you laugh and make you smile, and make you think "hmmm, where's the sugarcoating?" and give you a little insight into my world right now.

I've got a whole post about Ethiopia and the orphanage I'm working on - and it's a challenge of the heart for me - because it was a very bittersweet experience. I don't want to offend anyone - but for me, the trip was very, very difficult and wrought with complications. On the other hand, we were given the most amazing gift in our son. So anyway - it's a work in progress...I'm just refining it.

I'll be back...


Catherine said...

Thanks so much Christie. I find it helpful to hear the good, the bad and the ugly so that someday when days (and nights) are tough I'll have some recollection of 'ooohhhh, this is what Christie was talking about!' Ummm, not that I'll remember your name in my sleep deprived state...not that I'll remember my name in my sleep deprived state! ;o)

Thank you! You're doing great, Mom!!

Briana's Mom said...

Did you climb inside my head and pull out all my thoughts? Being a mama is HARD - harder than I ever thought it would be.

My relationship with Doug is completely different than it was before. It's still good - just different. It isn't just about the two of us anymore.

It does get a little easier when kids get more independent. Briana self feeds, walks and can sit down a watch a movie. That gives me a few minutes to get other things done. Unfortunately, she still exhausts me! But the problem with independence is now that Briana is starting to voice her opinion and is starting to test me. The joys of motherhood!!!

Isabella's Mommy & Daddy said...

Okay ~ first question... When did you find time to write all of that...
THAT was amazing..
HUGS to you girly..
Great Job..
I will have to say having 3.. I know when Isabella comes along I will have forgotten everything.. It will be like starting all over..
Hugs girly..
Can't wait to hear about Ethiopia...I am sure it was rough. can't even imagine.
Have a Great Week.
Love the pictures..
Quint is soooo cute..

amy said...

Thanks for your honesty. Your "experience" makes great writing. I can not wait for all of this!

3D said...

Thank you. I think a lot like that and cannot wait for my time to experience it.

Keep smilin!

Dawn and Dale said...

What a GREAT post Christie!!! You've learned and picked up things already with number one that I didn't realize or figure out till #4 or 5!!! lol (ie...the STUPID diaper bag thing!!! Oh ya! Charla only has a diaper and wipes and sippy cup in my MUCH bigger purse!!! lol)

You're a wonderful mommy and Quint is thriving because of it!! :)

Hmmmmm.....just you wait till Miss Keira comes!!! lol One will seem like a piece of cake when #2 arrives!!!! ;)

Andrew & Stephanie said...

You know how I feel about your $.02! :) Thanks for the sage advice! :) I'm sure I'll be back for more!!!

Cora said...

Wow what a great post. Thanks for sharing it with us waiting 1st time parent. I can't even imagine what it is going to be like. I can't wait for the "Ugly, Good and Really Good"
Great pictures you have am amazing son!

Anonymous said...

Who couldn't bond to the child with such a CUTE grin and CUTE frown. Hey Christie, I could write a blog about teens. :) I didn't believe them when they said that teens were harder than babies. It never gets easier, just different and just as wonderful. So wonderful that I can't wait till China lets me start over.

Misty said...

That was awesome! I'm trusting you, and I'm saving this post so that I can refer to it in the dark days. So so awesome to see you as mom.

Anonymous said...

wow! you have come a long way in a few short days! you must be a genius of motherhood, because it took me sooo much longer to learn those things! i hated that diaper bag so much that i used a back pack, and after several years of carrying that instead of a purse i went "purseless" when there was no need for diapers. getting used to carrying one (a purse) again has been hard. your son is beautiful. will he be able to travel to china with you after his ear problems? you should write a parenting column with your adventures and witty insight. blessings, mrs.k.

Kelley said...

Ahem...I knew that you weren't believing us "seasoned moms" about all the highs and lows of parenthood! HA! It's one hard and fantastic experience all rolled into one little bundle! And, just went you think you have it figured out...they throw something new at you...like walking...and then, talking! Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

So true & you totally cracked me up about about the onesies that they always end up wearing even though they have a whole wardrobe of beautiful clothes! Just make sure you don't save his best clothes for a "special occasion" because he will likely outgrow them before that day arrives! I made that mistake w/ my first baby!! :) ~Holly

kvksmith said...

What a great Blog and what a wonderful surprise to hear from you. I can't believe we have been reconnected. Kristi is a very dear friend from way back. GOD has a way of bringing people together. We need to get together with you and your family!

Quint is just absolutely adorable!
Vicki Smith

Kayce said...

Oh so true, so true! Sounds like you got it under control!! You're doing a fab job girl!

Room for Grace said...

I'm with dawn and dale, above, how in the world did you figure out, think through all of this in such a short amount of time?

Agree with all of it. The thing that makes the 2nd or 3rd child easier is that you are already on the tot schedule so that part is not so shocking. Now you do have an entire other child care for, that part is still tricky at times!


Jennifer said...

True dat! So funny, all the bullet points, so true! You cannot in any way prepare for motherhood. The only preparing is in the doing.