As a mom of two young boys, ages 6 and 9, I can tell you I’ve been given a lot of advice over the years. I remember being a brand new mom and getting lots of unsolicited advice…that still happens. But please remember, there is a difference between advice and criticism. I respond well to advice; take it or leave it I figure. I’ll listen and be polite, but I don’t have to agree. But parenting criticism? No. Just no. I’m the mom and won’t pretend I’m right all the time concerning my parenting, but you sure as heck aren’t going to tell me you are right about how I should parent my kids. That’s just rude.
I’m currently in the stage of life when I know I am done pro-creating. My humans are made and growing. My husband and I made two males, and our family is perfectly perfect for us. I have lots of friends with kids and I have lots of friends without. In fact, most of my best friends since I was a wee-one are just now beginning to think about starting families. Today, I was on the phone with my bestie since fourth grade and we laughed about the stage of life she will be entering soon when she and her husband begin their family. I’ve been through a lot as a mom.
So my discussion with my best friend, who is thinking about the prospect of mommyhood, made me really start thinking about the fact that I was punked by a lot of moms who tried to give me “advice” when I began my family. I’ve compiled a list for you so you know when you’ve been lied to and can properly prepare for the reality of life as a parent.
Disclaimer…I understand trying to be super positive. Mommyhood is an absolutely awesome gig. However, in never sharing the reality that we all struggle at times, we make new mommies feel badly for not always enjoying every minute. So let’s be honest on both sides, shall we?
- “Trying to have a baby is fun! It will be a magical time for you and your husband.”
Let’s face it. We are taking sex, something that should be quite enjoyable for a married couple, and turning it into a job. The ultimate goal is to create a human. Ready. Go! That’s a lot of pressure. With a job comes stress, and trying to have a baby can be stressful. Every month, if procreating hasn’t happened yet, you’ll get your monthly visitor and you will feel disappointed, sometimes even fearful. It’s not always a magical time. My advice? Try as hard as you can to relax and just “let it happen.” If it doesn’t happen right away, try not to stress and worry. Remember, there are a lot of ways to make a family. Trying can take a long time for many. But the more you stress, the worse your chances are. Trying to have a baby can be fun; with that I agree. But it can also be messy and stressful. Don’t fret; your family will happen. The more you plan, the more God laughs. Take time from baby making to just enjoy your spouse so you forget the ultimate goal. Focus on your marriage first.
- “Pregnancy is such an amazing time of life. You will love every minute.”
Amazing? Yes. Worth it? Yes. You will love every minute? No…not even close. And that’s okay. If you are surrounded by women who say they just “want to stay pregnant forever,” find new friends. Those women are lying to themselves and to you. And if they aren’t, they are aliens whom are obviously not experiencing or noticing the reality of pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are absolutely awful and they certainly happen. Your boobs begin to look like they belong to some old woman but they are still attached to you; it’s very confusing. Leaking happens everywhere there is a hole; again, very odd and overwhelming. Heartburn…ooohh the heartburn. The tiny humans like to wedge themselves in places (mine took up residence with feet under my ribs) and stretch to oblivion so it is impossible to sleep or get comfortable. And then there’s labor. Actually, labor was my favorite part because it meant I was almost done being pregnant. But I’m not going to lie; it hurts.
The main part about pregnancy they don’t warn you about? Worry. Worry took over so much of my joy. It is possible to enjoy pregnancy, especially knowing the end result is so worth everything, but there are a lot of normal emotions to be prepared for. There is a lot that can go wrong, but there is a lot that doesn’t go wrong. Try not to worry. Try to enjoy it. You will be uncomfortable and you may or may not love being pregnant. Both are fine. So don’t think you are weird if you don’t enjoy every minute.
- “Baby snuggles are the best; you will just love having a newborn.”
Okay, I can’t dispute that baby snuggles are the best and it’s awesome to have a newborn, but there are some hidden dangers in saying to every mom that you will just “love having a newborn.” When Hudson was three days old, I was so exhausted that I walked through a doorway holding him and nailed his head on the side of the door. Bam! I dropped to my knees and bawled for an hour trying desperately to understand how I, Bailey Koch, was effectively going to keep this precious tiny human alive. I. Was. Not. Worthy. I felt completely unfit. Then, I went downstairs and took a hot bath to try to relax and calm down. My boobs started shooting milk literally across the bathroom. Little did I know, I also had a massive infection. Mastitis. My fever was 103.5 at that moment. I had just given birth and it hurt to sit, stand, pee, poop, move, etc. My emotions were everywhere and there was no escaping the fact that I felt like absolute crap and was one of two people solely responsible for keeping this child alive. In those moments, I did not love having a newborn. I was terrified. And now I see that I was also having a completely normal reaction to being a new mom. I learned to accept help and tried hard to embrace those baby snuggles in between breakdowns, burps, and breastfeeding nightmares. This brings me to the next lie.
- “Breastfeeding is a completely natural process. You will catch right on.”
I’m pretty passionate about this one. No, it’s not completely natural for many. Some moms are rock stars at breastfeeding. Some are not. I am not. In fact (and this is not an invitation to tell me how horrible of a human I am because I am not a fan of breastfeeding), I am quite creeped out by breastfeeding in general. I think it’s fabulous if women want to breastfeed. I don’t even have issues seeing it; it’s a boob with a human attached. The human has to eat, and this is a completely okay decision by the mother to feed her human in this format. So get over it. Don’t want to see it? Don’t look. For me, I hated it. It never felt natural. I never felt bonded to my child during breastfeeding. It never worked, and frankly, I felt extremely uncomfortable.
I tried to breastfeed; I tried hard. I lasted with Hudson for 8 weeks and had mastitis three times. I bled. My nipples were horribly sore, and I was completely miserable. Every time I tried to feed my son, I cried. He cried. Neither of us were getting anywhere. I utilized the help of everyone, from friends and family to breastfeeding experts and doctors. I only kept trying because so many women made me feel like absolute crap for not loving every minute of breastfeeding. I was made to feel like a failure, and now I look back and want to tell those women, “Shame on you for making some feel this way.” I did not feel supported at all. Finally, a fabulous doctor said to me, “Bailey, it’s okay. Your body is not making enough for Hudson and it’s not your fault. You gave it your all. It’s okay.” I cried and cried and cried that I was never able to enjoy it or make it work like so many made me believe was supposed to happen. In fact, I even refused to give up when I had Asher. I thought maybe I just hadn’t tried hard enough. But the same things happened with him. I lasted two weeks and got mastitis again. Again, I utilized all the help available. It didn’t work. I hated breastfeeding and it did not work for my body. I was uncomfortable and miserable the entire time and my sons were not getting the nutrition they needed and deserved. They needed formula.
I’m not sharing this for any other reason than to help you understand it’s not natural for everyone; that is why there are breastfeeding experts. If you want to try it, awesome. If not, don’t allow society to make you feel badly about that. If you don’t feel natural about it, or are even slightly creeped out by it as I was, don’t feel bad. Breastfeeding or not is a choice. Do what’s right for you.
- “You will miss this.”
This is my favorite lie, and I still hear it all the time. I post something about a mountain of laundry and somebody inevitably writes, “You will miss this someday.” I say something about my son being grounded for being extremely disrespectful and somebody says, “One day, your house will be quiet.”
Okay, I think it’s great that you miss the mountain of laundry, but I don’t. And I don’t plan on it. I get that my house will be quiet, but that doesn’t mean I will miss ear-piercing screaming and door slamming. You also told me I would miss having infants. Guess what? I don’t. I am in a fabulous time of life when I get to borrow my awesome friends’ tiny humans and then give them back. I am not responsible for them 24 hours a day. Our boys are 6 and 9 and I am learning to embrace every stage. I now have small to medium-sized humans and with that comes new triumphs and challenges; every stage does. Someday, my 9 year old will grow out of fits and door slams when he doesn’t get his way; I will not miss those moments. My children sleep through the night with no problems; I do not miss the stage when we were up with them at all hours. My children know how to tell me when something hurts; I do not miss those moments of tears streaming down their sweet little faces and mommy having no idea what to do to help. My children do not poop in the bathtub or rip off their pants randomly after having done their business only to smear it in or on places it’s not supposed to be; I do not miss clean-up from said disasters.
Some phases I look back on with fondness and I smile. Some things I miss…yes. Some cause me to look back and laugh hysterically at the fact we all survived. I do not miss everything. I’m thoroughly trying to enjoy every stage (some days are harder than others), and I think that’s okay.
So it’s true. We all have been lied to. But there is one thing we can all likely agree on…no matter what, parenting is a pretty great gig. Just know you are not crazy for not loving every minute. It’s okay to look forward to the next stage.