10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had a Baby...

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July 19, 2011

As I mentioned last week, my daughter turned three over the weekend, and just like I have for the last two years, I got extremely nostalgic.

I remember being pregnant and having a newborn like it was yesterday–it was the happiest time of my life. I’m typically a pretty even-tempered person, so I approached pregnancy and motherhood with serenity and calm. I didn’t take any classes and I only read one book. I just trusted that my instincts would kick in and I’d figure things out.

For the most, this approach has worked for me. For the most part. Becoming a mother has been the joy of my life, but let’s be honest, it’s also an incredibly overwhelming experience. Along the way, especially in the beginning, there have been little things I wish I would have been better prepared for or at least warned about.

So as a service to expectant moms and new moms just beginning the adventure that is motherhood, I wanted to share some of the things I wish I knew before I had a baby. Hopefully, there’s at least one in here that will make those first few months just a little easier.

1. Breastfeeding may be a natural process, but it doesn’t come naturally to all mothers. I was one of them. But even though I only breastfed my daughter  for a short time, she is still happy, healthy and smart as a whip.

2. You hear about the hormones, but they affect every woman differently. My mother stayed with me for the first week I was home after giving birth. When she left, I cried in secret every day–really, multiple times a day–because I wanted her to come back. Turns out, that was totally normal.

3. Everyone knows the actual delivery isn’t pretty, but for some reason fewer people talk about the recovery. I delivered naturally and yikes, those first few weeks are uncomfortable to say the least. I’ve heard recovering from a C-section is even worse.

4. Babies don’t really need a ton of clothes. Being the shopaholic that I am, my daughter had enough outfits to last for the first six months of her life without repeating before she was even born. Too bad she lived in onesies 6 days out of the week until she was 3 months old.

5. Sleep when the baby sleeps! This is the one thing my mother drilled into my head while she was with me. The dishes and the laundry and everything else waiting for you will get done. But your survival totally depends on you getting as much sleep as you can.

6. If you need help, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask. The first two nights I got up every time my daughter did and I was miserable. I finally caved and asked my mom if she’d take care of the feedings from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and oh what a difference those four hours made.

7. Despite my breastfeeding troubles, I experienced breast leakage like nobody’s business. The milk never seemed to come when my daughter latched on, but when I heard her cry they’d start leaking like crazy. Whether or not you choose to breastfeed, your nursery isn’t complete without a supply of nipple pads.

8. The other physical reaction I totally wasn’t prepared for? For the first few weeks, whenever my daughter cried or coo’d my uterus would start contracting. I honestly have no idea if this is normal or not, but I imagine it just goes to show the incredible bond mothers have with their children.

9. Not all babies burp all the time. I feel like this is something you constantly see in movies and on TV–as soon as the baby finishes eating, a few pats on the back and voila! he/she burps. Not so. Well at least not for my baby. Try as I might, there were some occasions when my daughter just didn’t burp. And according to my doc, that was fine. My baby girl never suffered with gas or colic–she just didn’t burp all the time.

10. Last, but definitely not least, beware of the poop. Seriously. When I finally started putting my baby in actual outfits, there were days when she’d poop right through them. I was mortified–disgusted, even–the first time I discovered there was not only poop on her clothes, but it had also run down her leg. There is nothing nice or fun about cleaning up baby feces, but you should be prepared for it nonetheless.

Now I’m sure I’ve missed a few things–so your turn. Share what you wish you would have known before you had a baby in the comments.

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