Feeling overwhelmed by all this new-mom stuff? Know that you're not alone. To prepare you for your baby's arrival and to put your mind at ease, we've rounded up 15 of our most popular stories surrounding motherhood, ranging from insightful personal stories to valuable parenting advice.
Sometimes it won’t feel worth it.
There’s going to come a moment when you wonder why you even became a mom at all. It’ll probably come at about three in the morning. You’ll be a little horrified because you’re doing your duty and feeding your angelic little baby, but at the same time, you really don’t want to feed them. You’re doing it anyway, of course, because you’re their mom and that’s what you do; but you’re almost mad at the whole situation.
Now the word “prepared” seems laughable to use in the context of becoming a parent — literally, becoming a whole new version of yourself, shedding your old skin and giving birth to the mother in you from the moment you give birth to your child. There is no way to prepare for motherhood and I wish I’d known that. But I also wish I’d known how to ask for help.
When I was pregnant, everyone was all about “warning” me about what was coming next. I walked around much of those 10 months (let’s face it, pregnancy is 10, not nine, months) absolutely terrified. The warnings flew at me from every angle — in the checkout line at Target, on the street, slipping my shoes on and walking out of the yoga studio. Warnings, warnings everywhere about what was to come — from the excruciating, mind-numbing pain of childbirth to the shell of my former self I was about to become once I had her. There were times I felt like a prisoner on death row, trying to force myself to enjoy some tiny luxury despite my size and discomfort, because if you asked around, apparently, my petty joys would be ending pretty soon!
Your baby is not like the other babies. Your baby is the only one of herself who has ever been, and you and your partner are the only experts on her. Your baby will not behave like the books say, won’t like what she’s supposed to like, won’t do what she’s supposed to do when she’s supposed to do it, and that’s normal and great and perfectly OK. The best thing you can do is put down your literature and get to know your baby.
You will eventually feel a type of happiness you never felt before and understand all the clichés of parenting. This type of pleasure simply doesn’t arrive as soon as you think it’s supposed to.
Last summer, photographer and body love evangelist Jade Beall told HuffPost Parents that society faced “an epidemic of women who feel unworthy of being called beautiful,” and shared her dream to cure this confidence crisis.
Beall’s work documents how women who give birth come to accept, appreciate and love the body changes associated with nine months of carrying a child.
Comparing themselves to other parents.
It’s so easy to look at other parents and beat yourself up. Yes, some moms look as lithe as a teenager on their way home from the hospital. Some parents never seem to lose their cool, even when cleaning baby vomit out of their hair. Others may seem ridiculously organized and not the least bit stressed by the demands of taking care of a baby. It’s not that these people are phonies, it’s that you’re not seeing the whole truth.
Childbirth is just one really rough day with — odds are very good — a happy ending. Prepare for it, but don’t let it define you. Epidurals suck, but there’s no gold medal for pain endurance. If you get a C-section, you still get a baby. I bore one with an epidural and bore one without. It really wasn’t all that different. Both hurt before, during and after. In one case, I also got a nice rest that I paid for with having to get a catheter. It wasn’t really worth it for me, but it might be for someone else.
Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely grateful I could have kids — I have friends who couldn’t get pregnant, and I had two difficult miscarriages between our two girls — so I don’t mean to be cavalier about having a baby. I love my kids at every stage, but I simply don’t like going through the newborn period.
You are no longer grossed out by the poop that manages to escape the diaper in every possible direction. It’s your new norm.
Have a good sense of humor. Caring for a baby is really hard, and it will test your sanity and endurance in countless ways. We try very hard to keep a good sense of humor about all of it. When our baby cries, he’s obviously threatening to write a really terrible Yelp review about the service at our bed and breakfast. When he spits up on his fourth outfit of the day, we ask him about last night’s bender. Yes, it’s stupid. But it makes us laugh and usually takes the edge off, and that’s worth a lot.
You really cannot get sh*t done when you have a baby.
I know you might think you can. That would be incorrect. I know that prior to having your baby, you had visions of catching up on a series of long-neglected organizational (and perhaps even crafting!) projects in between reading Anna Karenina and writing your autobiography. You planned on having the time to do all of this because the laundry and dishes would take like an hour MAX and then, well, with the baby napping so often the rest of the day would be WIDE OPEN!
Spending time with a newborn feels similar to being on a safari. The main activity is observing — watching the dozens of expressions she goes through in a minute, seeing her little chest go up and down, looking at those little arms flail about. (She makes a lot of little squeaks and grunts too, so there’s some listening involved.) Baby is a small creature governed entirely by nature, and so observing becomes a fascinating leisure activity.
Most importantly, our children are our mirrors, and they make me want to be a better person every single day. Less judging, more positivity, a healthy self image... it’s amazing to me how much we grow into ourselves once we have children.
I don’t dole out much parenting advice as a rule, largely because I have an almost 18-month-old and spend most of my days feeling like a complete and utter fraud and failure.
I know that sounds depressing, but here is the truth that will set you free: That’s what parenting is.