When I was preparing for our first child, I became a Pinterest fanatic. I read every one of the “Things that Nobody Tells You” articles that I could find and talked to a lot of moms. They talked about postpartum bleeding, the terror of pooping, and other such nightmarish things (if you want to learn more about those things, this is a good read). I thought that I was ready. But still (sigh), after giving birth I discovered yet more surprises.
I was pretty upset that nobody told me these 5 things, because every time I stumbled into one, I felt like a rug was pulled out from under my feet.
I don’t want you to be unprepared, or worse, think that you are crazy if you already have a newborn, so allow me to fill you in on some of the unexpected lessons that I learned.
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The hormones can be insane
No, seriously. Before I had a baby, one of my friends told me that after she gave birth to her daughter she hated her husband. She couldn’t stand looking at him, talking to him, or smelling him. She even threw a plate at him!
She never told me that hating your partner was a pretty normal postpartum thing (maybe she didn’t know either), so I silently judged her, only to be served a piece of humble pie two years later.
I didn’t throw a plate at my husband, but I fantasized about it more than I would like to admit. Turns out that after your baby is born your hormones can go CRA-ZY for a while. You might not want to throw a plate at your partner, but then again, you might. You never know. Thankfully this is completely normal and will pass over time.
If these feelings stick around for more than two weeks, please seek out professional help asap. One of my greatest regrets is not doing this sooner.
Babies make a lot of weird, finicky sounds
It can be very difficult to sleep when you are constantly hearing grunts and sighs, whether next to you or over a monitor. My brother and I both had the same problem with our newborns, despite different sleeping situations for our children. My husband and I co-slept with our daughter, while my brother and his wife used a baby monitor.
Update: With Baby #2 I am using the Snuza Hero and LOVE it!
The Snuza Hero is a little device that clips onto your baby’s diaper and monitors their breathing. If the baby stops breathing for 15 seconds, it will give a strong vibration to try to rouse the baby. And if the baby does not respond within 5 more seconds, an alarm will ring to wake you up.
This piece of magic lets me sleep soundly without worrying about SIDS. I can’t tell you how many times I would stare at my oldest daughter’s belly or put my hand in front of her mouth to make sure that she was breathing.
As long as I have the Snuza Hero on my baby, I know that she is breathing fine. The first night I put it on incorrectly, and it went off four times. So I know it works!
Baby’s cry will make you go crazy
Be prepared to have your brain scrambled like an egg. I couldn’t figure out why I would lose my mind every time my daughter cried. My heart would race, palms would sweat, and my brain would either go completely blank or explode. It was like a weird form of torture. If I could have ripped off my arm to make it stop, I would have done it in a heartbeat.
I soon discovered that this is normal. A baby’s cry is hardwired to illicit a fear response in everyone around them. And fear we did. You can read more about this unfortunate hardwiring here. Even though I couldn’t change it, it was helpful to know that I wasn’t the only one having this problem.
When your milk comes in it can be a monumentally painful experience, or just another day
It depends in large part on what you do. I had no idea that this was even a thing.
I knew that women first produce colostrum, and then after a 3-7 days it changes to milk. I had no idea that it was a big ordeal for our bodies though. The night that my milk came in was the worst night of Emmie’s infant life.
I had the biggest boob ache (no, that is not a typo), and my tatas were hot to the touch. My skin stretched until it itched like crazy. I didn’t realize at the time that my milk was coming in, but a quick Google search for engorged boobs told me that cool cabbage leaves might be helpful. Thankfully I had some on hand, but I couldn’t walk more than 3 feet before they were warm and wilted.
On the other side of the world, one of my friends knew what to expect, so she just took a shower to let the warm water help her naturally express the flood of milk that was coming in. Other women put warm, wet diapers on their boobs to do the same thing. So be smart: don’t do what I did.
Bonding isn’t always instant, but nobody wants to admit it
In the months before my daughter joined us, I imagined the moment of her arrival being magical. I fully expected it to be a beautiful, holy moment in which I would suddenly experience a deeper love than I had ever known before. Deep down I think I envisioned fairy dust and angels.
Instead I was greeted by an angry, screaming baby who felt much more like a stranger than the child that I had been connecting with in my belly just moments before. How could this baby who had once been so familiar and dear to me now be a complete stranger?
It took a long time before I really bonded with her; months to be honest. I tried. I tried so hard. We had an unusual and unfortunate start which you can read about here.
After talking to many mom friends, I realized that a lot of them were disappointed because they had similar expectations that went unmet. I don’t know anybody else that took months to bond with their baby, but I have met many that took a few days or even weeks until they felt that special connection.
Either way, I can assure you that if you reach out to get the help that you need, you will bond with your baby. And that bond will be stronger and deeper than anything else you have experienced. When that bond forms, you will understand all the mom jokes about how someone can drive you absolutely insane, and yet so you can be so deeply and overwhelmingly in love with them at the same time. It is a bond that words will always fail to express; one that has to be experienced to be understood.
If your baby is more than a few weeks old and you haven’t bonded yet, please seek professional help. It is very likely that you have Postpartum Depression (PPD). This is more common than most people realize, and is nothing to be ashamed of. Above all, it is not your fault.
Delayed bonding and PPD are real struggles that are especially close to my heart. If they are something that you are struggling with, it would be my joy and honor to walk through the trenches with you. Email me at Jade@MommyMatters.co.