Kate Trout is the author behind Maternity Glow, A New Mom’s Guide to Figuring it All Out. She’s a coffee addict, wine drinker and cheese lover. Oh, and she’s also mom to the two cutest little kids.
I remember when I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter a few years ago, one of my very first thoughts was — I got this.
At the time, I admit to being a bit overconfident about being a mom and how perfect a parent I was going to be. After all, I had two little nieces who I really connected with, and I had always been really good around little kids. So, there was no doubt in my mind that being a mommy would be a snap.
Yeah, was I wrong.
And so today, one daughter and one son later, here are the top five things I wish I had known before becoming a mom.
1. I’d Be Exhausted — Constantly
I’d been warned that the first night (and even week) home is pretty hairy. But, in my mind, I figured that after a month or so, everything would go back to how it was before the baby, sleep-wise.
I was pretty much a walking zombie (and still may be, I’m not even sure anymore) for the first year. I have only slept until 7 a.m. three times since my daughter was born. Now, all babies are different. And, some may be amazing sleepers, but for a while, I had to function on very intermittent sleep. I also had no idea how long it takes some babies to get on a sleep schedule. At around four months old, my son started to sleep for six-hour stretches. Then, at around six months when he made it until 6:00 a.m., things started to go from better to worse.
No one ever told me babies go through some major sleep regressions, so as soon as I started to feel comfortable and confident that I had my little guy hooked on a routine, I had to start all over again. (On the bright side of things, four to six cups of coffee a day really helps.)
2. I Needed a New Wardrobe
And, no — not the good or fun kind! At first, I’m not sure what I was thinking when I sported some of my favorite clothes around my little girl. Vomit, poop snot, and formula all ended up on my favorite ensembles. It took lots of bleaching and dry cleaning until I threw in the towel. Eventually, I invested in lots of long and short-sleeved tees to wear around the house. Then, when I wanted to run out to the store or take my girl out on playdates, I’d add a cardigan to them because these basics make great layering pieces. I tend to only wear these clothes when I’m home, and not to more formal events, keeping them totally separate from my favorite pieces in my wardrobe. This way, I wouldn’t care as much if these plain (but comfortable) basics took a beating.
3. I’d Become a “Mama Bear” from Time to Time
Kids will be kids, and sometimes they get into trouble. It’s a part of growing up, and I’ve often had conversations with parents about this. But, after becoming a mom, I totally understand a parent’s concern (and anxiety that borders on insanity) when it comes to making sure their child is safe and protected at all times.
One day, at my son’s sitter’s house, a 4-year-old boy pinched him and left quite a mark. I totally kept cool on the outside, but on the inside all I could picture doing was going up to that boy and pinching him back. I never thought I could experience such emotions, but once your little one is born, you simply develop such an intense love that you will sometimes know no limits when it comes to wanting to protect them.
4. I’d Worry — About Everything
Before my daughter was born, I wasn’t much of a worrier. I was a very go-with-the-flow type of gal. But, as soon as we went home from the hospital, without the nurse for help, and any basic instructions, I began to worry — about pretty much everything. Was she pooping enough? Was she eating enough? What did her cries mean? How was I going to pay for her college tuition? You name it, I worried about it.
And, now that my son is here and he’s over a year old, there are still things I’m worrying about. Is he where he needs to be developmentally? Am I socializing him enough? Why won’t he eat his peas? I try to shut the worry button off, but I have learned that once you become a mom, worrying just becomes part of your daily routine.
5. My Spouse Would Take a Backseat to My Child
If you’ve somehow managed to keep everything as it once was with your spouse before your baby, by all means, you are better than I am. But, I have yet to speak to one mom who has been able to do this. One thing I was not prepared for was having my husband take a backseat to my kids. We used to dine out often, have “dates” every weekend, make time for back rubs and foot massages after a long day, and we’d even surprise each other with cute little trinkets to show our love and admiration for each other. Now, I’m lucky if we get out to dinner once a month. I’m not complaining, that’s just the way it is.
I know it all depends on your support system around you, but even when you are able to still go out once a week, the moment my first child was born, things became a bit different. I wish I would have taken a lot more vacations with my hubby, and really have been more present during the intimate moments we did spend together pre-baby.
My life really did change once my first baby was born, but in many ways, it changed for the better.
What do you wish you’d known before having kids? —Kate