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Dear New or Soon-to-be Mom,
Baby blogs and slick parenting magazines make the first year of your little one's life seem like magical moment after magical moment. Don't get me wrong - there are lots of them! But as a seasoned mother, it does worry me that many new moms get totally caught off guard by the stress-filled reality of life with a tiny new person. Soon-to-be-mom, here's what I really want you to know.
You're Never Going to Sleep Again
It always makes me cringe a little when I hear a new mom say, "I read in my book that she'll start sleeping through the night at 6 months. I can't wait!" Honey, you're adorable. And... your baby can't read. They don't know that they're supposed to be sleeping through the night at 6 months. Babies are all over the map when it comes to sleep. My first slept through the night consistently starting at 10 weeks. My second didn't sleep through the night until 10 months. My friend's baby still gets up once a night and he's 23 months old. Nothing's wrong with him. He's a healthy, happy kid in a healthy, happy family - and he might be trying to kill his mother. Try to sneak some naps and know that you'll eventually go from "no sleep" to "not enough sleep" - and then you'll plateau there for, oh, about a decade.
Your Breasts are Going to Explode
Not literally. But they'll feel like it, until the day that they don't. Then you'll be typing in, "how to increase milk supply" on Google and wondering why the first thing that comes up has to do with dairy cows. And that's going to make you feel like a dairy cow, albeit one that's not making enough milk. A dairy cow that is starving her calf! You'll use your hooves to click on the next link, a really helpful one that recommends drinking a special herbal tea and you're going to want to try it - now. Too bad it's 2am and you're baby's cluster nursing and you're convinced your udders are absolutely useless until you get that tea into you. So, can you do this for both of us? Can you just spend that $5 now, pre-baby, and have that tea in your cupboard? You might never need it. But you'll only want it when your hair is in a greasy topknot and you've worn the same underwear two days in a row. Buy. The. Tea. Now.
One Day Baby will get Sick
(and if You Work, it's Going to Happen when You can't take a Sick Day)
Your little one's going to get a cold. It won't be a big deal, but it will mean no daycare. Presuming that a family member or friend can't take Mr. Coodielicious for the day, that means you or your partner need to stay home from work. All of a sudden it's very likely going to feel like 1953. I don't care how progressive your house is; if you exist in this culture and you're living with the other half of your baby's genetic make up, there's going to be an unspoken understanding that Mom's the one who should call in sick. And, maybe that's your preference, too. I'm convinced that biology allows most males to look at a kid with a drippy nose and say, "Maybe I should get around to wiping that," while most women see it and think, "Thank God I have this snot sucker that has two tips - one for her nose and one for my mouth. I wonder if she's breathing. Is she breathing!? She's not breathing! Breathe, Sweetie! Breathe!!! Ok. Phew. She took a breath. But I'm going to shove this up her nose just in case."
But maybe Mom staying home isn't the best thing on that particular day. Can you float this hypothetical now, so that you don't have to hash it out when Baby is running a fever? Because that's a really bad time to decide that your spouse is a sexist louse, unworthy of your love and affections. Talk about it ahead of time.
You're Going to Want to put it All on Facebook
And you should! But then do every woman you know a favor and put it all on Facebook. We could all benefit from more authentic socially-mediated personas. You're perpetuating a myth when all you post are rainbows and cherries - and that can make other moms (And you!) feel isolated and "not enough." So be honest. Post a great picture of your kid, but caption it with, "She's all smiles today! You can't even tell that she was up four times last night. Guess who can!? Me! I am so exhausted!" You won't sound whiney, you'll sound real. And real is good!
Make the Connection
When you're pregnant, trying to become pregnant or are adjusting to life as a new mother, building connections in your community is an invaluable investment in your quality of life. Here's one way to do it that only takes a few seconds: "Like" and follow the SCV Birth Center on Facebook. You'll have instant access to info on local events like free cloth diapering classes, mommy gatherings, fun documentary screenings, breastfeeding classes, natural childbirth education and so much more. Plus, you'll find smart links that are truly helpful (The one about how big your baby's tummy is at birth and beyond is amazing!). Search "Santa Clarita Birth Center" on Facebook and join the conversation!