So you find out you are expecting a baby. Finally! You are excited, happy, nervous, and wondering where do you begin to sort out all the information and things you have to do before the little one joins you in nine months from now. Well-meaning family and friends tell you stories about parenthood, good and bad. They tell you how you will never have sex again, you will never sleep again, cook now, be prepared for all the laundry, all the noise and well, all the money and time spent on this little being who will be making your two some become a three some.
What they don’t tell you are that your experience as a Mom or Dad will be very unique to, well, you.
It is the first time you are taking on this awesome role of provider, nurturer and teacher, and your parenthood journey will look very different from your friend’s down the street, or your brother’s, sister’s or cousin’s journey. They don’t tell you that your child will also be unique and not like other babies. So, this may leave a lot of new Moms and Dads with a lot of questions and confusion. What can I expect from having a baby?
There will be lots of things you will learn along the way, but there are definitively many things people don’t tell you, but are quite common and universal in the parenting experience. Here are 10 of those things all new parents deserve to know:
8 Fueled By Nervous Adrenaline
Obviously , there are exceptions, but many new parents are on such a high with their newborn, and so busy with bonding, feeding, changing and putting them to bed that they don’t feel their exhaustion kick in until the adrenaline of having said baby has settled after the first month or so.
It’s not to say that they won’t be tired. It’s only that Moms and Dads won’t care as much at the beginning as they are so in love with their little one. Moms, in particular, will be releasing the oxytocin which helps in maternal bonding and that will help in fueling that mother/baby love and building the maternal bond.
Moms and Dads have caught themselves staring dreamily at their baby, laughing at the tiniest movement and things they do, and being fascinated by the fact that they created this beautiful human being. The miracle of life will be right in front of them.
7 Feeling Fear Like Never Before
This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the energy that feeds maternal fear is harnessed and used in only extreme cases. At the beginning though, when you are getting your feet wet as a parent, every little thing the baby does where they cry or look uncomfortable, will make a parent wonder if they are messing up big time and putting baby in danger.
Of course they are not, but will be checking up on themselves. As long as Mom and Dad remember to consult their pediatrician, reputable baby books, and most importantly, experienced parent friends, they will learn in time not to freak out every time baby gets the sniffles or has a scratch.
But this is all normal and part of the territory of being a new parent. The fist fever my son got we called my brother who is a parent himself. He laughed, told us what to do, and then said, “Welcome to parenthood.”
6 Loving Someone Else More Than Yourself
What? I need to shower? When did I last eat something? It’s my birthday? All things that related only to the parent themselves, will take a back burner for a while as Mom and Dad learn to put their own needs below that of their baby.
Of course parents will do their best to sleep, eat, and celebrate adult events, but these will lose their significance for a while as baby’s needs outweigh those of Mom, Dad and often other family members. This is all normal and will pass with time, when all the family members’ needs will be counted in.
However, once you are a parent, your way of viewing yourself and the world is changed forever. It will always be seen in relation to how it affects your little one and their needs. Parents know they hold their children’s live and welfare in their hands and take that job very seriously, and it doesn’t lessen up with age.
5 Don’t Forget To Enjoy Every Age
This is one that is particularly apt for me. My little guy is almost ten years old. I can still remember holding him in the hospital after I gave birth. I can remember how tiny he was, and how helpless.
Now this child bargains with me continuously for where he wants to go, what he wants to eat, and at times has rolled his eyes at me. I look at this almost preteen and remember having to do everything for him. It is a sobering thought how quickly time goes, and even though everyone tells you to enjoy kids when they are young, it is hard.
Parents are exhausted and don’t often think about being in the moment. It is important to enjoy every age with them though.
4 Babies Get Sick a Lot At The Beginning
Yep. And if they are in daycare or preschool, they are sick more than well sometimes. This is all normal until their immune system adjusts and then they can fight off anything.
Of course, remember the rule of what I said at the beginning that every child is unique. My little guy was rarely ever physically sick as a baby. We and he were very lucky for this. But with his autism and learning issues, we had stresses our friends with neuro typical kids did not have to face.
All of us struggled and had stress in our own way, and helped each other by listening. It’s important when you are a parent that you pace yourself and are ready for anything. Children pick up on our messages of hope and negativity. As parents, it is our job to be as strong and positive as we can for them, within reason. It’s not wrong to share our worries with them, as long as they do not have to solve the problems.
Baby Has Many Bathroom Or Clothing Messes
This happened to me so many times at the beginning that I would seriously pack the baby bag THE NIGHT BEFORE I went out anywhere. It was the only way my child would not have to be naked in his diaper if he pooped, peed or spilled food on himself again.
And ALWAYS have the baby wipes and bags to dispose of dirty diapers if they are disposable. My child always did a big poop at his grandparents, friends’ houses and such, so I never traveled anywhere without spare clothes, lots of wipes and bags. He would be relaxed, take a nap then wake up all smelly and cute.
3 Happy Baby Makes Your World
This is particularly true if you have suffered through watching your little one get sick, hurt, or struggle with something. When their little face lights up and is happy, you will feel joy that is unparalleled to anything else. No date, raise, book, article of clothing will bring you as much joy as seeing your little one settled and comfortable.
Parents often feel helpless watching their baby in pain and not knowing what to do. Most parents, will have their resources close at hand to consult about the problem and then get to work on fixing it. Babies will wait patiently until Mom and Dad take the pain away and then the snuggling they do against you is second to none. There is nothing in the world that can undo a parent faster for the better.
2 Parents Sense Baby’s Needs
There is that old saying about Mom having eyes on the back of her head to know what her child is doing? It starts at infancy. Moms will get up and feel the baby about to start crying before they do. It’s amazing. It’s like a psychic ability.
The more connected you are to your baby, the more you will begin to read her cues and connect with her. This in turn will bond baby and mother more. It is truly incredible. Most Moms sense when their baby is about to cry for hunger or needs a change. It’s important to trust this instinct as it is second nature and directly connect you to baby and baby to you.
No one can explain it to you, but when you become a parent, you will feel it from the second your child is born.
Tiredness, Frustration And Wanting Out of Parenting
At the same time, most parents come to a moment when the sleep deprivation, the constant care and the unpredictability of baby will drive them crazy and they will scream, "Take him/her back. I don’t want to do this anymore."
This is when, as my dear mother said to me years ago, make sure you are as ready as you will be. Nothing changes you like parenthood. You need to be selfless, energetic, happy, nurturing and still do other things like work, run a house, and slowly have your own life.
It’s not easy and many parents want to give up and regret “signing up.” If a parent catches themselves feeling this way more than not, it is time for a little ‘self-care’ and for the parent to have some TLC for themselves. They could ask grandparents, friends or a spouse if they need to be alone, handle the baby while they take a much deserved break from being a mommy or daddy.
After all, we’re all human and it’s only normal we need a rest once in awhile.
1 Crying Happy and Sad Tears
Ok, I was always an emotional person, but I have never felt such a range of emotions since the day I gave birth to my son. I cry with joy when he has accomplished a milestone, with sadness when he is hurt or struggling, especially if I can’t fix it. Seeing your child in pain is terrible, but the joy of seeing them succeed is amazing and nothing quite compares.
Every parent, Mom or Dad, feels this to a different degree, but your emotions change when you become a parent in all ways. You learn to find your emotional balance slowly as they get older. Then it’s on to new challenges for child and parent.
So there you have it. Hopefully parents will keep these in mind when they are at the beginning of their journey as a Mom and Dad and go easy on themselves. Loving their child and doing their best to be nurturing and responsive is the best way they can grow in confidence and raise a happy and healthy baby.