There's something about a pregnant belly that makes other parents (dads included) feel the insatiable need to give advice. Lots and lots of (ahem, unsolicited) advice. Moms and dads love to pass on "words of wisdom" to expecting parents all the time, with tips on getting children to sleep or breastfeeding to "back in the day" stories from more seasoned pros. And friends who have already had kids especially love to weigh in on various baby topics.
Despite all the banter, you may discover that after giving birth there were still a few things that people may have left out. Some of what they leave out might seem like small things, but they would make for a deep conversation about the beautiful picture that is parenthood.
Other things left unsaid about new parenthood are surprising. While not all of these things have a direct impact on a baby's development, but they are essential ot helping parents understand their new role and life. So here are 10 things your friends didn't tell you about motherhood.
10 The Love
So cliche, but so true! They may tell you that the love for your child is like no other, but until you experience it yourself, you won't understand what that means. Until there's a little "mini you" in your arms, you won't know that feeling where your heart might actually burst it's so full, or the absolute sickening feeling you have when they fall down or run a fever, or the over-the-moon elation you experience when your child hits a milestone.
No one can ever describe that love. You have to feel it for yourself. And even then, you'll be at a loss for words. Holding your brand new baby in your arms fro the first time can bring about so many emotions. Best of all, those feelings don't fade over time, they only increase.
9 The Inner Mommy Bear
While you can imagine, before kids, how protective a parent must feel over their children, you don't really know about your inner mommy bear until someone crosses your own child.
When you witness a child lash out at your little one, and you suddenly feel like roaring, then you will understand. Again, this isn't something you can fully grasp until you've found yourself doing meditative breathing so that you don't instinctively yell back, "Hey, you started it!" to a 3-year-old in defense of your own child.
Get ready for those inner protective feelings to consume you. You'll be shocked how your personal hard hearted feelings you're used to reserving for grownups can easily be transferred to a small child. Definitely don't stop practicing your breathing techniques, because they're useful beyond labor.
8 The Poop
Yes, THE POOP! There's a lot of poop! In the first few weeks, a newborn could have two to five bowel movements a day, and as many as eight to 10, some experts say! That translates to a lot of diapers, wipes, washing of hands, etc.
Don't be surprised if you find that the first month or two of parenthood is consumed by putting something in one end and then having it come out of the other end at lightning speed. And be prepared - have several "changing stations" throughout the house, including the nursery, living room, etc, that are well stocked with diapers, wipes, washcloths, diaper cream, and hand sanitizer.
When anyone asks about what you do all day, you'll be tempted to tell them you're a professional diaper changer. In fact the speed in which you're able to change a diaper will become a source of strange parental pride.
7 The Sleep Deprivation
What's the number-one thing that people tell expectant parents? "Get your sleep now," and after you have the baby, everyone will tell you, "Make sure that you sleep when the baby sleeps."
It's all about sleep and it's all about survival. At the end of pregnancy, a woman is at her most uncomfortable, and will oftentimes find herself tossing and turning, propping themselves up to avoid acid reflux, frequently getting up to pee, and so on, so sleep is tricky before the baby even comes.
But try! Nap when you can. Sleep in when you can. And when the baby is born and is napping, forget the dishes and laundry and umpteen things you're pushing to the wayside, and try to catch some shut eye yourself. Lack of sleep means your overall mood could be affected (it could make the symptoms of postpartum depression worse), you won't have a lot of energy, and it can really put a damper on what's supposed to be a very special time in your life.
6 The Mess
As much as you're going to try and stay organized after your baby is born, it's not going to happen. There's going to be a lot of laundry (MY GAWD!! THE LAUNDRY), there's going to be a lot of dishes, and forget about things like vacuuming on a regular basis.
It tapers a bit after the first few weeks, but then they start playing, and then the toys (MY GAWD!! THE TOYS!!) And that's okay, because, truthfully, there's nothing like the time you get to spend with your little one. You can always clean later.
It's a matter of adapting to the next phase your baby is going through. The faster you adapt, the better able you be to clean, but seriously, anyone who would judge a new parent on how clean their house is isn't a real friend!
5 Dressing the Baby
It starts with choosing the, "take home from the hospital" outfit, and then there's no going back. Every day (or several times a day) you'll love pulling out and coordinating cute little outfits for your mini me.
You'll get giddy over accessories, and you'll love parading your stylish kid around town. Warning: Despite the fact that you'll always love dressing up your child, you won't be able to by the time they turn 2ish, when they develop that thing called "a mind of their own." Suddenly they'll be parading around in mismatched socks, unseasonably warm or cold outfits, and Halloween accessories.
And that's only if you're lucky enough to have a child who will leave their clothes on. Some parents struggle to keep their toddler dressed as they prefer to be naked and will strip themselves of their clothing the minute their parents turn their back.
4 Buying Toys
You become a kid yourself. You bring new things home for them and find yourself ripping through the packaging at break-neck speed so you can start pushing the bright shiny buttons.
Truthfully, the novelty of buying your kids toys never wears off. And you only have unlimited access to said toys when they're in your house. Another perk to having kids that your friends never told you about!
Not to mention the older your kids get, the better the toys get. From Easy Bake ovens to Play Stations, you'll love the cool vibrantly colored toys they play with almost as much as they do. And depending on the parent, maybe even more than they do!
3 How Much You'll Worry
You'll worry - about things that are worth worrying about and things that are not worth worrying about (but you still will). You'll find yourself walking into situations and immediately assessing the situation like a high-profile detective - where are the hidden dangers, the potential death traps, the things they could choke on, trip on, throw, etc.
You'll tell yourself not to worry so much... but only a parent understands: you will. Worst of all, it's out of your control. It goes back to the Mommy Bear who wants to protect her child. She's in there scouting the horizon for danger and ready to thwart any attack o her baby's well-being.
So if you find yourself ready to bubble wrap your child, don't worry, you're not the first parent to have thoughts about doing so.
2 How Hard It Is
You figure you know what hard is, tough is, but until you're actually a parent, you haven't ever really been through anything that will rock your world. You've never even scratched the surface of tough before becoming a parent, but you find out the day you meet your newborn.
Once that baby is placed in your arms and you get to know them and their personality, you'll quickly realize how much you wished you knew about being a parent. From struggles with breastfeeding to feeling overwhelmed, stay strong and by the sixth month things change drastically and you'll look like a pro to a new mother.
But it's hard. Like you-won't-know-till-you're-a-parent hard. It's completely all-consuming, day in and day out. It takes energy and patience. It takes work. And it takes a good dose of humour. It's really hard, and your friends could never fully convey this because you need to see it (and be it) to believe it. But you know what else? The number-one thing your friends didn't tell you about motherhood is...
1 How Rewarding It Is
There's nothing more incredible than watching your infant roll over by himself or herself, or take that very first step, or copy you and say their very first word (sorry mommies - it's usually daddy). Or when your child tells you that you're their best friend, and that they love you... you'll melt. Into a thousand pieces.
All that poop, and worry, and all those messy toys, will completely leave your mind. And you'll realize there's nothing greater than being a mom or a dad.