Babies are treasures.
Babies are also monsters that change everything.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love my own babies beyond measure. I love babies in general. My kids have improved my life and me as a person immeasurably so. The things they've wrecked, listed with scathing sarcasm in this article, have been countered exponentially by my children's very existence. In other words, these "cons" are outweighed heavily by the "pros," and the "things" mean far less than the little humans who ransack them. Obviously.
However, that doesn't make the realities of these disadvantages actually disappear. We still have to deal with these disasters on an ongoing basis, and it can be trying at times.
We all knew these things would happen when we had kids, but we didn't really know what they would actually feel or look like for us. And all of us held out naive hope that our family would be different anyhow. It wouldn’t be as bad as they say.
These troubles really do happen. You might really look in the mirror one day and not recognize certain parts of yourself. In some ways, parenthood polishes us. In other ways, it tarnishes. Children bring so much color to our lives, but sometimes we find colors in the crayon box we didn't even know were possible.
If you need a reality check today, a written form of birth control, here it is:
15 You Turn Into A Man
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Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic. But your new cocktail of hormones actually does give you some funky masculine features. You might notice a deeper voice, bigger feet, a bald spot, and a 5-o-clock shadow. Those are real side effects of motherhood (that didn't come with a warning label).
You can blame the fluctuating hormones for taking away hair where you wanted it (on your head) and transplanting it where you didn't (on your chin and upper lip). The estrogen dip after childbirth makes that lush pregnancy mane fall out by the handful. Meanwhile, the same hormones that gave you that lush hair also causes it to grow in other places.
Hey, I guess if we're going to sport a beer belly and extra gassiness, we might as well add some more features to help us blend in with our masculine sides.
14 Intimacy Will Never Be The Same
You might have loosened up down there, your sex drive has probably decreased, and you might look at your husband like you never want him to touch you again. Sex will never be the same.
Sex will also never be experienced the same. With kids, you almost have to schedule it rather than have it spontaneously. You always have to steal away for it, and when you do, you likely have a time limit. There are extra sets of eyes around now, so you can't just do it whenever and for as long as you feel like it.
But that's only when you actually want it. Your libido likes to take month-at-a-time-long sabbaticals. Sex is complicated by so many emotional, physical, and mental factors that getting them all lined up right is nearly impossible. Endless responsibilities can deplete every last drop of potential sex drive within you.
13 Every Pain Is Multiplied By Two
You don't just feel your own pain now, you feel someone else's too. Anytime your baby cries, you cry a little too. If you accidentally snip your baby's finger with the nail clippers, you feel like you've amputated a limb. Every time your baby has to get a shot, you feel more traumatized than if you had seen your own house blow up in front of your eyes.
When I say your pain is multiplied by two, what I really mean is your pain is multiplied by a zillion. Every hurt your baby feels, you feel multiplied. And you even start to look at your own mom differently. Suddenly you realize, if I have this much pain watching my baby fall from taking their first steps too fast, how much pain did my own parents feel for all the trials I've been through in my own life. And then, your pain triples because you're experiencing your own parent's pain too. Oh, the sensitized heart of a parent!
12 A Midsection You Don't Recognize
Stretch marks, diastis recti, extra weight, and pooch. Mummy tummy. Some days you wish you could go back and wrap your arms around the younger version of yourself and tell her that her tummy is perfect, because if you thought your tummy was flawed before you had kids, you will yearn for it afterward.
You probably have a master's degree in the possible procedures you could use to fix it. Smooth Tuck, CoolSculpting, ThermaLipo, Body by Thermage, ReFit, ItWorks wraps, and whatever else is out there. And even if you didn't already know what those were, you're looking them up right now, aren't you?
As you tuck your tummy flap into your leggings today, I want you to know that your stomach is an absolute miracle. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
11 You Lose All Old Friends
All your friends without kids slowly start creating distance once you're expecting. You're not so fun anymore in your puke-y, exhausted, over-swollen, ranty state. Once your baby comes along, you can't time anything right. The baby interferes with every lunch date you make, so friends start questioning your reliability. If you're the first one in your tight-knit group to have babies, the unexpected unraveling feels a little like amputation at first.
Even if your friends love kids, it's so hard to make plans now with kids in tow. Most of the time you don't feel like doing all the work to go out anyway. Diaper bags and snacks and jackets and matching shoes and and and... Forget it!
Planning a Friday night out is a rare exception now and will probably get cancelled at the last minute when your babysitter cancels, which your single friends are going to hold against you, and hesitate to call you anytime again soon.
10 A Bladder You Don't Recognize
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While you're pregnant, you take frequent pee breaks. That goes without saying as the baby uses your bladder as squishy plaything. But pregnancy and childbirth seem to take your bladder and squeeze it and wrench it into a whole new beast. Sneezing, coughing, and laughing are now some of the job hazards of being a mom.
It's going to require a lot of Kegels to get that beast back into an organ half-way resembling a bladder. And you probably know all about the procedures to fix that issue too. You look around and secretly wonder how many other women are wearing pads, just in case.
You have a whole new respect for businesses with clean, accessible restrooms. And you probably know exactly where they all are because between your own needs and your potty-training child's, you have emergency sensors for when your child makes that "I feel a poo coming on" face.
9 Consider Everything You Own Destroyed
All the things you've had for 20 years or more? Like guitars and plants and books? Yeah, consider them destroyed. Nothing is yours anymore anyhow. Your clothes? Watch them disappear as the various colored things that shoot out from your baby's body destroy them. Your jewelry? Every last necklace will be yanked off your neck by those crazy-grip baby fists.
In a few years, the perfume bottle collection and three guitars you had from when you were a kid will be mauled by your monsters. Balls will get thrown in the house, against your orders. Your children will use those guitars as step stools to reach the light inside the closet. Your grandmother's wedding ring will get dropped down the sink, even though you told your toddler to step away from the sink a bazillion times and thought the ring was safe. It's weird how you can have these possessions for three quarters of your life and lose them in half a second when your tot decides to throw a tantrum and throw a shelf to the floor with it.
8 You've Actually Considered Plastic For Your Furniture
Seriously, between the vomit, poop, urine, peanut butter, suckers, blood, boogers, yogurt and pus rubbed on every sitting surface in the house, life would just be so much easier if you kept plastic on your furniture until your kids moved out. Wouldn't it? You could just slip them off when you're having any visitors and make funny self-deprecating comments about the plastic if good friends pop by unexpected. "Yeah, I know it looks really cheesy, but we were going to paint the ceiling, and then we got lazy. We'll get to it one of these days." That way, you could save a little face.
This is another time when everything your mother or grandmother ever did suddenly makes sense. Those plastic protectors on your great-grandmother's wall hangings that you thought were so tacky now make you look at her lovingly, knowing she just didn't have it in her to keep up with all the dusting along with everything else, and you can totally relate. Unless you want to buy new furniture every year or somehow keep your kids immaculate and immovable, you have to do something! Plastic covers seem totally legit.
7 Overstimulated Beyond Belief
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The noises, the wiggling, the assaulting smells, the jumping, the constant "watch momma's." They never stop. Birthday parties make you want to smoke a little. The toys with assaulting colors and unnerving noises. Even a picnic in the park attacks you with sensory overload. Your senses are stimulated beyond belief. You'll never find tranquility again.
Once the baby reaches toddler-hood, they'll climb on you and never sit still. Oh how you just wish you could sit on the couch and watch a movie straight through without stopping 6 times for drinks, 13 times for bathroom breaks, 3 times for diaper changes, and 7 times to break up fights, not to mention the 11 times a kid sits on you, gets up and comes back again. It's a job hazard to lay on the floor because mommies on the floor are big fat immediate targets for every breed of animal and child to jump directly on her stomach.
Meditation isn't just something that sounds nice to do, it's absolutely crucial for your sanity to sit quietly by yourself once in awhile, unmoving, and think about nothing...until they find you.
6 Every Shred Of Privacy Is Gone
It's funny how your children seem to not care where you are all day or hide from you until you magically disappear into the bathroom. Then, suddenly the whole world is at your door with urgent messages from the President. The President would never contact you when you were working diligently at your desk or hanging your American flag outside your house. He would show up when you were mid-bowel movement with one that was stuck. It's just inevitable.
The bathroom isn't the only place that loses all of its sacred privacy. So does the bedroom--every kid walks in on their parents. So does your makeup bag--every kid wants to try something from in there on. So does your dirty laundry--every kid wants a ride in the basket. So does your secret chocolate stash--because there's some kind of weird instinct inside your kids that finds everything you try to keep hidden.
5 Ta-tas You Don't Recognize
One of the most unexpected side effects of pregnancy was growing areolas. Even though they were plenty big already, each pregnancy decided they needed to grow. So weird. So unnecessary. That's on top of the swollen boobies themselves.
Then breastfeeding puts your boobs under the wringer. They get stretched beyond what you would think is humanly possible, only apparently your idea of what's humanly possible gets stretched too. They get bitten, twisted, cracked, and generally put through hell.
So, when you come out the other side of breastfeeding, and their healthy plumpness deflates, you look at those droopers in the mirror like wtf. None of your bras fit right, so you have to buy a whole new round of them, even though you just spent half of someone's life savings on nursing bras.
4 You Feel Like You've Undergone A Frontal Lobotomy
Mommy brain is a real thing, y'all. Between the sleep deprivation, the brainpower deprivation, and the wonky hormones, it's no wonder we walk around with our shirts on backwards and inside out.
For probably a year-and-a-half after my second baby, I had a really horrible problem with loss of words. I kept having trouble coming up with the right words for things. Like "what do you call that thing that thing in the kitchen that you use to stir up batter?"
If you have legitimate fears each day that you might be showing symptoms of Alzheimer's, you've just been initiated into the mommy brain club. No, your brain isn't deteriorating. Your brain is undergoing a complete makeover and shifting its focus entirely. But you still might want to keep a thesaurus handy and write your address inside your underwear.
3 Sleep Deprivation
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You'll never sleep the same again. Even if you just birthed a good sleeper, you're going to sleep lighter. Tiny little cries that shouldn't even wake a mouse will wake you up from four rooms away. That is, if you even get to sleep at all, because you've been up all night, checking the baby for breathing "just one more time."
Every time someone visits and offers to let you nap, you take them up on it, but sit in your room with your eyes wide wondering if this person knows that your baby loves it when you stroke her feet or that the bottle needs to be held at a specific angle that only you can ever get right.
If you're breastfeeding, your sleep is in your baby's control. You can barely fall asleep because you're already anticipating the next feeding. Sleep when the baby sleeps? Maybe if your mind didn't run 12 million miles a minute and you weren't worried about every possible morbid scenario, you could get some sleep.
2 You're All The Seven Dwarfs in One
Some moms acquire allergies during pregnancy they never had before. Let us introduce you to Sneezy. Grumpy and Sleepy are self-explanatory and kinda go hand-in-hand. The sleeplessness makes you grumpy AF. You're very well acquainted with Dopey because of that frontal lobotomy you had above.
All moms become Doc when they have babies. They know their baby's medical needs better than the Grey's Anatomy book because they've read the entirety of WebMD, front to back. Bashful always makes an appearance when you're walking around in public (crap, my boobs leaked in Walmart....again). Once in awhile, you catch a glimpse of Happy peeking in through a window in the form of an adorable baby fist or a smile in their sleep.
We could probably add a few Dwarves too: Leaky, Greasy, Stinky, Weepy, Sappy, Coo-y, and Loose-y. So nice to meet you all.
1 Your Heart Is All Wonky
Okay, your heart definitely grows by a million percent when you have a baby. It gets stretched and molded and tenderized by that sweet little bassinet filler. I bet you never knew what your heart could do until you held that little baby in your arms. You're mystified by the way your heart reacts because you've never experienced this sensation before.
In a physical sense, your heart may actually be different after childbirth. If you're like me, you end up with heart palpitations that started during pregnancy and never went away. The 40-50% increase in blood volume and cardiac output during pregnancy causes the heart to work a whole lot harder. That's why your heart rate goes up during pregnancy.
This increase of blood flowing through your heart is kind of a metaphor for how the rest of your life is going to be. Your heart now beats for your baby. It grows and increases its output for your new child. It's true in so many ways: Your heart will never be the same.