New Parent Surprises

There's no doubt about it, having a baby is a MAJOR life-changing event. Life as you know it is forever altered... in ways you've anticipated, and in some ways you NEVER could have imagined. So what has surprised me the most in the first 16 weeks? Some of my answers may surprise you.

  • Love at First Sight
Sounds like a cliche, but when they placed this goopy-covered little human being on my chest, my heart had never felt anything like it before. Of course I knew that I was going to love my child, but I was COMPLETELY blown away by how intense I felt immediately when I looked at her. I always thought parents exaggerated a bit when they said, "It's a love like nothing you've ever known before" but let me tell you that EVERY word of that is true. I love my daughter more than I ever knew it was possible to love someone. You won't know a love like this until you're holding your child, trust me on this one.

  • Overwhelming Doubt (and some horrible, but normal, thoughts)
No matter how much you love your child (read above) there will come a time, likely in the middle of the night, where you will ask yourself what the HELL were you thinking?!?! This does not make you a bad parent, this makes you a human parent. There were times that I honestly did not think I was cut out to be a mom and I couldn't help but wonder if I had ruined my life, my husband's life, and the life of this defenseless and totally dependent baby. Of course, these thoughts were followed by intense guilt because I know what a blessing it is to be a parent. But the first 6-8 weeks are seriously trying. You're sleep-deprived, your marriage seems to be on shaky ground, and you have this adorable but highly demanding person that you're trying to figure out. It's HARD and totally normal to question yourself. Don't beat yourself up about it and know that the cliched saying is true... this too shall pass.

  • The Marriage Dilemma
So here's an ugly little secret that many people don't talk about... the first couple of months with a newborn wreak havoc on your marriage. My husband and I bickered almost daily for WEEKS and I was seriously worried that my daughter would end up growing up in a broken home. I just didn't get it because my husband and I had been so happy and solid before, I was SO confident that we would make wonderful parents together! The ugly truth is that life with a newborn is difficult and it's going to affect things because you're both just so stinkin' TIRED. Sleep deprivation is NO joke and makes it really easy to get snappy and defensive with your spouse. In addition to being sleep deprived, you're both dealing with guilt and insecurity about your new role as a parent. This mess ain't easy! Luckily, you start to get some sleep at some point, you gain some confidence, things start to get a little bit easier, and then you'll find you're fighting less and less.

  • Surprising Choices
When you're pregnant, you'll find yourself saying things with total confidence... such as, "I'll never let the baby sleep in our room, that's what the crib is for!" or "I'm totally going to start the CIO method at an early age, mama needs her sleep!" I could give you a ton more examples but I think you get the point. Let me tell you: You will not know the choices you will make until your baby is in your arms. I was convinced that there was no way I could have our daughter sleep in our room. I knew every little sound would wake me and I just knew that getting sleep was way more important than anything else. Ahem. My 16 week-old daughter STILL sleeps right next to our bed and I don't see that changing any time soon. I find I sleep BETTER knowing I can open my eyes and check on her instantly without having to get out of bed. I would worry way too much if she wasn't instantly accessible. I have a feeling my husband will be disassembling and reassembling her crib in our room soon since she will likely outgrow the rock n' play she's been sleeping in. And CIO? I had convinced myself I could do that but absolutely not. Maybe later when she's a toddler and more aware of her actions but IMO, an infant is just too little for all that. Never would have guessed I would feel that way. Save yourself some embarrassment and keep mum on the absolutes until your little one is with you... I promise, your choices may surprise you.

  • The Quick Adjustment to a New Normal
I really had no idea how quickly we would adjust to our "new normal". I can barely remember what life was like before our daughter was here, though I vaguely remember a lot more free time and definitely more sleep! But seriously... we've settled into a routine with our little one that feels like second nature now. And I am so different about things! I used to be a hot mess at home (which is ironic considering how neat I am at work), but bringing our daughter home made me want to keep a cleaner house. While my husband and I are content to live in chaos, I don't want that for her. I'm sure the return to work will bring a return of the messy house, but I really do feel like my husband and I have adapted to our new lives. Night-time used to be about vegging on the couch, now it's about playing with our little girl and our bath and bedtime routine. We clean up each evening, and every morning, and we're doing this whole parent thing like we've been doing it for much longer than we have. While things are undeniably difficult in the beginning, you'll shock yourself when you realize how quickly you've really made the necessary adjustments.

  • The Acceptance of "Gross" Things
If you're like me, you may be worried about your dislike of all things nasty... like vomit and poopy diapers and anything that smells, or looks, disgusting. I had even joked about getting some disposable masks to wear because strong smells have been known to make me gag (I should tell you all about the time we had to wash clumped diarrhea off my cat's behind and how I almost threw up in the process). Be reassured: You will not find your baby's stuff all that repulsive. Yes, my daughter's poop can clear a room but for some reason, I find myself able to handle it, no mask required. And vomit and spit-up? I would wager that I smell a little bit like that most days and it's all okay. Like I said above, you quickly adjust to your new world that will definitely include some nasty and smelly things... but you really won't mind.

Being a new parent is truly a wonderful and amazing thing... you'll cry (a LOT, postpartum emotions are serious business), you'll laugh, you'll stare at this little human being you created in wonder, and you'll fall so deeply in love that you won't know what to do with yourself. When we brought our sweet Emmaleigh home, I couldn't sleep even though I was exhausted because I was so unbelievably worried about her. I would only sleep when my husband was awake so one of us could watch her. Thankfully, I outgrew that phase before we both went insane. You'll surprise yourself in so many ways and before you know it, you'll feel like you're getting the whole "parent" thing. Give yourself some slack in the beginning and know that the rumors are true--hard work is ahead. But it's the most rewarding work you will ever do.

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