1. Fear the sneeze. Oh yes people, mom bladder is a real thing. I wanted to believe I was one of the lucky few who would never be affected by this, but time and time again my sneezes and coughing fits from winter colds have proven me wrong. It doesn't matter if you just went or if you haven't had a drop to drink in hours, you better cross your legs tight and hope for the best when you feel that sneeze coming on, and dear God help you if you birthed twins.
2. Forget about those cute little outfits. At least while they're a newborn. Who.Really.Cares. You won't, trust me. You will be changing that baby too often and will find yourself loathing the outfit in the first place because it is just too damn difficult and time consuming to be taking on and off, so you'll settle for a sleeper instead. And that super, super cute outfit you've been waiting months to dress that little cutie in? As soon as you get it on they will spit up or poop on it. So just forget the cutesie little outfits for a few months and leave that kid in their pajamas all day. No one will blame you.
3. Middle of the night cuddle sessions are not magical. You know those diaper commercials where the mom is standing in the moon light of her baby nursery, swaying slowly with her little one while smiling down at their adorable little face? So peaceful. So beautiful. So full of crap. You are going to be exhausted and you will plop down in your recliner and pray and pray that baby falls back asleep quickly, and deeply, so you can get back to your own restful slumber. Don't get me wrong, it has the potential to be a great bonding moment between mommy and baby, but for the most part, you would just rather save it for morning when you've both had a full night sleep. But then.....
4. You will never really sleep again. But not because your baby is doing anything to keep you awake. Your ears are constantly listening, and your eyes will stare at that baby monitor looking for movements or straining to hear a breath. When you wake up at 2 a.m. to go to the bathroom (and you will, see #1), you will peek in on that little one, feel their warm little hand in yours and stand there for approximately 20 minutes before realizing you're wasting precious sleeping minutes.
5. You don't mind waking up early. I don't know about you, but P is happiest first thing in the morning. She is smiling and cooing and giggling and will sit still on my lap and cuddle for about 15-20 minutes before she gets squirmy and wants to play. I don't get those moments at any other time of the day with her, unless she's unconcious. So morning time is the best time.
6. You can look normal again. I was instilled with the fear that I will continue to look pregnant for the next 5-6 months after giving birth, but I will tell you that two weeks after having P I looked pretty similar to what I did before getting pregnant. However, I must also add I was not a skinny minnie before getting pregnant either, so don't think I have some super flat stomach chiseled out with a six pack. But I am just as doughy looking after as I was before, and I honestly don't mind that. I am actually down 7 pounds from my pre-preggo weight already. Which brings me to my next point....
7. There is no excuse not to eat healthy and exercise. This is my biggest pet peeve with new moms. They claim they have no time to eat a healthy meal or exercise. On top of that, people almost encourage new moms to be lazy. Um, no. Eat an apple, strap that baby into the stroller and walk around the block a few times. If you are still in your first six weeks I will give you a free pass, but if your child is 3 and you are still telling people you are carrying baby weight while shoving your face full of Big Mac's, that's on you. Don't blame your baby for your unhealthy lifestyle. My favorite is involving P in my workouts. I will lay her on the ground and do planks or push ups over her, or hold her in the air while I do sit ups. She thinks it's a great game I'm playing, we're bonding, and I'm building muscle. Win-win-win. And when your kids are older? Run around the yard with them. Go on walks. Go on bike rides. Please don't make excuses. There are none.
8. When your baby starts talking at you, it's the most beautiful sound in the world. I used to think kids were annoying. Most of them still are. But when P started cooing and making sounds at me, I swear my heart melts. Every time. It's the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. No one ever told me that the sounds I find completely headache-worthy from other kids I wouldn't be able to get enough of out of my own. It's adorable.
9. Life isn't that much harder. When P was two days old we had to bring her back to the doctor. My doctor warned us how hard it is to get out of the house with a newborn, so to make sure we're up early and plan lots of time to get to the clinic.....we were there 20 minutes early. So boring. Pack a bottle, some diapers and an extra onesie. Deal with everything else once at said destination. Leaving the house takes just as much time and is really not much more inconvenient than before, with the exception of lugging around that awkward car seat. It does not take us hours to get ready and I don't stress about it. In fact, I itch to get out of the house with P on weekends. I love taking her places!
10. You will want your baby to grow up, yet stay small forever, all at the same time. When I was first diagnosed with PPD, I just wanted P to be 15 and self-sufficient. Now, I want her to be 3 weeks old again so I can cuddle her and hold her any way I want while she sleeps in my arms, but I also want her to be 3 years old so I can take her places like the zoo and have her understand what they are. I want to teach her things, but want her to stay small and shield her from the world at the same time. I want her to experience and have joyous moments, but I want her to rely on me and cling to my shoulder. It's a vicious cycle.
11. You are capable of having conversations NOT about your baby. All my friends warned me that once I had a baby that's all I would talk about. Not so much. I hold plenty of conversations about other things on a daily basis. I don't show off baby pictures everywhere I go. I don't brag to everyone about how cute and amazing she is. Just meet her, you'll see, you won't need me to tell you. Of course she comes up in conversation, but I don't revolve an entire hang out session on diapers and formula and sleeping and baby milestones....I'm an adult. I have other things going on. I don't need to burden my friends. That's what Hubs and my family are for.
So there you have it, the 11 things I have learned after having a baby that I wish someone had told me before. As crazy as it sounds, I worried about these things when I was pregnant. Everyone FREAKED ME OUT! But everyone was wrong. And my list might be different from yours, maybe 100% different from yours, but rest assured that everyone (even me, but probably not) are wrong about what your life will be like after that first baby. Worry, don't worry, everything will be fine. Eventually. And if not, that's what wine is for.