The not-so-secret ways that having a baby will change you forever
When people find out that you’re having a baby, they want nothing more than to share all of their pearls of wisdom with you. From your mother, to the lady standing next to you in the cereal aisle at the grocery store.
Some of it will be good, some of it will be bad, and some of it will be downright dangerous (no, weirdo at the gas station, I am not putting a little whiskey into my baby’s bottle to help her sleep… although I am not opposed to putting a little whiskey into me for, well, I don’t need a reason).
When people find out that you’re pregnant with your second baby, they are a little less liberal with the advice. There will still be the occasional random strangers that want to tell you all about their labor and delivery. However, most people will just say, “Congratulations” and move along.
You may also be lucky enough to run into those special people that will immediately ask you if you wanted a second kid or if this was a “surprise” (you can tell them to file that under beeswax, not yours).
I received a lot of advice when I was pregnant with my first. Advice, cautionary tales, you name it someone was giving it. I appreciated 99% of it, because as a new mother with very little experience with newborns, I felt woefully under prepared. Now that I’m on the other side of it (my oldest is now two), and I find myself pregnant for the second time, I feel slightly more prepared this go around.
That has left me thinking about the things that changed after I had my daughter, but specifically, the things that people left out. The things that they left unsaid in cereal aisles across my fair town.
So in honor of my second trip to the rodeo, here is the list of things that I wish people had told me:
- Your interests change. Before my daughter was born I watched TV and movies religiously. My husband and I could spend an entire evening discussing something we had just watched. And I was down for pretty much anything. Now, what I can watch is very specific. If there is a child or pregnant woman in danger, no thank you. Anything where a parent loses a child, that’s a hard pass.
- The things you are willing and able to devote your time to change. As I said above, TV used to be my life. Now I can usually squeeze about 15 minutes of a rerun of Big Bang Theory in between the time that my daughter falls asleep and the time that I pass out with my glasses still on. I just can’t stay awake that long. And when I can, I’m afraid to watch anything that I actually WANT to see because I know I’ll fall asleep before it’s over. I started two new TV shows this year that I was really into, Westworld and the Exorcist. I fell behind in both of them because some nights I just couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to finish an episode so I didn’t even want to start it. Now I am at least three episodes behind on each of them which means I have six hours of TV to watch before I’m even caught up. WHERE AM I GOING TO FIND SIX HOURS TO WATCH TV THAT ISN’T MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE?!?!? This also goes for reading books, going out to dinner, and sadly, shaving my legs.
- While you may not suffer from postpartum depression, you may still find yourself drowning in the “baby blues”. I didn’t even know that was a thing until I googled “symptoms of postpartum depression” when I found myself on the couch looking at my sleeping newborn and crying for no goddamn reason three weeks postpartum. I knew that there was a hormone surge after the baby was born, and I knew I wouldn’t feel quite like myself for a while, but I didn’t know that there was a step between that and PPD. I was so convinced that I had it that I brought it up to my OB at both my 6 week checkup and my annual exam that followed closely behind it (with all the credit in the world to my OB they sat and talked me through all of the emotions that I was feeling and gave me a list of things to watch out for).
- I did not know that I would want another baby so soon after the first one. I can vividly remember sitting in the hospital bed during my week long recovery after my daughter’s birth, looking at my husband, and telling him that I was going to need a good long while to forget what I had just gone through before I was ready to have another one. It was about three months later when I realized that I really wanted another one. It was about nine months after that before I started desperately wanting another one. Babies man, they are like potato chips, sometimes you can’t have just one.
- The farts, oh my god, the farts. I knew that after the baby came my body would be different. I knew that I was more likely to leak urine and experience full blown incontinence. What I didn’t know, was that I would become a virtual fart factory. Yes, a good sneeze/cough/jump would bring a little dribble of pee, but it would also bring rapid machinegun fire farts every.single.time. I don’t know why this happened, but when I mentioned it to a girlfriend shortly after she had her baby she confessed that she had the same problem. You’re not alone moms, you have fart-ners in crime.
- I want to comfort all the babies. All babies, everywhere I go. If I see a baby crying in the mall I have an overwhelming desire to go over and pick it up and rock it. And it came out of nowhere. One day I was like, “Meh, other people’s kids.” The next, I wanted to soothe the world.
- I feel a certain kinship with all mothers. I’ll see someone pushing a stroller with a child my daughter’s age in it and I wish we had some sort of secret signal or wave that we could give one another in solidarity. As if to say, “Hey, I see you. I know you’re in the middle of sleep regressions/terrible twos/potty training hell. I’m there too.” Instead I awkwardly smile, nod, and wonder if she goes home to tell her significant other about the creep she saw at Target today.
Honestly, I think the craziest part of parenting is that even knowing all of this, even remembering the sleepless newborn nights, and the horrible cluster feeding shit show, I can’t wait to do it all over again. Babies just have those precious tiny fingers, that sweet smell, and when they snuggle up in your arms sometimes the rest of the world just fades away… farts and all.