Ahhh…. it’s 8pm on a Tuesday night, and I settle into bed with a book and next to me my husband lays down too and starts reading his book. We both have our night-stand lamps on and our PJs. We have brushed our teeth, flossed, and look very well-rested. About 10 minutes ago, our kids kissed us good night, turned around, went into their rooms where they now sleep, cozy and warm in their beds— they look like perfect angels as they lay there under tightly tucked comforters and sheets. There, they will lay until 630am when we start our day as a family, nicely brush our teeth, eat our breakfast, get dressed and everyone heads off to either work or school… did I mention an amazing breakfast that awaits us downstairs? Toast, butter, pancakes, cereal, and every thing just laid out so. Our utensils are out and near the sink, all the dishes are done and put away. The kitchen looks breath taking… ahhh…. the joys of life.
That was fiction – pure Hollywood fantasy. Every thing I am about to tell you is what they don’t tell you about parenting. And by “they” I mean the media and our own friends and family who sucker you into believing that life begins after you have kids. WRONG! Life actually takes on a whole new twist. Life does not end by any means when you have kids but it does feel like that for many parents on many days of the week. And, if you have just one kid, it may be a little easier than if you have two, three, four, or (ugh do I say it), five! As we go through this exercise in life, we tell ourselves every day is a new day but somehow, it still manages to repeat itself day in and day out… here’s what they don’t tell you about parenting.
You bring home your first baby and everything is exciting and new but you are exhausted from labor and delivery – both parents- not just the one who gave birth. In fact, everyone is exhausted including baby who is screaming because frankly, “she wants to be put back in!” Everything is great in the hospital – meals are brought to you, lactation consults appear at a whim, and you are constantly being showered with things- free cool things. Then you get home and everything sorta … falls apart! You get home and the nursing problems begin. Your entire life, you have been subjected to pictures, movies, and stories where kids just latch on the minute they’re born and nurse so well-yes, you guessed it! Fiction. 90% of delivering moms experience challenges, not just with nursing but just about everything! Nursing takes time, effort, work, education on how to help things along, and just plain patience. It requires waking up several times a night to feed and persistence. Let’s face it – it’s just hard from the day the baby comes home. For one, most moms do not look like the movie or TV moms – refreshed all the time, make-up on, and ready to sleep with their husbands from the day they return from the hospital. No! A real mom looks exhausted and probably hasn’t eaten in days. After delivering a baby, she wants to kill hubby rather than make love to him seconds after returning home. Oh, BTW, doctors restrict vaginal delivery moms to no intercourse for at least 8 weeks after birth- right- FACT! If mom is alone at home with a newborn and has no help or feels there is no end in sight, she may be depressed too and experience severe PPD. Yes, and it gets even harder with each subsequent child because there is another one at home needing her attention and assistance too. When one child goes down for nap, chances are, the other one will be up. A mom of multiples may get less rest than the one who has one at home. And, when she returns to work… well, that’s a whole ‘nother blog for another day.
Hollywood and our society would paint a different picture- the picture of the lovely family returning home and excited for parenting. The jewelry commercials at Christmas crack me up the most. There’s a mom looking lovely standing there at 2-3am in the morning nursing her child while hubbie rests in the next room… next thing you know, they’re exchanging gifts and gagga-goo-ing about how they’re a family. Oh please, like any “real” parents are coherent at 2am in the morning and excited about being a family while the baby screams her head off. Come on! What they don’t tell you is your child has gas, colic, or is just plain hungry. Or, and hear me out here- there’s the possibility that you just ended up with a child who will cry for the next five to six years in the middle of the night and you just have to deal with it and learn to feel “blessed.”
Conversely, there is a lot to be thankful for. If you made the choice to have children, then you will feel joy but chances are, you will feel the pain too. It is okay, for us parents to admit that it’s hard. It’s okay to say… “this is hard.” It’s okay for you to, on occassion, feel like you’ve made a mistake. That’s okay! Accept it and move on- if you are thinking of acting on that feeling, call a doctor and ask for help – call a friend or family member and make sure your child is safe. But yes, normal parents go through tough times and it’s okay. So, yes, while there are a lot of things they don’t tell you about parenting, it’s also okay to know the truth and feel the angst.
Check out the rest of the story in Part 2- it gets even better. I promise.