Are you pregnant? Trying to get pregnant? Considering one day that you may want to be pregnant? Here’s a handy guide of things they do not tell you about having babies, possibly because if you knew them you may decide to never have a baby.
1) They’re actually a little boring at first
Don’t get me wrong, I loved looking at baby M’s tiny little squidgy face and couldn’t get enough of his lovely baby smell and his milky breath and his adorable little puckered mouth, but you can only stare at even the most beautiful painting for so long. Sometimes you’re like, “Okay, this painting would be better if it were a movie”. And babies are fascinating to watch but honestly, I found the first three months he just didn’t do much. He’d lay there and be cute and I’d be all, “Aww, look at how cute he is” and then I’d try to read him a book or show him a toy and he’d just stare at me and then I’d turn on Ellen because what else did I have to do? I wasn’t about to fold laundry…
2) They are like tiny little rabid wolverines.
I’m not kidding. They come out of the womb with razor sharp claws, and they learn to use them very quickly. Now, of course you trim your baby’s nails so that he doesn’t scratch himself, but it became evident almost immediately that I was mostly trimming them to save myself. Babies don’t really know what they’re doing so they just like to touch and grab everything. That includes any and all appendages and exposed flesh. Breastfeeding is portrayed as this lovely, relaxing bonding experience, which it can be – sometimes. The rest of the time, it’s like having a cat in heat caught underneath your shirt. I spent months with my chest covered in scratches despite the fact that I was trimming baby M’s nails ALL THE TIME. Right now, I have a scratch under my nose from bath time tonight, where he simultaneously grabbed a chunk of my hair and my nose with his tiny angry baby claws and pulled my face toward his open mouth. (Oh, and not for a kiss, in case that’s what you’re thinking. His thing right now is biting any and all exposed skin. Which brings us to point #3)
3) They are like tiny rabid wolverines who then get teeth.
The biting. Oh the biting. I have toothmarks on my forearm right now because baby M is “exploring things with his mouth”. Except that he’s not. He just has two and a half teeth and loves to use them. We’re going through a phase right now (Dear Lord, please let it be a phase…) where he comes at you with an open mouth and basically bites whatever he comes into contact with. You think you’re having a nice little cuddle and then boom – your shoulder gets too close to his mouth and the little chomper has bitten down and isn’t letting go. I won’t shock you with the graphic detail of the breastfeeding incident, but suffice to say I almost lost a nipple.
4) They will have a schedule and do everything you expect them to do except when you NEED them to.
I swear, you have a week where the baby is asleep from 1pm – 3pm and so you know that you can plan such-and-such around nap time, and then the baby’s all, “Oh that’s cute that you think you can schedule me.”
I remember taking a 4 month old baby M out to meet a friend at a restaurant. I knew, because my baby is so lovely and predictable, that he’d fall asleep in the car on the way to the restaurant, since it was nap time, and I’d bring the sleeping baby, still in his car seat, into the restaurant where I’d have a quiet lunch with my friend. I had literally just finished telling her what an easy baby he was when he woke up (exactly 5 minutes after our arrival at the restaurant, or approximately 1 hour earlier than anticipated) and started screaming. I mean SCREAMING and there I am in Cactus Club trying to find my boob and get it in his mouth as fast as possible before the angry restaurant patrons stone us. And my super easily contented baby who ‘seriously will just happily sit on a lap for ages’ cried through almost that entire meal and I had to eat one handed while simultaneously trying to breastfeed the poor kid because no amount of rocking or holding could silence him.
5) No matter how good a mother you are, your kids will make you look like a bad one when it counts. Every. Time.
I’m a good mom. I know this deep down. I try to feed my baby healthy foods and keep him away from sugar, and he wears matching, clean clothes when we’re going out somewhere, and I bathe him regularly and change his diapers and am (mostly) patient and loving and fun. Except for, you know, when other people are watching. It just always seems like those times you’re being an exception to the rule that you suddenly have an audience to your less-than-stellar choices. (and for the record, these choices are usually not actually bad ones, it’s our own guilt that makes us feel they are).
Take, for example, that time I was out longer than anticipated so needed a quick lunch to prevent a melt down, so I’m sitting on a bench literally stuffing my child’s face with McDonald’s French Fries when that mom I know from play group who only ever feeds her child organic home made health food passes by and audibly gasps at my indiscretion. Feeding my son french fries does not a bad mother make, (I have done it several times since and he is still alive and well) but we’ve all experienced that feeling of judgement – whether real or imagined – from other people when we make a choice that’s different than one they would make. Just accept the fact that as you approach motherhood, you will find your real friends support you no matter what, and you can’t worry about what you think other people believe about your parenting skills. Your true friends are not going to care when you show up with a dirty kid in a poopy diaper and mismatched outfit. They’re simply going to say, “Oh yes, I know those days” and offer you some baby wipes, and maybe some wine.
Basically, kids are unpredictable, and that’s what makes them fun. Let them be who they are and let go of your preconceived notions about what being a mom looks like, and you should be alright. And when you’re not alright, that’s okay too. We’ve all cried into our cereal at one time or another – don’t worry, tomorrow will be better… probably.