Now that we’re over a month into this whole parenting thing, we’re starting to understand Brooklyn and her needs a little bit better. While not everything is very predictable yet, we feel pretty confident in how to deal and adapt our own parenting style to the cries and fusses she lets out. I also feel like this is a good time to talk about the many things that have surprised me while we’re figuring out this new life of ours!
Remember…I didn’t read any parenting books (that was silly of me) and I hadn’t been around newborns, like, at all. And really, I don’t think you ever talk about these things with your mom friends or family until you start going through them yourself. Which is actually unfortunate, because maybe it would have prepared me a little bit better!
Or maybe it’s all in those books I didn’t read that uncover all those surprises for first time parents. Anyway…here we go. 🙂
I underestimated how rough recovery was going to be. And I was even mentally prepared for it, or so I thought. I felt pretty terrible for the first several days. I was slow, sore and swollen all over my body for about a week. It made being sleep deprived even harder. I actually didn’t even lose more than 5 pounds for about a week after giving birth. Which made no sense to me, but whatever. It wasn’t until about 10 days in I felt more like I was getting my body back, which was a lot longer than I really thought it would be.
I didn’t think I would get so frustrated and anxious. There are so many times I had no clue what to do, what the best way to do something was, or how to get her to calm down. And there are times this still happens. Especially when she won’t fall asleep in the middle of the night. It just made no sense! And I felt AWFUL for feeling frustrated about the situation, which made the whole thing even worse, because I then became frustrated with myself and the cycle just continued. I’d feel anxious about the whole situation too, and there were a LOT of tears for the first couple weeks. Kyle has been my rock through this whole thing, and I often told him how bad I felt for him because now he had two crying women at home to deal with. 😉 Even though we both have some moments like this, they are growing fewer in number.
I didn’t know how hard breastfeeding was going to be. It seems like such a natural thing…but it isn’t for everyone. I was told it should be painless if you’re doing it right. That just isn’t true. Having a vacuum on your nipples is in no way shape or form comfortable by any means. I ended up solely breastfeeding for two weeks before I decided I just couldn’t do it anymore. It wasn’t even that it was painful at times, it was so frustrating too. Obviously it was a learning process for both myself AND Brooklyn, but that was easy to forget. Then we got to a point where she just wouldn’t latch at all anymore, instead she would push away. I felt like there were many times she wasn’t eating enough, which means more feedings and less sleep for her and myself. Then I decided to pump and try the bottle, and she took to it immediately. Once I knew that was an option, I felt a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders and almost immediately felt better about our entire parenting situation. It was just too much for me to be alone with her all day during the week, and being the only person who could feed her. She ate strictly breastmilk for four weeks, then we started introducing formula mixed in so I don’t have to pump in the middle of the night anymore. I’ll continue to pump so she can get some breast milk until I just don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t know when that will be, but either way, it will end up being the best choice for my own sanity. And I don’t feel bad about that.
I didn’t immediately fall ‘madly in love’…and I feel like a wench for even admitting it. Until I read this article, which reassured me I’m not the only one. Let’s be honest, babies look weird when they are first born. When the doctor put Brooklyn up on my stomach, I was a little freaked out. She was purple, still covered in whatever babies are covered in and her face was kinda swollen. It was actually pretty much what I expected, but still strange to go through it in reality for your first time. Obviously I knew I’d love my daughter, but it wasn’t for a couple weeks that my heart felt like it was going to explode. (Ugh, that is so cliche. I am now ‘one of those mothers‘.) I think a lot of that was due to my own frustrations and anxiety about parenthood in general. Now? She’s the cutest, sweetest little angel that would never be capable of doing the things I did in college.
I didn’t realize how many diapers we’d go through. A simple one, but seriously…I had no idea. There were days we went through almost 20 diapers. I also had no idea that projectile poop was a thing. Which leads me to also be surprised at how much laundry I would have to do.
I didn’t know we’d be lucky to only be getting up once at night. I was told in my classes that newborns eat every 2-3 hours, and that you’d feel like you were always feeding your baby. I just didn’t really get it though until I was actually doing it. But at about two weeks, we started to figure out what time to lay her down for bed so that I’d only really be getting up once at night. I started taking a nap earlier in the evening around 7, then wake up at 9 to either feed her, or Kyle could feed her and I pumped. Then she’d sleep again for 3-4 hours, she’d eat, and we started out day when she woke up again. And apparently, at 2 weeks old, that is NOT normal. So I am grateful for that! Even though I was still tired from getting broken up sleep, I was still getting enough in the nighttime hours and didn’t have to try and nap much during the day. Now that she is 5 weeks old, I’m going to bed closer to when she does (Kyle typically does bedtime bottle) and I still only get up with her once before she wakes up between 6-7 AM. Even though I’m still more than ready to have her sleeping through the night, I know it won’t be too much longer that we’ll be doing 2-3 AM bottles. That said, knowing that everything is temporary is nearly impossible to remember when you’re caring for a newborn. It feels like you’ll be doing it forever!
There are sooo many other things that help you realize how much life has changed, that it would be too much to list here. Like how baby things get strewn across your house before you even realize it…but also how quickly it felt ‘normal’ to have a baby in the house. About a week in we both agreed that it seemed like a normal thing to have Brooklyn at home, even if we were both still struggling from time to time with parenting itself. (Or I should say I was struggling…even though Kyle was also sleep deprived at times, it seemed to come so much more naturally to him!)
And with all of these new things in life, we still wouldn’t change it for the world!
I’d love to hear about other surprises for first time parents! Who else experienced some of these?