Se7en things I Never Thought About Before Having a Baby…

Last month I got a chance to write a few baby posts in honor of International World Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I thought I wouldn’t have a chance to write about babies for a while. But I was pleasantly surprised, on The Adventures in Baby Wearing Blog, to discover it is International Baby Wearing Week. I know there are weeks for everything – but an excuse to write about babies is just perfect…

So Baby Wearing… it is. The last post I wrote about babies was all about Se7en things I wish I had known before I had a baby… well, well, well…

Well, I don’t know what on earth I was thinking when I was pregnant, other than getting through labour without medical intervention. I know people always say to me – Homebirths? Se7en of them? Are you mad? – No terrified of anything medical, just the smell of a doctors rooms can send me reeling. Little did I know that this was setting me up for a really good start with our babies.

So what was I thinking? Books and magazines have photographs of these cute babies being held by mothers in their airy fairy dressing gowns, or the mother sipping tea while the baby lies sleeping in its adjacent cot… and kind of floating around – never doing chores, you never ever see photographs of mothers and babies hanging the laundry or doing dishes… what do new mothers do? Apart from drink herbal tea and read magazines…

So here is a list of Se7en things I wish I had thought about before having a baby:

I never ever thought about the day to day – ness. You have a baby and you spend nine months waiting to meet this little human and absolutely everyone is obsessed with it sleeping. Grannies, midwives, neighbors, friends – everyone ask how they sleep. But what do babies do when they are awake… everyone is so thinking about sleep – but they don’t sleep for 24 hours at a time… I had no idea what babies do: Let me tell you they don’t sit on the mat playing with toys, they don’t even lie on the mat and watch mobiles – when new babies are awake they like to be held. In fact when they are asleep they like to be held too – I didn’t know that either!

I never thought about resting with a baby. I knew new moms were tired but I didn’t realize how exhausting the whole sleep deprivation thing can be! Think prisoner of war and every time you fall asleep they wake you up… Every time you sit down for a rest in the last few weeks of pregnancy your baby starts to play – guess what that is its rhythm… Once it is out there, thats still its rhythm. Only once they are out, these tiny little creatures has to deal with gurgles from within until now they have had everything on tap, so to speak. Now they have hunger and the whole digestion process to deal with. Now they have cold, now they have nappies, now they have general discomfort – poor little things, just days before everything was perfect! Hold the little thing – life is awfully tough for them!

I never thought about actually nursing. I new we would nurse, Breast is Best after all. I occasionally saw a mother nurse – pop her baby (notice I didn’t say infant) under her shirt and thats how it is done – reality check… there is no popping of a newborn under anything and expecting it to nurse – NO CHANCE! I wish I had been to La Leche League meetings and seen real mothers nursing newborns! Find your nearest group on their website. And the sooner you learn to nurse lying down the better. I couldn’t for the life of me, but gravity and fatigue one me over and I never looked back.

I never thought about going out with a baby. Other than every mother I knew seemed to pack for a year abroad just to get to the front door. After six weeks of battling to nurse with my first, we finally got it right only if I was on our bed and there was absolutely no one around to talk to to distract me from the task. The only place I thought I would ever go again in my life was the local nudist beach… Hahaha! I didn’t know that at six weeks there is a leap and suddenly you and your baby grow up together, nursing happens and mothering happens and it can all be done! And actually you just need a nappy/diaper and a change of clothes to get out the front door! And with every subsequent baby I have reveled in the first six weeks because they fly by so quickly and then your infant is gone. Infants need to be held, so do babies, so do toddlers – but lets just start at the beginning!

I never thought about how to deal with conflicting advice. I had endured pregnancy advice for nine months and thought I was home free – no! Everyone has something to say to a new mom – everyone… It conflicts, it confuses and it creates chaos. I wish people would say: what a lovely baby and move on! And I wish I had known who to turn to and it isn’t the local clinic! I had conquered the medicalism of pregnancy and escaped it – but I didn’t realize that going to the weekly clinic to weigh your baby was just another chance to step onto the medical train… The point is, they are there to solve problems: either your baby has gained too much weight this week – and you get the whole over feeding lecture; or your baby hasn’t gained enough this week and you get the whole you must supplement now lecture; or if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night give it some cereal in its bottle – myth warning – no study has ever proved that cereal in your babies bottle will help it sleep through the night. Babies don’t sleep through the night – they can’t!.

I never thought of the logistics of caring for a baby. I wish I had known that they do nurse two hourly and eventually they get better at it, but at first they nurse often and it takes ages! Their tummies are only about as big as their fist, for crying out loud. How long can that last? Why in the world must babies wait four hours between feeds when we can step up to the fridge whenever we like? When last did any adult you know go four hours without consuming anything? Which leads to another thing, I never gave a thought to feeding babies in general, when on earth did they eat real food and how on earth did you go about that whole project – never gave it a thought!

I never gave a thought to the reality of a newborn. When you see babies out with their moms – they are not newborns. When you see babies at the store, in a restaurant, at the library, unless it is a very experienced mother – they are not newborns they are a couple of weeks old and a couple of weeks makes a huge difference to the mother-baby pair!!! I guess I thought all my instincts would just kick -in… they don’t! For example, after a couple of weeks in the dead of night the father person asked me if I was going to feed Hood #1, who was screaming his head off in our bed and I said, who on earth is Hood #1 and what is he doing in our bed. I got it right eventually but really motherhood didn’t leap out instinctively and I really didn’t have any previous baby experience – I should have gotten myself to a local La Leche League Meeting.

It all just goes to show – there is a whole lot to think about before you have a baby, so get yourself to your local La Leche League where you can watch infants and mothers in action. Trust me, if this is your first baby then don’t just think about it!

I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.

26 Replies to “Se7en things I Never Thought About Before Having a Baby…”

  1. I really enjoyed your article, however, you need a sequel of the 1001 things I never realized about having a newborn with older siblings. For example, all the wonderful advice about sleeping when the baby sleeps goes right out the window! Instead, "Just get used to sleep deprivation"
    I would add that when they tell you "if you nurse correctly it shouldn’t hurt" may not be a true statement for everyone. (I find myself wondering if it is true for anyone) Maybe I did it incorrectly for 3-4 months with each of my 4 children! After 3 or 4 months I toughened up.
    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. I miss my newborns.

  2. You are so right about a sequel – why didn’t I think of that! Everything you know about survival with one changes dramatically for two and then again for greater than two and then you are so lost in the world of babies that you just kind of survive any new arrivals, all planning and thought goes voom out the window!

  3. Good post. I don’t agree with everything (i.e. some babies do sleep through the night, and they don’t all like to be held all the time) but you are certainly right that there are a million things we don’t realize before we have babies.

  4. You are so very right. I hope some new moms get a chance to read this. Especially as far as the advice and the breastfeeding. I was so bombarded with unwanted advice my first year as a mom that I became seriously depressed, I felt like I must not be any good as a mother if everyone felt the need to criticize all the time.

  5. The nicest thing about letting them sleep in your bed is that when they wake up in the morning they dash off and play and you are left with a few extra, albeit FEW, minutes extra!

  6. Isn’t advice terrifying – just when you really need encouragement and support… I learnt very quickly take what I needed and leave the rest!

  7. I wish I had read that before my little one. I felt a little overwhelmed and was embarressed to ask questions. I felt like everyone would critisize my decisions and judge me ya know.

    I did a post on things I wish I had known before I started breastfeeding. Please see if there is anything you would add if you have a few minutes!

    I hope you will follow this up with a post about adding a second child. We are considering that in the future and it terrifies me lol.

  8. Wonderful! I love your sense of humor, and just the reality of it. You’re so right. All those things were definitely true for us. I’d love to make my clients read this before Baby #1 arrives. (I’m a birth doula.)

  9. Yeah, the reality is a little different to what is portrayed isn’t it!!! Funny thing is, even from baby to baby we forget what its like with a newborn. When all your advice is coming from people who had babies two or three or even ten years before well the truth has long been forgotten – it really helps to hang out with mums of newborns before you have a baby!

  10. Great post! I especially agree with the breast-feeding one. I thought I would just hold the baby near by, and he/she would know what to do! Looking back that seems really ridiculous, but I had only ever seen a couple of moms doing it, and they made it look so easy. As it turned out it was never easy for me, with any of my kids, but it sure would have been easier if only I had known about La Leche League before my first!

  11. Hay S, Glad you liked this post too! Really why it took me nine months to find the La Leche League I don’t know!!! How much easier life would have been for all of us if I had just made the call sooner!!!

  12. Love this post too! After 14 weeks of the newborn stage (because mine were 8 weeks prem) I’ve decided I’m not a newborn person – I’m just now starting to emerge from the fog that is sleep deprivation.

  13. Hi M!!! After 14 weeks with my first I was still staggering around in shock – in fact 12 years later I am still overwhelmed!!!! – I think its a first born thing rather than a newborn thing!!! With my first a friend told me to write a sleep diary for a week… like a food diary, but for sleep, every nap, every snooze… after three days I quit because I realized what I thought was NO sleep was adequate (not a great abundance!!!) just adequate!!! But it gave me the confidence to keep going!!! Hang in there – it is still very early days for you!!!

  14. I love your site. Nobody ever told me how wonderful nursing would be. I decided to do it because it was the best. Nobody ever said how wonderful you would feel when baby #1 would just relish his food, or baby #2 would just look at you with adoration. I loved that part. They also didn’t tell me how hard it could be at the start (glad they didn’t) or that I’d finally get past the pain for baby #1, used to the exhaustion, healed a bit from the emergency C-section, and at 3 months he would grow his first two teeth, and learn how to use them as weapons at 3 1/2 months. Not always fun…but like childbirth, you can forget the pain. Like all things with kids…AMAZING.

  15. Hi M, Nice to meet you!!! Thank-you for a wonderful comment I loved hearing your story!!! Have a good week!!!

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