People are typically honest about the major milestones in life. Everyone told me to study and not party too hard at LSU or I’d flunk out and have to move home (gasp!). Choose a career that will make you happy but also financially stable. Marry for the right reasons and don’t marry too young. Travel, enjoy life. Save for retirement. For some reason, people are less candid when it comes to all the things you’ll face once you get a smiley face on the beloved pee stick. Granted, perfect strangers seem to have no problem sharing the details of their bloody delivery or why you must do X, Y or Z. I’m talking about close family and friends keeping mum about all the difficult things motherhood may bring. After having Jude and getting my sanity back, I vowed to be very open about my experience with any future mama who wanted to hear it. I highly recommend Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs and Baby Laughs books if you like funny, candid reads.
Taking a cue from Jenny, this is my list of sh*t someone should have told me:
- Your appetite once pregnant may completely change. After the nausea subsided, I finally started eating more but was disgusted by things I used to love and craving foods I otherwise wouldn’t eat. The idea of a whole, roasted chicken gave me the heebie jeebies. I craved things like bacon and boiled crabs, which I never really ate before. Eclairs I always loved, still do. No excuses there.
- You may become stupid and/or insane at times. I recall misplacing my cell phone during pregnancy. I called it from the house phone and discovered the refrigerator was ringing. Towards the end of pregnancy, I fussed at my husband for not surprising me with a chocolate éclair more often. After birth, I am not as forgetful or irrational, but I swear I am not as smart as I once was. Maybe Jude siphons my brain cells at night while I’m sleeping.
- Throw modesty out the window. Picture this: I’m spread eagle on a delivery table while my OB is stitching me up post-delivery. He’s talking to my husband about the Hornets game and my two nurses (whom I’d met an hour prior) are chatting with me about my toe nail polish color. The same nurses wiped my vajayjay when I had to pee. There’s no room for modesty when it comes to birthing babies.
- You may not have obvious signs of labor or even go into labor on your own. In my ninth month, I carried around a pad from the hospital to sit on everywhere I went. I imagined my water would break, I could fix my hair/makeup and leisurely head to the hospital. I apparently labored on my own most of the day before, barely making it in time for an epidural (I was 8 centimeters!). You can read my candid birth story for all those details. On the flip side, some of my friends went 40 weeks before having to be induced.
- Breastfeeding may not be all “unicorns and rainbows.” I wanted so badly to breastfeed and was only able to do so for 5 months. You can read my breastfeeding story Great new boobs and a mild panic attack to see what the experience was like for me. I recall telling a close friend how difficult it was and said, “why didn’t you tell me about this?” She replied, “I didn’t want to scare you.” Well damnit, someone should have scared me so I wouldn’t have spent weeks wondering WTF is wrong with me? If it worked for you and you loved it, great job! As moms we need more encouragement and more unity. Less boasting about the way you parent and why it’s the best and more open discussions to learn from one another.
- You may cry for no good reason. Our contributor Andie wrote a great post about postpartum anxiety, a topic women are really just starting to talk about. In the first few weeks after delivery, I would walk around the block and just cry. I could have sang “I wear my sunglasses at night” as my anthem when trying to hide the red, puffy eyes. I was immensely happy but also so sad. Luckily, it only lasted a few weeks but for some it lasts much longer. Know that you’re not alone.
- If you’re a working mom, going back will be tough. After weeks of little adult interaction and smelling like spit up, I was ready to go back to work. But when I sat down in my office chair the first day, I had no clue what to do. It was as if I forgot how to do my job and all I thought about was Jude. Especially when I took breaks to pump. As time went by, it did get better. However, I still think about him all day long, and as I said earlier, I’m still not as intelligent as I used to be. But that’s okay.
- Children develop and progress at different rates. One of Jude’s playmates was singing all her ABC’s by the time she was a year old. It made my husband and I paranoid that we weren’t working with Jude enough. My mom had to continually remind me, “Girls tend to speak sooner than boys and all kids are different.” It took me until Jude was two to stop worrying about how he compared to other children but rather just make sure he was meeting his milestones. Now he can dance and sing to Brass Monkey like a boss. I’m good with his development.
- Kids are gross. One afternoon I noticed Jude was chewing on something. I said “Jude, what’s in your mouth?” He replied, “I eating my boogies.” Well, that’s just awesome. All the hard work on this kid, and he’s eating his friggin’ boogers. My biggest ‘yucky’ challenge thus far is getting Jude to stop picking his nose. I usually refer to his book Yummy Yucky and tell him “Burgers are yummy, boogers are yucky.” It gets him to stop but it’s an ongoing process. What I’ve learned is all kids do it, so don’t worry that you’re the only one with an embarrassing kid.
- Being a mom is pretty awesome. Even though the first year and beyond can be challenging, I have never felt this way about anything in my life. Jude really is this best thing I have ever done and going on this journey with my husband made us closer. I think God has a way of helping us forget all the trying times and bringing only the magic to the forefront of our minds. I may even make another one.