If any of you follow Mommy Blogs, you've no doubt seen Jenny Studenroth Gerson's "They Should've Warned Me." It really is a beautiful piece about how transitioning into the role of mommy seems to have come very naturally to her and also touches on how her family's transition into parenthood was a relatively smooth one.
And while it is wonderful to hear all of the uplifting moments of motherhood and look forward to the good times....those amazingly beautiful times are often not what we, as parents, struggle with. Because of this, we don't often feel a need to talk about them with others. You see...if we're going to be honest about human nature... we need to feel like we have someone else in the same boat as us when we're upset/frustrated/discouraged/worn down. We need to feel like we aren't alone through our bad times. We need to know someone else has been there - That there is nothing "wrong" with us for having a rough time. That its not necessarily our fault or our own doing.
And while it may not be the most positive mind set, ( and I firmly believe that a positive attitude is so
very important in life) knowing the not so pleasant details of parenthood is important. Its important not to ignore life's difficulties. Its important for women and men to know its OK for things not to be perfect all of the time. Its important for us not to ignore the changes. And that change can feel like an uphill battle at times. So I tend to gravitate to blogs like "Mommy, for real." Its not all "doom and gloom" but it does depict the every day struggles for those of us just trying to conquer the hardest job ever - being a parent.
I think its important for us to support each other (after all... it does "take a village,") and allow each mother/ father to speak their own truth without it becoming some kind of weird competition of who is happiest or who has it the worst. Can we just BE? And help each other?
So here is my list of things I'm #SoGladTheyToldMe Most of them came from a former co-worker who was willing to share the nitty gritty with me without turning it into scary warnings (Yep, thats you Jaime! Thank you!)
I'm so glad they told me postpartum depression happens. The fact that I knew of others who had suffered helped me realize what was going on in the very beginning stages of PPD. And encouraged me to get help ASAP.
I'm so glad they told me it doesn't end after you have the baby. Pregnancy was not easy for me (or my body.) I had always thought you have the baby and thats it. Body feels better and goes back to normal. Nope. There is A LOT of healing your body needs to do. And this brings us to the next point...
I'm so glad they told me I wouldn't be able to use toilet paper for at least a month after the baby was born. Oh yes. Odd. A little unnerving. But knowing this (and the right sanitary pads to stock up on - Kotex or StayFree) allowed me to prepare in advance - leaving me a few less things to worry about after giving birth.
I'm so glad they told me its difficult the first few months. With social media running rampant and everyone posting about their baby bliss and new love... all of the lovingly beautiful moments are out in the open. But it is difficult. It is an adjustment. Meaning ALL aspects of your life change. Including your marriage/ relationship with your SO. And if you're like us...sprinkling in some [then] unknown medical problems of your child... can cause stress levels to skyrocket. My husband and I argued a lot those first few months. We got through it thanks to our love for each other, our son, and COMMUNICATION. Knowing that this wasn't unusual kept the "We can do this. We will get through this" mindset strong.
I'm so glad they told me it may not all fall into place instantly. You may not bond with your child instantly, breastfeeding may not come naturally to you or your baby, or you may feel completely lost with everything... ITS OK. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. Every parent has their own set of issues with each new baby. And even though its a natural part of life to reproduce, it doesn't all just happen. Instinct doesn't always take over and things don't magically become perfect or routine overnight.
I'm so glad they told me don't pressure yourself to get your pre-baby body back. Your job is to care for yourself, your baby, and your family right now. Don't worry about what size you are or how much weight you have to lose just yet. Your body just made another human being! Give it - and yourself- a break. And on that note...
I'm so glad they told me your pre-baby body may never come back. Its OK. Some people look no different after having a baby. Most do. Every body is different. I lost my "baby weight" but my body is still not exactly as it was before my son. My hips are wider, my bust is larger, and I gain weight more easily than I ever had. But its ok. And I am proud of what my body has accomplished and gotten me through.
I'm so glad they told me you may feel like you've lost yourself. This too is common. You may feel like you're not yourself or that you've lost the woman you were before baby. This will pass. You will find yourself again. Things will be different- YOU will be different- Your priorities will change, your interests may change...but you will still be you.
I'm so glad they told me to trust my gut. Is it woman's intuition? I don't know. But when it comes to my son I seem to have a very strong feeling when something is wrong or needs to be done. I listen to it. Its usually right.
I'm so glad they told me its OK to get the epidural ASAP. You don't need to prove how strong you are or how much of a beast of a woman you've become. That ish hurts. Bad. If you want the epi... take the epi and be comfortable. You've already shared your body with another human being. Epi or no epi... you're a beast.
I'm so glad they told me things will change. Your old life is just that... your old life. You don't have to give everything you once loved up. You can still be social. You can still enjoy the same interests. But the fact is... you may not want it anymore. Or you may want the new life with your child more. Either way... change is a natural part of life. Its not always good. But its not always bad either. Find a balance of the old and new and remember your old life wouldn't have lasted forever anyway. Change always happens. Whether we plan for it or not.
I'm so glad they told me you don't have to fit into some mom mold. You don't have to be the soccer mom or the businesswoman mom or the party mom. You just have to be your child's mom. And do the best you can.