When you get married, your parents, in-laws and relatives are eager for you to have a baby. When you are pregnant, people around you are so nice to you and eager for the baby to arrive.
Somewhere in all this, people forget to mention what it really is like to have a baby. Maybe because you don’t want to scare the already dreading pregnant woman.
Motherhood is beautiful, but it isn’t as glamorous as they portray it. It comes with lots of weight gain and the never-ending responsibility of tending to a baby. There is hardly any time amidst all the diaper changes, baby food and rocking the baby to sleep.
Here are some things I wish someone told me when I had my baby.
The newborn phase is the fourth trimester
“It is a time of great physical and emotional change as your baby adjusts to being outside the womb, and you adjust to your new life as a mum.”
If you think pregnancy is over when you give birth, oh boy you are wrong. Newborns absolutely need their mothers during their first three months. You become a human-sized placenta. Babies are so cosied up in the womb, receiving all nutrition, food and excreting thru the placenta that when they come out, they are completely clueless and need human intervention for every activity of theirs. They pee, poop constantly, they are constantly hungry and need to be fed; They need to be put down for a nap and won’t sleep anywhere else but your arms. Newborns don’t have any social cues like smiling or excitement, and it makes it difficult to bond with your baby who doesn’t smile back at you or even acknowledge you.
Sleep deprivation will drive you to the brink of insanity.
After birth, I was handed a newborn who fed off of me every two hours, when I was recovering from surgery. I did not get more than two hours of sleep ever since then. There was no night and day; I had to be awake at all times.
A newborn baby feeds 12 times a day. That is every 2 hrs in 24 hrs. This means you won’t get your whole chunk of sleep ever since you have your newborn unless you take shifts with someone (which isn’t possible if you are breastfeeding) or your baby starts sleeping more in the night (which will happen around 5-7 months).
I started having hallucinations at night due to not sleeping. I used to hand over the baby to mom, doze off, wake up and frantically search for the baby on and under the bed. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and is prohibited by geneva convention. Yet every mother goes through this and doesn’t complain as it is for their baby.
Now I understand why motherhood is so glorified; because it is utter suffering.
Babies have very strict wake windows
A baby’s day is 2 hrs long. It wakes up, feeds, stays awake and goes back to sleep and repeats this through the day. The wake window for a baby changes month by month.
If you keep your baby awake for too long, they get overtired and get cranky and cry nonstop. If you miss their feed, they get cranky and cry non-stop. You have to be on top of the clock all day long. See below how long a baby can be awake each month.
Your laundry needs will increase four-fold
You will be left to wonder how such a small human can consume so many clothes in a day. Burp clothes,waterproof sheets, langots, tiny shirts and pants, soiled clothes, bedsheets, you name it- your laundry basket is sure to overflow.
Cluster feeding and growth spurts
All of a sudden your baby will feed every one hour and it will drive you crazy. They are just going through a growth spurt and it will pass.
It may seem like the baby is crying all the time but they exhibit cues to communicate. They rub their eyes when they start to get tired. They start rooting when they are hungry. Thry look at your with wide eyes when they want to play.
Babies cannot put themselves to sleep. They are new to the world so they will need to be held close to a human. You will be rocking your baby to sleep or holding in your arms while it sleeps half the time. Read about 5S.
Have your support system ready before your baby arrives
It does take a village to raise a kid. It’s okay to say no to visitorsduring the initial weeks. It is hard to entertain people when you are healing and the baby is getting adjusted to the new world.
No one told me that growing a baby is a full-time job. During the initial few months, you will struggle to find time to maintain basic human activities like bathing and eating.
Things will get better
This is such a cliche but, things will change and light at the end of the tunnel is just around the corner.
I look at my mom and how chill she is and I look at all the women who gave birth and are happy, I wonder how they did it. I was angry why no one told me things would be so hard.
But around 12 weeks things started to change a bit. He started smiling. The fact that your baby acknowledges you is enough to keep you going through those thought nights.
Then his head stopped bobbing and it was easy to carry him. Then he rolled over. Then he laughed when I made faces. It has been a rollercoaster ride. How so many things can change in a few months.
There is a saying “Being a parent is all joy and no fun”. I agree with this sometimes. It has been a period of immense joy and pain. I love and hate being a mom. I am extremely sleep deprived yet want to spend more time with my baby.
Whatever maybe the rollercoaster of my feelings, I just love my little one to the moon.!!