Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What No One Told me as a First Time Mom

You've read What to Expect when You're Expecting. You're ready. You've got this. Guess what. Surprises happen. I'm not trying to be negative. If you know me, that is far from who I am. I just wish I had been warned about some things. Don't get me wrong, I did it a second time, and I'll be doing it a third time in a few months. Odds are, I'll do it again in a few years.

1. Don't expect to go into labor on your due date. Everyone is warned of this. This is obvious. You're told you full term could be as early as 37 weeks. The problem with this is that most 8 month old pregnant mothers hear this and are excited, and are sure they'll go early. What makes this worse is if your doctor/midwife tells you they think you'll go early, and you don't. That's torture. You should be prepared to go as early as 3 weeks, but don't expect it. Really. No matter how big you are, no matter how uncomfortable you get, don't expect it.

I was teaching when I was expecting my first baby. The last day of school was June 10, and I was due on the 24th. I thought, "How perfect, I'll finish school, then I can have the baby any time after that! Maybe even the day after!" I laugh at that thought now. Keep in mind I had gained 60 pounds and was miserable. After school, I was starting to get antsy. My midwife had told me it looked like I'd go early. My due date came and went. Another week went by with trying every labor inducing remedy (except castor oil). June 30th I picked up some castor oil, drank some, and went to bed. I woke up to the side effects at 4 AM. Then, consistent contractions! {Woot woot!}

All that to say, do not expect to go early. Be prepared to go early, but don't expect it. It could save you from getting depressed.

For my second baby, I went a week early. I whole-heartedly expected to go a week late. It was so much easier to expect the harder. Then, you're less likely to find it unmanageable.

2. Don't expect your water to break. It might. But odds are, it won't. It always does in the movies, I know. I think only like 25% of women experience this. With my second baby, labor was not as obvious. I had contractions 5 minutes apart right from the beginning. I was a week early so I thought, "Surely I'm not in labor. I just need to walk it off and drink some water." (That's what you do to get rid of Braxton Hicks.) After about a half hour, I actually got worried. Not every contraction even hurt. The doctor said to come in because they were close and consistent. I thought for sure she'd be sending me home. She did, but it was a few days later, and I had a baby in my arms. :)

3. Labor could take a while. At the end of my first pregnancy I watched the 19 Kids and Counting episode with their first grandson's birth. She was in labor for 11 hours. I told my husband after watching it that we could be in labor for a whole 11 hours! Wow, that's a long time!

My labor was 33 hours. Three of those hours were pushing.

My second labor was 11.5 hours. It went by fast because I was prepared for another 30+ hour labor. That labor was such a breeze because I had prepared myself for a much longer one.

4. You're not a failure if you can't have the natural birth you wanted. For my first baby, I was going to have a natural birth. I didn't even want an IV or anything hooked up to me. I could do it if I set my mind to it.

Well, turns out, I needed an IV because I tested positive for whatever that thing is they test at the end of pregnancy. Okay, that was manageable. Hours went by with contractions getting closer and closer. Thirteen hours into labor, contractions 1 1/2 minutes apart, I was talked into getting an epidural. Do you know what? I do not regret it. It was wonderful. Do you know what else? I had another 20 hours to go after that. There's no way I would've made it that long with those intense contractions by myself. With the epidural I was able to sleep for a few hours. Oh, it was so nice. I'm all for doing it naturally, but don't think you've failed if you can't. You're still strong. You just have limits. Odds are your husband would never go through any of that, so you're already stronger than him! I wanted to have nothing hooked up to me, but at one point I had 9, yes, nine, things hooked up to me. (Oh, and don't be scared of a catheter. I've had one with each, and you don't even feel it. {Yes, you may need a catheter. Another thing no one told me.} While we're on the topic, don't look at it before they put it in. Trust me on that one. Actually, don't look at anything they put in you-needles, tubes.)

For my second baby I planned on getting an epidural, but not until I felt ready. I wanted to labor naturally for a bit before I got one. That's exactly what I did.

You can still use natural remedies at home, and eat healthy if natural-ness is important to you. You don't have to prove anything during labor. You're pushing a watermelon out of an opening the size of a cherry. You're super woman either way.

5. Breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks. I'm friends with a mother of thirteen. I've seen her nurse her babies. It looks so easy and peaceful. How hard can it be? You know what? She's had practice. And when I've seen her do it, her babies weren't newborn.

Newborns are born with a sucking instinct, but that doesn't mean they know how to nurse. My first baby was diagnosed with a tongue-tie. She told me it'd be hard to nurse. (Turns out it wasn't tongue-tie, but a recessed chin, which made his tongue farther back.) I had to use a nipple shield at first. It was a rough first two weeks. Not only that, but it really hurts at first! Like really! Don't give up! The pain goes away, and then it usually becomes as easy as the veteran mother makes it look. It is also so beneficial! It only hurts for the first few minutes at each feeding. Come up with a way to deal with the pain. I used to stomp my foot. Some people hit their leg. After a few days it doesn't hurt anymore. So please, please, please do not give up. You made it through the labor, don't give up now. This too shall pass.

6. You still get contractions after labor. I know, right? That's not fair. When you nurse your newborn, you get contractions. It's all good though, because it helps your uterus shrink faster.

The worse news is that it hurts way worse with your second. Like, epidural-worthy. I even asked for one, sarcastically. This only lasts for like a day or two. Just be prepared. No one told me any of this.

7. You will still carry baby weight until you're finished nursing. Yes, they all tell you nursing will help you lose the weight faster. It's true. What they forget to tell you is that while you may lose it faster, you still keep the last 5-10 pounds until you've weaned. Trust me, it's mostly in your chest. You'll know what I'm talking about if you nurse.

8. Don't expect to sleep on your belly yet. Oh, how I longed to sleep on my belly again. This was going to be wonderful. Wrong. You are so engorged it's painful. If you're not on a steady nursing schedule, it hurts for a few months to sleep on our belly. I didn't get to until my first was at least 6 months old. With my second, I never pumped excess milk, and I strongly believe that's why I was able to lay in that position after about a month.

9. Do expect to be over-protective. I actually expected this, and I don't see anything wrong with this. You carried this baby in the most protective way possible, within the safe walls of your womb. You may have started watching what you eat right after finding out about your upcoming arrival. You want what's best for your child. Who doesn't?

We had to stop at Target on our way home from the hospital with my first baby. I had a receiving blanket covering his carrier in the store. I didn't want any yucky germs infecting my precious new baby.
Who doesn't love to see/hold/kiss new babies? When a mother brings her new baby to church for the first time everyone wants to love on him/her. Especially me. The thought of my new baby being touched by everyone just made me so nervous. I closely monitored each person that came close to him. I didn't think twice about asking the teen girls to wash their hands first. He wasn't a doll, after all.
My husband made a rule. No one under the age of 18 could hold our new baby while standing. Well, that didn't last too long. But anyways, new parents are very protective. I'm not even ashamed to admit that. Even with the second you're still protective at first. They have very pure immune systems. It's our responsibility to protect them.

10. Your baby will grow so fast, you'll wish time would stop. I've always heard {old} people say, "in the blink of an eye." You quickly understand what that means. Soon, your baby will be smiling, laughing, talking, teething, crawling, eating, walking, running, speaking sentences, wearing big boy undies, and you just brought them home yesterday. Seriously.

So, this is in no way meant to be a negative. I really did enjoy being pregnant and having a newborn. There were just a few things no one told me that I wish I was prepared for. I obviously did it a second time, and I will do it again this fall. It wasn't all as bad as it sounds.
A Little R & R

My Joy-Filled Life


  1. Just good advice! I was so unprepared for my first baby, and I thought I'd done lots of research! Sometimes you just have to live through it to understand, lol

    1. Thanks! It makes for fun stories, too sometimes.