Nothing is more exciting and nerve racking than bringing your newborn home from the hospital. At first you can hardly believe they would let you leave and be solely responsible for that baby. How will you keep him alive without the staff monitoring his heart and weight? But then the excitement sets in as you start showing the baby around the house (as if they can see or care) and realize the rest of your life is about to begin.
In all that anticipation which you’ve had about nine months to build up, a lot of expectations have formed. They are built from things you’ve read online and the little pieces of advice people love to offer but somehow people never seem to keep it real. It all sounds so generic. Is it all true?
Expectations vs Reality
- Lots of sleeps (sleeping when baby sleeps.)
- Lots of crying.
- Unable to do anything for a while.
- Poop, everywhere.
After lots of unsolicited advice, my expectations were pretty standard. I was thinking about sleeping when the baby sleeps, preparing for lots of crying and expected to cleaning poop off of everything all of the time. Oh and of course the fact that your life will be centered around the baby as you’ll be unable to do stuff for a while because he has no immune system.
My reality did not look like what people set it up to be for the most part. When you read this, do remember that everyone’s reality is a little different and that’s the biggest error people make when telling “facts” about babies.
Things panned out to be nearly the opposite. The idea of sleeping when the baby sleeps is so wack. Why does anyone say that. Sure, maybe that worked when the average American wasn’t working a 50 hour week and a wife who wasn’t working but most people can’t just stop their day and nap at 10a, 1pm, 3pm, and 6pm?
When the baby is sleeping you’re probably catching up on housework, eating, pumping or you know, basic personal hygiene. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is a joke. Sleep when you can but mostly just learn to adjust to needing a little less sleep.
On the list of things people initially think when they hear baby is “crying.” Right? In the movies it’s hours of nonstop crying as soon as they are home from the hospital. But newborns don’t cry much. When they do it’s not for very long. They are easy to please. They want to be changed, eat and sleep. They don’t spend enough time awake to be upset for the week or two. Often when they do cry it isn’t a full on wail for a while either. It’s almost cute sounding.
Honestly until I had to start sleep training my baby, he didn’t loudly cry for lengthy periods of time. Crying will be different for every baby but generally, fix the problem and it stops so if you try a couple things you’ll find it.
Poop everywhere! It’s kind of the picture you get. But something I had NO idea about what that specifically breastfed (which I’m doing) babies can go as long as two weeks without pooping!! Why don’t more people talk about that?
If you didn’t know: Breast milk is tailored to your baby’s needs, so when you think about it, it makes sense. The milk is giving your baby what they need and not much more. Your baby can easily use it all up, therefore not leaving enough waste behind to pass it for a while.
Now when they do finally poop again, it’s huge. So big we typically turn it into a bath!
In my experience the biggest cliches were these scary obstacles I was waiting for… and they never came. I wish I hadn’t spent time waiting on it to happen. But not everything that I was told was garbage.
Things that were true:
- Every milestone feels like a big deal
- Breastfeeding is hard
- Your kid is a genius
- How fast they grow
- They are strong
- They bounce back fast
Anything that has to do with how you feel about your kid is true. When you don’t have a kid you really don’t know. It’s the feeling you get when looking at a puppy times like 100.
As far as I’m concerned, no one has loved a child as much as I love my baby, they are the smartest most advanced infant and they are growing too quick!
On a not-so-fun note, breastfeeding is hard. It really doesn’t look difficult from the outside but sometimes I swear I can feel all the nutrition and life leaving my body while nursing. It’s exhausting. It’s also garbage to say you lose weight breastfeeding. It doesn’t suck the fat away because you have to eat 500 more calories a day to keep your supply up. So if you are trying to lose your baby weight quickly, breastfeeding is quite the juggling act. On top of all of that. It’s extremely time consuming and can’t be delegated to anyone, ever. If you know someone breastfeeding, check in on them!
Have you noticed your baby is a mini hulk? They are wildly strong for their size and when injured, bounce back fast! You think your child is about to be traumatized from getting their 5 shots or banging their bobbily head on the door but seconds later they are fine. Even on a molecular level the bounce back fast. A cut on my face might take a week to heal and half the time they are gone the next day on a baby. They regenerate like crazy! Every bump and scrape seems to be tougher for mom than for baby. That’s the good news though. Baby’s are so forgiving.
Despite everyone having their own advice to give, there are still surprises along the way.
- The pooping
- How naturally it all comes
- Not minding the lack of sleep
- The determination they have
- The personality
- How many napkins/burp clothes you really need
- How fast their nails grow/how sharp
We already talked about the surprising poop fact. Still blows my mind no one said anything sooner. Aside from that I think I was most surprised by me not minding the lack of sleep but this is likely exclusive to me. Most people really miss their sleep! Quite honestly, as someone who doesn’t sleep well, my sleep schedule hasn’t changed much. My insomnia has been grooming me for motherhood my whole life.
I think I’ve always pictured newborns as completely helpless. And, really they are- but not in the sense that there isn’t a little person in there TRYING. I mean they try so hard to do everything. You can see it in their little faces as they scrunch up to try and roll over and slam their head on the floor after trying to lift it up for the fifth time. It’s determination I wish I could tap into when I’m not getting things done. Your newborn might rely on you to survive but there is absolutely a light on inside.
A random thing I was surprised by was how many burp clothes you need. I blame my husband because they are never where they are supposed to be. They are left in weird corners of the room so when you actively need one in the moment, it’s nowhere to be found! Plus you want to keep them clean since it’s on your babies face so you are constantly washing them. I recommend the Burt’s Bees burp cloths. They are soft, absorbent and well priced so you can get multiple packs.
Finally I just want to note that baby fingernails are insane. They grow SO fast. Plus their grasp reflex causes them to scratch their face all the time. Have some baby nail files handy because you won’t want to use clippers for a while on them.
My experience will probably be totally different from yours. I guess if I were to give dispense some wisdom to an expecting parent, I’d say expect less and prepare more. Treat everything like you’re in training. Practice, stay fueled, and have a team (whether that’s your partner, your family or a network of friends.) And finally advice that is never bad to give, find grace. In chaos, in naps, in “firsts” and in yourself.
Sending a little extra love to all the new parents coming out of this pandemic. You can prepare to be pregnant but not for the last year the world had!