Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell Me?
As I was rocking one of my sons to sleep last night, I was filled with a plethora of emotions. Plethora? Who came up with that word? It sounds like a disease that you’d find attacking your nether regions after a one-night stand with a guy who used the pick-up line “Wanna come see my HARD drive? Heh, heh…I promise it isn’t 3.5 inches and it ain’t floppy”.
Anyway, yeah, I was rocking my baby to sleep and I found myself laughing (probably to keep myself from crying) about how much I’ve changed in the last few years, since becoming a mother. Most of the changes were what I expected but some were not. And it made me wonder why no one ever tells you the brutal honest truth about motherhood. I’m sure it’s for the same reason that no one ever tells you the brutal truth about childbirth. It ain’t for the weak at heart, that’s for sure.
1) I developed a deep, unconditional love for my breast pump. Both sets of twins were born prematurely before they had a chance to develop the sucking reflex. So I was introduced to the breast pump, as a way to still provide my little ones with breast milk (even the tiny amount that I had). I was attached to that thing morning, noon and night. I knew it was really bad when I woke up in the middle of the night while Cole and Bella were in the NICU and I greeted my breast pump with “Hello lover…let’s get reacquainted, shall we?” and as I pumped breast milk, I sang silly love songs to my pump, like “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right” and “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”.
2) The internet became my best friend for information on what was “normal”. I’ve googled everything from “is green, runny poop in a 3-month old baby normal?” to “how far does a baby have to puke for it to be considered projectile vomiting?”….and of course, “how freakin long does colic last?” and “is it possible to die from severe sleep deprivation?”
3) What I once thought was thoroughly and morbidly disgusting before I became a mother and swore on my grave that I would never do was suddenly no big deal. Like holding my child’s butt up to my face and sniffing to check for a poopy diaper (while in the middle of the grocery store), pulling the diaper out to see if there was poop and getting said poop under my fingernail, pinching off a snot bubble with my bare fingers, digging my finger inside my child’s nose to get that tiny booger that would keep making surprise reappearances every time he’d take a breath, catching puke in my bare hands so the carpet didn’t get ruined and, lastly, fishing for turds in the bathtub….with my bare hands before the kids could could get their hands on them.
4) While my expertise at diagnosing emotional problems in children might have been considered impressive at some point in my career, nothing could hold a candle to the expertise I developed as a mother. Like changing a poopy diaper in the middle of the night in a very dark room, using the nasal aspirator on a snotty nose in the middle of the night in a very dark room (although there was the one time I had to grab the flashlight because I was pretty darn sure that it was not my child’s NOSE I was aspirating), picking up a sleeping baby and placing a bottle gently into his/her mouth without waking him/her up (the infamous “dream feeding”, which played a HUGE part in all my children sleeping through the night at an early age) and strapping one baby in to a Baby Bjorn on my chest while juggling the other baby on one hip AND emptying the dishwasher AND talking on the phone all at the same time was actually easy.
5) Sleep deprivation takes on a whole new meaning when you have a newborn. Seriously, no one can prepare you for how much sleep you will be deprived of in the first 12 weeks.
Actually, the first 6 weeks were lovely. All the babies ever did was sleep. We’d have to wake them sometimes to eat, in order to keep them on the every 4-hr feeding schedule. Tim and I often would look at each other and think, “Geez, this is easier than we thought….they sleep all the time”.
Then they turned 6 weeks. That was the magic number and that’s when all hell broke loose. They NEVER slept….night and day. It was like all of a sudden they came to life and thought “life is one big party”. And of course no one tells you about all the stupid things you do when you experience lack of sleep. Like putting the mayo in the freezer without a lid on, putting the deli meat in the kitchen cabinet and then 2 days later wondering what that horrible smell is, remembering to lock the carseat into position in the car but forgetting to securely lock the baby in the carseat, getting in the car to go somewhere and then when halfway there, completely blanking out on where I was going in the first place (causing me to pull over to the side of the road and sob). Only to turn around and come home and then get a call from the dr’s office, wondering why I never showed up for the their 3-month appt (and sobbing because what kind of horrible mother forgets that her babies have a dr’s appt!)
6) At my 6-week check-up, my OB asked if I was suffering from post-partum depression and I said “no” because I thought having PPD meant you just sat around and cried all the time. No one told me that I could be suffering from PPD without all the tears. I walked around in a rage all the time, mad at the world, I didn’t cry all the time but when I did it was over the simplest things (like not being able to open a container of apple juice or because we had run out of Kleenex), I was tired all the time yet I could NOT sleep, my brain was on alert twenty-four hours a day and I was having panic attacks. I started suspecting it might be PPD when I began having disturbing intrusive thoughts about hurting my babies and fantasizing about disappearing into a cloud of dust every minute of the day. It wasn’t until one morning when I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs at one of the babies who had been crying for what seemed like an eternity, that Tim told me to leave the house to get a grip on myself and I packed my bags, drove to the bank and withdrew $500 with the idea of running away … far, far away. Thank God I came to my senses and that’s when I was introduced to Wellbutrin. Tom Cruise can just kiss my ass.
7) I second-guessed every little thing. Every decision I made I would end up second-guessing. Here’s a conversation I remember having with my husband one day:
Me: Do you think I should call the Dr. about this rash on Cole’s back?
Tim: Sure, it couldn’t hurt
Me: Well, I’m not sure I should call the dr. I mean, it’s not bothering him. He doesn’t have a fever. Should I just wait to call the dr if he develops a fever?
Tim: Yes, just wait.
Me: But what if it’s something serious and I should have called the dr. I think I’ll make an appt.
Tim: Okay, yeah, you should probably make an appt
Me: I don’t want to seem like I’m going to the Dr’s over every little thing. They probably hate me by now. I think I’ll just wait.
Me: What do you think? Why can’t you just give me your opinion, for Christ’s sake? Oh never mind, I’m going to call and make an appt. Hmmmm, maybe I’ll just call the advice nurse and see what she thinks since you can’t seem to decide on what to do …
8) Even though I had struggled with infertility and desperately wanted children, there were times when I found myself completely distraught, overwhelmed, exhausted and wondering why on earth I wanted children so badly. Yeah, I said it. It’s the ugly truth. You can never be prepared for how much children will change your life. They will rock your world, they will turn it upside down, and your life will never be the same.
After my first miscarriage, I listened to a friend complain about her two year old child who refused to be potty trained, and I thought to myself, “I’ll never complain about anything once I have children … I will love every minute of motherhood”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed at myself for ever thinking that. Unfortunately, motherhood is not all sunshine and roses twenty-four hours a day.
9) Even though I had my bad moments and still do, I certainly wasn’t prepared for how much love could fill my heart until I had kids. I loved my husband, more than the day I married him, and just when I thought there was no way to love another human being any possibly more than I loved him, my children entered my life.
And I thought I knew happiness … but the happiness I had in my life was nothing comparable to the happiness I have now, especially as I watch my four children play together and hear their laughter throughout the house.