When you’re pregnant with your first baby, you think so idealistically about how life will be after your little bean makes his big debut. How you and your hubby/SO are going to have this perfect marriage with this perfect little baby and live this blissful existence. And then your little man comes into the world. And you don’t sleep for three days straight and end up throwing fruit snacks at your hubby to wake him up from his
blissful slumber on a hospital couch because you’ve recently had a c-section and can’t actually sit up to put the just fed baby back into the isolette. And you start to realize that life with a newborn isn’t quite as blissful – or as easy – as it was in your dreams. Not that I have any experience with this kind of thing.
Ok. It’s not perfect. It’s great – most of the time – but it’s definitely not like the movies. If it were like the movies, you’d be getting eight hours of sleep a night, three square meals and several weekly workouts in – all whilst working full time, maintaining a full social schedule and looking like the perfect June Cleaver mommy of days past. Basically, you’d do it all and look perfect doing it. In reality, you’d need a full time nanny, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a personal assistant and an on-call beautician to make that kind of fake perfection work. So in my first year as a mommy, I learned to not worry so much about perfection and to instead worry about making everything work – for my family.
Part of this transition from idealistic dream world to smack you in the face real world involved learning that having a baby makes you argue with your husband quite a bit more than you did previous to your little bundle of joy spending half of his waking hours crying and needing your undivided attention. So to save you some aggravation – and headaches – down the road, let me tell you a little bit more about the five things you’ll argue about with your hubby starting the week you bring your baby home from the hospital. And I’m also going to give you some of the best advice you could ever receive: how to STOP the arguments from happening. I know. You’re welcome.
1. Sleep. I don’t know a single mama who hasn’t argued with her spouse about who got up last to feed the baby, who slept more last night and who’s more tired. But I will tell you this: at some point, usually towards the end of that first long week of parenthood, you actually lose track of how many times you vs. hubby got up last night. The baby cries, someone gets their ass out of bed and feed him – case closed. It really doesn’t matter who’s up more or less and who’s more tired or less tired. You’re both up. You’re both tired. Get over it.
How we got over it: I was on maternity leave. Ricky was headed to a dangerous job site every day. Because I knew that my hubby needed to be seriously alert on the job, I made it my priority to get up whenever Ricky woke in the middle of the night. My awesome nightowl hubby recognized that and let me go to sleep early – he would get up with la babe anytime between 8 and midnight. I learned quickly that OnDemand and the Pinterest app were my four a.m. best friends. I also considered buying stock in a coffee company.
2. The baby weight. It’s not what you’re thinking. Any SO worth his salt doesn’t actually care about the baby weight you’re working on working off. But YOU, my newly non-preggo friend, will. It’s only natural to not want that bread dough belly to hang around for long. It’s terrifying to look in the mirror and see this completely disproportionate version of your former self staring back at you. Seriously. And why would you ever fight about this? Because your hubs will get completely annoyed by the fact that you can’t get over it. It doesn’t help that everyone seems to think your weight is their business. Ohhh you haven’t lost much. You’ve lost too much. OMG you look soooo goooood – for being four weeks post partum! Ugh. You’re not supposed to comment on a pregnant woman’s body. So REALLY leave it alone post-partum (I’m a big believer in not making weight a main topic of conversation – because in my opinion, it’s rude. And boring to talk about). It’s just annoying. And it will come at you from every angle. Be prepared.
How we got over it: my hubby was amazingly supportive and didn’t give a damn about my freely moving belly. Being the one that couldn’t get over the fact that I did just birth a child – yet my belly wouldn’t simply pop back to normal – I wore a girdle. Not an old lady girdle. A Belly Bandit. On day three, I could barely get it to fit. By day five, I was wearing it 24/7 and could actually feel my stomach muscles trying to move back into place. By week six, it was way too big. It helped me gain my confidence back – because I didn’t jiggle when I walked – AND made my baby fat disappear quicker than it otherwise would’ve. And I ignored any and all comments about my weight – or lack thereof – with a smile and changing the subject.
3. The baby crazy. Trust me when I tell you that you will experience the baby rabies at some point. Everyone with a new babe does. It might be family, a friend, a co-worker, a distant second cousin once removed. I’ve heard it all, from the funny to the scary. They will want to be with you all day, every day. They will tell you how to care for your child. They will want to care for your child for you. It will drive you (and your spouse) crazy. So be prepared with a plan to deal.
How we got over it: I’m fairly bitchy, so once I figured out who was in it for real and who just wanted a baby fix, I just wouldn’t answer my phone. Eventually they move on to someone else’s kid/life. If they didn’t back off, I would tell them to. And then I would drop the rope. Problem solved.
4. Money. Unless you’re a millionaire, which most of us aren’t, at least not when we have our first little babe, you anticipate that money is going to be a little tighter with another mouth to feed around the house. What you don’t realize – and can’t possibly prepare for – is just how expensive that gets. When they first arrive, it’s a relatively small expense – mostly because EVERYONE AND THEIR BROTHER sends you baby clothes in sizes 0-6 months. And then you start realizing how quickly childcare, baby clothes, food, college funds, toys, car seats, more toys and all the other gear that you absolutely can’t live without with a child adds up. And there is just never enough dollars sitting around to cover everything that you could possibly put money towards. This can lead to big, fat arguments. So prepare yourself in advance.
How we got over it: One, I work – I’m not a stay at home mom. This helps. Two, we cut back. We go out to eat much less and learned to cook much more. I don’t buy oodles of clothes and shoes and makeup for my stores (although this is more because I don’t have as much time to shop than anything else). We shop in bulk at Sam’s Club. I watch for sales. The biggest piece to the puzzle is that Rick and I are on the same page with managing our finances. Without that, we’d be up a crick without a paddle, to say the least.
5. Hormones. I had a friend once tell me that it takes a woman a full year to recover from the effect of pregnancy hormones. I don’t really think it’s quite that long, but it isn’t a magical pop-out-the-baby-be-clear-of-all-hormones kind of thing. It takes time. At first, you’ll be so wrapped up in your little babe – and so sleep deprived – that you won’t realize that you can sometimes kinda be irrational. And then around the six week mark, you’ll notice that your lustrous pregnancy hair has gone back to normal. By week ten, your nails aren’t growing as quickly. Your period makes it’s big return. And at some point, you’ll start sweating. A lot.
My friend Mandi calls it the big purge – your body is slowing purging all of the remnants of your pregnancy make their way out of your system. For me, the pregnancy haze was gone around the three month marker. For some women, it lasts longer. During this time you will be sleep deprived. Going through body changes. Going through hormonal changes. Going through emotional changes. And the outside world looking in will just say that you’re “hormonal.” It’s much, much more than that – your body just produced an heir to your personal throne (you princess, you!) and you’re adjusting to motherhood for the first (or second, or third…) time. Not exactly an easy transition. And people will say “she’s just hormonal.” Internally, you’ll tell them to eff off every time. But…
Here’s how we got over it: I realized that I was not quite myself. And that was about it: I tried to be congnizant of my post-baby state. Sure, I lost track of my irrationality a few times. But more times than not, I was able to take a step back and think about things more logically than I would have if I just went with the whole, “I’m just hormonal” excuse. It wasn’t perfect. But it worked pretty well for us.
The first year of parenthood is a wild ride. It’s not easy – it’s actually quite hard. But we’re better for it: our relationship is stronger, our parenting skills are pretty awesome and we’re confident in being able to handle pretty much anything. And in one year post-partum, there’s one BIG thing that I’ve learned – and it’s actually become my mantra: you just need to learn how to drop the rope. But that’s story for tomorrow’s blog post.
Right now, though, I’m ready for a much deserved nap. Slash sleep. Slash mama is exhausted because her one year old was up three times last night and I just need my damn bed.
But before YOU go to bed, tell me in the comments: what were your tips and tricks for staying sane in the first three months post partum?