It’s about to get graphic up in here…
I don’t know what I’m doing. So far my kids are awesome, so my hope is they continue to be. Now I just want you to know I don’t know shit about anything, however these little facts are what I wish someone would have shared with me before I had my baby…
It fucking hurts (a lot)
Until you’ve actually had a contraction there is no describing it. I had two very different birthing experiences as with William I went through hell and with Evan I was induced so it was pretty much a cake-walk. The thing about contractions is they trick you. At first (if you’re anything like me) you might think, “What were all those bitches whining about, my pain threshold must be way higher than theirs!,” but contractions are tricky little fuckers, the closer it gets to go-time the more they ramp up and make you want to rip out your innards.
The night I had William, we had a lovely Italian meal of pasta, garlic bread, and salad. That meal will stay with me for the rest of my life. You see, I knew I was in labour when I ate that however it was VERY early on as my “contractions” were about a day apart. Following that meal I went upstairs to shower and my water broke on our bathmats. I called down to Paul who accidentally walked through the puddle on the bathmats. In between hysterical laughter (me) and dry heaving (Paul) I reported to obstetrics at 11pm, was told I was only 1cm dilated and they sent me on my merry way (instructing me only to return if my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart OR if it was 6am).
Being the responsible little type-A that I am, Paul, Mom and I went over to the grocery store to buy goodies to take to the hospital the next morning. That’s when the contractions decided to turn it up. The sheer horror on the cashier’s face as I gripped the ledge of the grocery conveyor belt and gritted my teeth bent over was almost funny, if not for the pain shooting through me.
There are moments when you are a parent when your relationship with your partner will reach new highs. There are also moments when they will reach lower than you thought possible. You see, I thought Paul walking through my placental fluid (two times, as he forgot and managed to wade through it a second time) was as low as we’d get that night, but I was so wrong.
Once the contractions started getting stronger I couldn’t lay down so I would perch on the edge of the bed while Paul ran the clock. Every time a contraction would finish the pain was so overpowering I would vomit and owing to the baby bearing down on my bladder I would also pee myself. That meant in between my tears and my fear, Paul would have to run my peed pants and bags of vomit downstairs. On top of that he had the horrible job of breaking my heart each time I would pitifully ask “How far apart are they?”
While Paul got the frightened, meek woman in labour my Mom ended up with my rage. Each time a contraction would hit she would peek into our room to check on me. One such time she peeked in, following a contraction/vomit/urination bout and asked “Was that another contraction?” to which I replied (in what I imagine was the voice of a demon) “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK IT WAS?”
We had to endure this the entire night. At 6am we got to the hospital, I finally got some drugs and all was wonderful in the world when William finally showed up around 4pm.
Take the drugs, don’t be a hero.
My birthing experience with Evan was very different than William as I was induced. My nurse was also a freakin’ saint who made me swear to tell her as soon and I felt even a bit of pain, meaning once I said I was at about a 5, I had an epidural administered. The funniest part of having Evan was that while we were laughing and chatting during my time the lady next door had a mid-wife and opted to have her THIRD NATURAL DELIVERY. I get it, some women have this Mother-nature caveman blah blah blah stuff but on the other hand, I don’t fucking get it. Drugs are awesome. Please see the video I posted below if you’re considering a natural drug free birth.
They assume you know what you’re doing and you’re pretty much on your own once it shoots out
You know in the movies when you see all the babies lined up side by side in their little gender specific caps? That doesn’t happen. See, people started stealing babies and there is this thing called skin-to-skin where it’s really good for the baby to be on you as much as possible. Literally, it shoots out, they wipe him off, weigh him and check his APGAR scores and then you move to your room.
Alone. The two of you ALONE and unsupervised with the baby. Paul and I were in shock. We didn’t know what we were doing. We thought they’d assign an adult to us to make sure we weren’t total fuck-ups (which we kinda thought we were) but no, they just assume you’re competent and leave it with you. We awkwardly stared at each other and literally said the words “Are they fucking seriously leaving us alone with it?”
If you’re shy, you won’t be for long…
A lactation consultant comes in and starts touching your nipples and DEAR GOD WHAT IS COMING OUT OF MY NIPPLES? Why is she scooping this clear shit into a plastic cup and feeding it to the baby? Then a nurse comes in to push on your uterus like a ketchup packet (literally, you will feel the blood squirt out as she does this). Then you need to feed the baby and it’s so weird having it breastfeed for the first time. Also, when they feed it helps your uterus heal so again, you’ll feel that gushing blood.
At around this point your epidural will start to wear off and your catheter has likely been removed. You have to pee? Think of getting a papercut, think of squeezing lemon juice into that cut. Now, instead of a cut on your finger, imagine it’s your vagina and instead of lemon juice it’s your urine which is now like battery acid. So each time you pee you have to fill a squeeze jar with water ensuring it’s not hot enough to burn you and not cold enough to make you scream. Now you have to sort out how to pee while spraying yourself at the same time. This has to happen every time you pee. Don’t be a hero and try it without the squeeze bottle, you will regret it.
They don’t bathe the baby right away…
A baby is not a new car. That “new baby smell” doesn’t happen on its own. To ensure the baby doesn’t get too cold they won’t bathe it right away, which means it will smell like a combination of blood and placenta until it does. This is important to note if you have any family visiting, nothing was as awkward as having to tell my family member not to kiss the baby on the face as he still might have placenta on him.
They are going to take blood from the baby and your heart is going to break and you’ll understand the Mama Bear thing!
After the baby is born they won’t leave your side. Part of their newborn screening is a blood test. When they mentioned I had to take Will to get blood drawn I was curious how it would work since his little arms were so tiny. I sat in a recliner while the nurse laid him down in a plastic cot. Now, please keep in mind that I hold everyone in medical professions with the highest regard but this woman was a stone-cold bitch. Granted, her job seemed to literally be drawing blood from babies, which sounds like a horror movie but she almost seemed to relish in Will’s pain.
She explained to me that baby arms are too little so blood is drawn from the heel of their foot. She grabbed my little nugget’s food and as soon as that needle pricked him he started wailing. I gave myself an internal pep talk that this is what MOTHERHOOD was now and I needed to be strong for him. His blood seeped out at a glacial pace. She began squeezing his tiny foot trying to get the blood out. At this point he was screaming with such intensity I thought he might die.
Things I had read before having him were flashing in my head NEWBORN BABIES WHO CRY WITHOUT COMFORT WILL TEMPORARILY STOP BREATHING AND LOSE BRAIN CELLS….sweet Jesus, she was going to kill my baby. By now I had lost all semblance of composure and was sobbing along with him. As she continued to painstakingly knead his tiny foot to squeeze out blood, she nonchalantly commented to me (like she was talking about the weather) that he was stubborn and his blood refused to come out. NO FUCKING KIDDING. After what seemed like hours the ordeal was over and we returned to our room.
Later in the day my favourite nurse came to check on us. She look worried which worried me. She explained that the nurse who drew Will’s blood hadn’t stored it properly and the samples were tainted so the entire process would have to be repeated. Blind, hot rage came over me. Which only intensified once the nurse threw in that the woman taking the blood had requested that this time William come alone because it wasn’t in my best interest to be there.
As I said, Doctors and Nurses are selfless healers and I value what they do, however…that lady can go fuck herself.
Once you’re home, you’re going to feel like an empty shell...
When I was pregnant with Will I was like a glorious fertile mermaid. People held doors for me. People smiled at me. Some very brave (stupid) people touched my belly and said idiotic things. Then I delivered the baby. I literally and figuratively felt and looked like a deflated balloon. No one really cared how I was feeling. Everything was about the baby. I could feel the post-partum take over and I knew it was happening but I couldn’t stop it. Post-partum is like PMS mood swings turned ALL the way up. It was like I was floating above myself watching it happen but it was scary.
I remember 2 days after we got home I got it in my head that I was going to make my milk come in and pump a full bottle so I could sleep and someone else could feed Will. You see, family and your partner will volunteer to help you, but all you want is sleep and if you choose to exclusively breastfeed you are the ONLY one who can feed them. Every 2 hours. CONSTANTLY. So imagine the torture of getting into your perfect REM cycle and then a tiny urchin being forced on your (sore) nipples.
Back to my story, so I sat on my bed with my pump attached and waited. After about 30 minutes a small pool of milk formed at the bottom of the bottle. I almost wept with joy. I figured watching was bad luck so I leaned back on the headboard, shut my eyes and set a 30 minute timer figuring by then the bottle would be overflowing. 30 minutes later I excitedly opened my eyes and couldn’t believe that I had only produced 1oz.
Either way I was still excited and wanted to share this with my Mom and Paul.
As I tried to fasten my nursing bra I accidentally sent the bottle flying off the dresser and the milk spilled everywhere. I don’t remember the specifics but I remember I had a breakdown. I remember sobbing and screaming. I remember my Mom coming into the room and holding me while I cried and I remember her making a joke about there being “no use crying over spilt milk”.
That part sucked but what sucked worse was overhearing her and Paul talking later on about how worried they were. Their tone indicated they both were concerned that I might do something harmful to myself or Will. I will never forget that feeling. I’d like to say that cured me but I still would get really sad for a while. It passed but if you’re ever feeling it take over, talk to someone. It’s scary and hard being a Mom and there is no reason anyone should have to feel alone doing it. Speaking of…
It’s really lonely...
I love hearing Moms in the early stages talk about how their babies are great sleepers. Soooo stupid. Your baby will trick you at first. Newborns sleep A LOT. Once they get past that newborn part they might confuse night and day (Will) or suck at all parts of sleeping permanently (Evan).
The loneliest time in the world is 4am. I remember feeling particularly pathetic at this time because the man across the street would leave at 4:30am for work and I would look forward to seeing his headlights come in through the curtains.
It was nice knowing someone else was awake. At 4am you can’t do much. It’s cold and you’re tired and while there are probably thousands of other Moms doing the same thing you are, it won’t always feel that way. You will feel alone. You won’t feel magical and for me, you won’t feel “blessed” or “in love” which brings me to my next point…
You might not actually love/like the baby for a few months and that’s OK.
Babies are really boring. All they do is shit, piss, eat and sleep. That’s all. You will spend your days changing diaper after diaper and trying to get them to JUST FUCKING LATCH and they will just vacantly stare through you.
I know there are many Moms who talk about holding their baby for the first time and falling in love but honestly, while I cried and loved Will from the moment he was born I didn’t know him.
That might sound weird but he wasn’t really a person to me. He was like a little life-sucker and many times in those first few months I couldn’t understand why Paul and I had ruined our wonderfully selfish life for this sleep-deprived hell. I was the best Mom I could be those first few months but I remember just staring at him waiting for this all-consuming love to overtake me and it wouldn’t come.
I will never forget when it did eventually show up though. One painfully early morning the sun had just started shining and I could hear Will cooing to himself. It was a few months into his life. When I rolled over to pick him up he was actually looking at me. He wasn’t looking through me but at me and he had the biggest, goofiest gummy smile.
Even now thinking back I’m tearing up because I needed that.
I have many incredible people who love me, but I have never seen anyone look at me with such adoration. At that moment I fully understood what everyone was talking about and there hasn’t been a day since that morning that Will doesn’t look at me the exact same way when I get him up in the morning, and I look at him the exact same way.
Your life is now run by urine and feces, how much is he eating??
Breastfeeding is hard. Read all the shit out there, most Moms that quit do so because it SUCKS at the beginning. Not only does it ravage your breasts (see next point) but you have no way to know how much the little shit is eating because you don’t know how much milk you’re making so you have to count diapers.
Yup. In your semi-comatose state you have to remember to not only count diapers but also remember when he pooped last. On that note- feces, feces everywhere!
I will not buy second hand anything. Not because I am snooty or rich but because I know at some point there was baby shit on it. I know you can wash stuff and it’s good as new, but I just can’t handle knowing it was mostly covered in shit at some point! How do I know this?
Right now, there is baby shit on my duvet that somehow Evan left today. Have I changed the duvet? No! I am gross and will get to it tomorrow.
Evan and Will had opposite issues. Evan shits in uncomfortable places (like the Jolly Jumper) so shit shoots up his back to his shoulders. He does stuff like this pretty frequently, which is gross but at least he’s shitting.
Will as an infant had the opposite issue. He was always gassy and bunged-up so pretty pissed. One particularly rough night he hadn’t pooed in a while and we were worried. Paul and I consulted Dr. Google who informed us sometimes their baby buttholes don’t know they need to push out the shit so they get constipated.
All you have to do is lube up a Q-tip with Vaseline and pull their butthole open while squishing their legs on their tummies (like a tube of shit toothpaste). Paul and I rock-paper-scissored for position and he got legs and I got butthole. In unison Paul pulled his little drumstick legs into his tummy and I used the Q-tip to open his butthole. I’m not saying I’m a ninja but I somehow managed to fly back just in time as a projectile gush of brown sludge shot out of my baby, across the wall and onto the door, floor, and change table.
Paul and I dry heaved. Will laughed. Little guy was so happy he finally could take a shit.
YOU WILL NEVER BE THIS TIRED!
Remember when you were in university and took caffeine pills a-la Jesse Spano so you could study? Remember when you went clubbing until the sun same up and then went for breakfast? Remember when you would have sleepovers and stay up all night telling stories?
Remember those nights, remember that at one point you thought those things constituted you being “tired”.
You will not know tired until you have a baby. I thought I knew tired after having William. NOPE. Now I have Evan so it’s twice as hard. I literally have woken up, picked up Evan from his crib and placed him in the bed and not realized how he got there in the morning (!).
I have fallen asleep sitting up with Evan on the nursing pillow (one time, he rolled off and squeezed in beside Paul, when I finally came to and he wasn’t on the pillow I had a small stroke!).
To truly understand how tired I am ALL THE TIME please consider this list:
William’s bed, my bed (twice), the crib, the change table. These are all the places Evan has fallen off of. I am in such a stupor of exhaustion I have had to visit the emergency department (more than once) owing to these unfortunate incidents.
You would think once he fell the first time I would do a better job of being alert, but nope. Luckily I think he’s part cat because the last few falls he just kept on going. If you’re pregnant right now, SLEEP. Just sleep ALL THE TIME!
On that note…
There is nothing you won’t to get them to go to fucking sleep!
Nothing will gross you out if it gets them to sleep. Babies can’t blow their nose so if they catch a cold the best medicine is snuggles from you and breastfeeding. Here’s a fun exercise: plug your nose and try to suckle at something. Yup, they can’t eat because they can’t breathe through their nose. Get a snot sucker (not the electric one, which sounds like a jackhammer), get an actual tubed snot sucker.
Sleep training is a nightmare so honestly, just put them wherever they will sleep until you’re ready to actually deal with getting them to sleep well permanently! The list of reasons they maybe don’t want to sleep is endless but something that saved me in the early days is the stove vent.
Babies like noise at the beginning (because they're used to being inside you, listening to your heartbeat and internal organ noises) so if they won’t sleep pull a chair into the kitchen and turn on the vent over the stove. That worked with both of my babies and I spent MANY nights sleeping on the kitchen floor.
On the sleep note, you will also never sleep the way you used to because even during sleep, your mind will be listening for the sound of the baby; as if it's just a neurological change that happened on it's own...for some reason, it doesn't appear to happen to Dads.
You are going to feel the strongest LOVE and the strongest HATE for your partner, sometimes within the same hour.
Your mind and body are ravaged in those early days. I remember one day (I’m not particularly proud of) and I hope Paul doesn’t actually make it this far down in this article but…I actually visualized killing him in my head.
I had a really rough night with Evan where he would not sleep. He was up every 45 minutes for a solid 8 hour stretch 10pm-6am. I cried and I swore, at one point I yelled “What the fuck do you want” into his 3 month old face (not my finest hour(s)).
At around 5am, I was breastfeeding Evan, sitting upright with the nursing pillow and feeling shooting pains in my neck from fatigue, and Paul let out a small groan in his sleep. It was the sound of pure, deep, all-consuming restful sleep.
I stared down at his silhouette, highlighted by the slow creep of dawn and visualized taking a pillow and suffocating him.
I’m not proud of my murderous thoughts, I didn’t actually kill him so no harm was done, however…the following morning a family member saw me and exclaimed “Are you OK? You look terrible” - Paul, seeing imminent disaster, quickly stepped in “We’re OK, we’re both just really tired, Evan kept us up all night”…
Needless to say, I was fondly remembering my opportunity with that pillow and having second thoughts about my decision.
There are also moments that sneak up on you when your heart will feel so full that it might burst. Watching Paul in those early days with William was amazing, but watching him with William now is breathtaking.
Will is a tiny version of Paul so Saturday mornings they will head out to the garage and tinker. Paul takes being an awesome Dad seriously and he’s really handy. He built Will a tiny workbench to match his in the garage and even cooler, he custom built him a Star Wars room to get Will excited about sleeping in a “big boy” bed. He’s a really awesome Dad and Will idolizes him.
I hope I didn’t scare you but I just want you to know, no matter what you’re feeling, you’re allowed to feel it.
As Moms, especially Moms surrounded by other Moms who can’t get pregnant or who are doing IVF treatments or have faced other difficulties, it’s like we’re scared to complain because we’re SO LUCKY but that’s part of the problem.
Yes, I am very lucky that I had a (relatively) easy labour with my two beautiful healthy baby boys.
Yes, I am lucky that all it took was a bottle of tequila and me miscounting when I was ovulating to have Will.
I am still entitled to admit that I was ill-prepared for all of this and did not know how hard it would be. There are many MANY Moms who have it harder than me, who bitch less than me, and who are better people than me.
The thing is, I never claimed to be a good person, I’m kind of an asshole, and I will bitch and moan about what I want – and you can be an asshole and bitch and moan too!