Friday, April 14, 2017

10 Things I Didn't Know Before I Became A Mom

While I did a ton of research while I was pregnant there were still so many things that I just didn't know before I became a mother. I was terrified that I didn't have the, "mom gene." It sounds cliche, but I truly believe that your instincts do just kick in. After a few weeks I felt pretty confident that no matter what P did, I would be able to deal with it successfully.

Nevertheless, there are still things that I am finding out each year that I didn't know before I became a mom. I catch myself saying, "that would have been nice to know before it happened." If you are about to become a member of the mom club then check out my list. Maybe you are better than me and you already knew a lot of these, or maybe you are like me and you were completely caught off guard.

1. How to swaddle a baby
I seriously had never even heard of swaddling before I started reading about night time sleep for infants while I was pregnant with my daughter. I definitely didn't know how to do it well. It took me several weeks to get it down, and by then she was ready to move on to one of the velcro swaddles. Do yourself a favor and learn this before your baby is born so you can get some practice in. Here is a nice diagram above.

2. If you breastfeed your period may not come back until you stop
I about had a heart attack when I didn't have a period after my daughter was born. Once I stopped the post partum bleeding I expected to have another period in 30 or so days. I didn't have my next period until my daughter was a year old and I was weaning her. My doctor laughed when I called and left a message thinking that I was pregnant again.

3. Newborns can have tylenol, but not ibuprofen.
I bought a bunch of medicines before my daughter was born, and when she started teething at 4 months of age I reached for the ibuprofen, and while reading the dosage I realized that infants cannot have Ibuprofen until 6 months. What??? Seems like that would be something the doctor would be sure to stress at one of those first visits. Tylenol only until 6 months! I never use Tylenol. I don't think that it is very effective, so I just didn't even think about it. Who knew?

4. Brush up on early childhood development
I'm a teacher, but I teach high schoolers. I have essentially no knowledge about what is typical or atypical behavior from babies and toddlers. ZERO. Therefore I was really stressed out that my baby was progressing too slowly. When one of my mommy friend's baby rolled over at two weeks, and mine did not roll over until 5 months--I thought for sure something was wrong. it would have been much better to read official articles on expected windows for milestones like crawling and walking BEFORE I had my daughter. Knowledge is power and it can save a ton of stress.

Now that my daughter is 3, I still find that there is so much that I do not know about her development. When I see her around other kids her age or I talk to her teachers at baby school--I sometimes get fears that her development may be lagging in an area. As a mom, we have a tendency to over react, and I am REALLY bad about that. I tend to take it personally when I shouldn't. It is just so hard not to. I find myself calling my mom (who has an early childhood degree and has taught 3 and 4 year olds for years) a lot with questions relating to P's development. Usually she tells me that I am crazy and that she is right on track. 

Sometimes I wish that there was a parenting class that you could take where they would tell you things to watch out for. I just feel like there is much more awareness now about cognitive and developmental delays, and I just don't feel like I would notice a delay even if it was there staring me in the face. I want to protect my daughter and support her in any way that I can, and these types of things scare the crap out of me.

5. Teething can cause cold like symptoms
When my daughter started teething and was running a low grade fever for a week solid--I rushed her into the doctor thinking surely something was wrong. I had no idea that teething can exhibit all kids of symptoms like congestion, and fevers. Who knew?

6. You are never out of the woods with night time sleep
I used to think that once you got your newborn to sleep through the night that it meant that they were able to consistently sleep through the night. I had no idea that you have to LEARN to fall asleep.  That it is a skill. I had no idea that she would continue to go through sleep regressions (didn't even know there was such a thing), wake up when she was overly tired, or sick. CRAZY.

7. That I would literally have nightmares about tantrums in public
If you missed my post on tantrums from Wednesday, then you can read it here. Toddler tantrums are my number one fear these days. Public toddler tantrums are my very own version of hell on earth. I knew that kids threw tantrums,  but having never remembered throwing one or seeing one myself--I had no idea the level of mortification that they can cause on the parent's part. Am I the only one?

8. Kids use car seats until they are 8 years old or 57 inches tall
I am all about safety, but I just didn't realize that car seats would be a thing in my life for 8 years. I don't remember sitting in one myself past 4, although I can't really trust my memories from that age. In addition I didn't realize that there were so many different stages of car seats. If I had I would have bought the Graco one that grows with them. I probably will if I have another.

9. How truly important a good support system is
I had heard "it takes a village" my whole life when it comes to raising kids. However, you just do not understand the true meaning of that phrase until you actually have children. It is so important for you to be able to take a moment to breathe. You need people on your side. Even if they are just someone to bounce ideas off of. It can make such a difference. I joined a Mommy and Me class when P was 2 weeks old. I still talk to a lot of those mommas. I am so grateful for their friendship.

Family is also so important. I want my child to have influences outside of her parents, and my child has her own little village of fans. It is so important to us and we could not do it without them.

10. There is no limit on love
I used to think that I knew exactly what my capacity for love was. I prided myself in being emotionally intelligent. I thought I loved deeply and fully. When I had P--my whole world changed. I no longer felt like I knew anything about love. She taught me that love means so much more. It exceeds exhaustion, frustration, grief, and anger. I love that little girl more than I love anything else in this world.

I occasionally worry that I would not be able to love another child like I love her. But the other night I was thinking about when I was pregnant with P--how I would worry that I might not love her. Thinking about how I feel about her now only confirms what she has shown me in her short three years of life--my capacity for love is endless when it comes to my children. Whether it was 1 child or 5--my ability to love would multiply with each one. I am certain of it.

I hope you enjoyed this list. I am feeling led to leave you with this quote:
"making the decision to have a child--it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body"
How very true these words by Elizabeth Stone are.

Happy Friday!

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