Mothers have collective amnesia. Huge, common experiences (both the good and the bad) are not discussed, probably because the brain can’t form memories on so little sleep. Here are seven things I wish I’d known before I had a kid. But, um, there are definitely more than seven.
1) You will become post-sleep, and you won’t even know it because you’re so, so, so tired.
Here’s the thing: It’s not sleep deprivation that will get you when you first have a kid. You’ll probably still get a seemingly functional number of hours a day if you make it a priority and go to bed when your kid does (which, yes, sometimes means 7 p.m.). What will get you is being deprived of a certain number of hours in a row. So it’s not necessarily a lower quantity of sleep that kills you. Oh no.
After you’re over the shock to life and system that having a baby is, you’ll realize that even when you do sleep for more than two hours in a row, it’s also of worse quality. You may not dream for months. Or, when you do, they will be horrible ones of your teeth falling out and needing to save your baby from zombies or attacking vegetables with your friend Gumby and a friendly talking spaceship while pumas jump out of the soil like groundhogs (my brain is a strange place).
After you realize you hardly get any sleep and what you do get is shit, you no longer care. You will look older than you’ve ever looked and no product will disguise it. You will splash water on your face, pour another cup of coffee and face the day blankly, like a robot. But you will still find a way to smile at and laugh with your kid. Can a robot do that?
2) You will develop an iron stomach.
I am not going to elaborate, but among the poo and snot and barf, all of which you will catch in your hands, you will no longer understand the meaning of gross.
3) You will become physically strong.
If you didn’t know you were a powerful beast through pregnancy and birth, you will definitely get the message when you look at your arms after about six months of carrying around a progressively wigglier and heavier small human. “The beach is that-a-way,” you will say as you flex your biceps.
4) You will rarely eat.
Unless you have progressive parental leave laws in your country that allow two parents to stay home for a significant period of time, thereby allowing one take over cooking duties, you will eat shitty food like chicken fingers and baby carrots because you will have no time. After about six months, you’ll be able to prepare healthy food again.
5) If you’re breastfeeding, your newborn will always want to eat.
Seven to nine feedings per day my ass. Which leads me to number six,
6) Breastfeeding is confusing, uncomfortable and exhausting the first few months.
Fuck those idyllic photos of preciousness latched on perfectly while nodding off. Breastfeeding is all-encompassing and complicated at first. It hurts. It’s not easy at all. It becomes easier (and even really awesome) after the first couple of months, but even still… just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s great. You know what else is natural? Cancer. Arsenic. Radon.
7) Your kid will be a jerk and you will wish they’d never been born.
It’s true. You will want to put them back. Hit undo. Drop your kid off at the fire station. You will want more than just one measly beer. But then they’ll do something, the little manipulators of our heart strings, and you’ll be smitten again.
And then you’ll forget. All of it.