This article is brought to you by the bitch that's going to tell it like it is. Me. Jennifer.
Jennifer Farrell: You are not going to like it. You might even be offended. That's okay. No one is forcing you to read this. But if you are a pregnant woman having your first baby, I strongly urge you to continue. If you don't, you will find yourself back here after your first month as a new mom crying "but you never told me how it really was!" I won't feel sorry for you! Okay, maybe I will. But only a little bit. After all, I tried to warn you and you didn't listen.
What you believe: Pregnancy classes will accurately prepare me for birth and my birth will go smoothly without any problems because I am prepared.
I'm warning you; the reality is that no pregnancy class on the face of the planet can prepare you for your birth. By 'your,' I am referring specifically to the birth you alone will experience. All the good expectations in the world, all the practice, all the training, all the breathing ... how do I say this with kindness? This is a business, ladies, in which a well-trained instructor sells you on the idea that you are prepared. It is a lie. Birth is going to be scary, hard, and painful, not what you expected and something you absolutely cannot avoid. I'm sorry if this hurts -- it's the truth. I'm not here to hold your hand. I'm here to tell you the things that your mom friends won't.
What you believe: Reading parenting books will prepare me for being a new mom and will help me know what to do with my baby once I return from the hospital.
I'm warning you; the reality is that you could read every single book on the market and -- given your luck -- you would have the one set of tits that spurts orange juice instead of milk. Alternately, you could be mentally prepared for severe sleep deprivation to find you have the only infant in the world that sleeps 8 hours a night. As prepared as these books make you feel, they cannot accurately provide you with any realistic idea how difficult those first weeks and months will be. The only advice that makes any sense in parenting books is "Sleep when the baby sleeps." That is the only useful bit of information. Period.
What you believe: Sleep deprivation is not/cannot be/will not be as bad for me as it was for my sister/sister-in-law/neighbor/best friend/cousin. I will not be affected as badly as they were and they might have been (possibly) over-exaggerating. I honestly believe it can't be as bad as they're making it out to be!
I'm warning you; sleep deprivation really IS that bad and if you honestly think you are going to be the one woman on earth who will never be sleep-deprived, you are delusional. Do yourself a favor and prepare yourself for it before it happens to you. Go online and Google 'sleep deprivation'. Read up on what sleep deprivation does to people. That way, when it happens, you'll be prepared for it. Otherwise, you won't understand the urge to accidentally 'drop' your baby down the stairs so it will stop crying and you can finally (finally!) get some sleep. I can practically see you rolling your eyes and thinking "it just can't be that bad!" I'm here to tell you to wake up! Where do you think the jokes about sleep deprivation came from? Why do you think it's used as a form of torture? Why do you think hospitals send new parents home with armfuls of pamphlets exclaiming in blaring capitals "NEVER SHAKE YOUR BABY!"?? I bet you're one of those women who see baby-murdering mothers on the news and wonder "How could a mother ever kill her own child?" Do yourself a favor and ask your mom friends. After they're finished lying to you about how perfect their kids are, ask them to tell you the honest truth. You'll be surprised that most of them have entertained the same thoughts. Am I scaring you a bit? Good. This is your wake-up call.
What you believe: Maternity leave is going to be just like a paid vacation. I get to sleep in, feed my gorgeous baby, take her to the park, and do some light shopping. Then, in the afternoon, I get to have a long luxurious nap. Maybe I'll bring her into the office? Maybe we'll go swimming at the community pool? I'll have lots of time to prepare a wonderful dinner for my husband. It sounds like bliss.
I'm warning you; it sounds like bliss because bliss, by definition, is a state of extreme happiness. It's unrealistic. If you are used to working as a professional 9-5er before your baby comes, then you have a taste of the kind of work you will be doing after your baby comes. Why? Because being a new mom is hard work! Maternity leave is not a paid vacation, unless you are being paid to vacation in hell. You will work harder physically than you have ever worked before and you will complete these tasks while suffering from sleep deprivation (like my friend Aimee) or postpartum depression (like Rebecca) or healing from a C-section (like Sarah) or suffering through 33+ stitches stretching from your vagina to your asshole (that was me!). You are going to run your ass off for your child who will cry, spit up, not sleep, urinate and defecate on you. All the things you normally did during 9-5 will seem like Child's Play (ha! pun!) compared to your new responsibilities. During the first three months, you think you're going shopping or to the park? You will be lucky to get out of bed and shower once a day. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, I'm only telling you the things we all wish our mom friends had told us.
What you believe: Colic is over-exaggerated by moms who want to scare you. It can't be as horrible as everyone says. I'm not even sure Colic exists, but if it does, so what? How bad can a crying baby really be?
I'm warning you; it's not over-exaggerated and it is as horrible as everyone says. Do yourself a favor. Ask to borrow a friend's baby or, better yet, get a recording of a baby crying. Now play it for 2 minutes. Are your nerves on edge? Now play it for three hours. Still think Colic is no biggie? It's even worse if you are the type of woman who believes that having a colicky baby is somehow your fault and you're ashamed to admit to anyone that you need help because you're suffering. You lie to yourself, trying to convince yourself that it's not really as bad as it is. I'm here to tell you, it is as bad as it is. There is a reason for the old saying "It takes a village to raise a baby". Think about it. I'm warning you, if you don't swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it, you will live to regret it.
I'm warning you; motherhood is the most wonderful, rewarding, heart-warming experience in the world. The first three months are as close to hell as you will ever experience, but once you are past them you will feel sheer joy that borders on bliss. There will be many, many moments every single day you have this same feeling, from the very first time you hold your new baby. My goal here isn't to reinforce how much you will love your infant because -- lord knows -- no one has trouble talking about that. Look, I'm here to tell you the truth, okay? These are the facts no one else will tell you because they don't want to scare you. I scare you because I care, because I wish someone had told me the truth, because I know (from experience) that we all go through the same things and maybe, for whatever reason, we don't talk about it like we should.