I have a great group of Mama friends, whom I met online. We’re friends in “real life,” too, now, but since we are spread far and wide, our interactions are still mostly online. One day, one of them, a freshly-born Mama asked the rest of us a great, revealing question. We all know there are plenty of things that aren’t exactly like we expected or that we imagined would be one way but are a bit different, but she wanted to know about the things we didn’t expect at all. So here are my top 4 things I didn’t expect about parenting!
1. How Hard Co-Parenting Could Be
I love my husband – he’s a good man – but parenting together is so, so much harder than I thought it would be. Reassuringly, this was a common one amongst my Mama friends, too. Parenthood, especially the first time around, can be such a pressure cooker of emotions and expectations. As much as you try to prepare, you can’t know what it’s really going to be like until you are in the thick of it – and when you have two distinct individuals, trying to work as one to raise a third distinct individual – well, its just not always easy.
2. How Insanely Different it is When its Your Own Baby
I’m 7 years older than my brother and have been around kids/babies my whole life; I’ve been babysitting since I was 12, taught vacation bible school to preschoolers for multiple summers, was a mother’s helper to quadruplets all through college, and was not the first of my friends to give birth. I was also dying to be a Mom, feeling it through every fiber of my being. Yet, all that experience went out the window when Gwen was born. I had the knowledge; I had tools in my arsenal that others didn’t, but it is just different when it is your own. Each baby is different, anyway, but add into that the biological response your body has when responding to your own child, well, I was just unprepared for it.
3. That We’d Still be Breastfeeding at 3 Years Old
and 4. That We’d Bedshare (full-time for the “fourth trimester”, then part-time for a long time).
I knew I was going to be an AP Mama – it’s how I was raised, and it’s what I felt the most pull towards. However, before Gwen was born, I wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea of bedsharing, and it was only when Gwen proved that she had other ideas that my husband and I decided to give it a go. And while I always knew I would breastfeed, I didn’t realize how strongly I would feel about fighting past the mastitis, the clogged ducts, the supply dips to make it past a year… and how much Gwen would love it, to the point of deciding to keep pumping until 2 years, and wanting her to self-wean. I guess this boils down to the idea that before I was a Mama, I thought I would be the one with the answers; once Gwen arrived I realized that we would figure this out a lot easier if I let her be my guide on a lot of things.
What things did you not expect at all before you became a parent?
This article has been edited from a previous version published at The Connected Mom.
In sharing how they do things in their families, authors are not trying to suggest the same choices are right for you. Please consider the safety issues, and take all precautions when considering where your children will sleep. There might be increased risk for babies under six months regardless of how bed sharing is done. In such cases, a separate safe sleeping surface might be a better choice. Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, are nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis, or courses of treatment.