I remember it so vividly, those days before baby. I remember sitting in bed with my husband chatting about what it would be like when our little one arrived. We joked about the ridiculous things other parents did and laughed about how silly they were. We didn’t read any parenting books in advance because we were convinced that it would all “come naturally” and we would just know what to do. It all seemed so simple. Well, 6 months in and it is just as my mother said, “Being a parent is the hardest job you’ll ever love.” That being said, I have fully eaten my words when I said I wouldn’t do certain things once the baby was born. Here are three things I was most certain wouldn’t happen (and already have…more than once, in fact).
1. Co-sleeping. This is one of those things my husband and I laughed about before baby. He had said, “We’re not letting the baby sleep in our bed, right?” And I had looked at him, laughed and said, “Of course not. Where would we put him?!” Because, you see, we were already sharing the bed with our 50-pound dog. Well, somehow we were able to make room because on those nights when nothing else seems to work and I’m too tired to stand, let alone walk down the hall to the baby’s room, we manage to find a little room for baby in the bed. And I will never judge another mother for what she has to do in the wee hours of the night. You just have no idea what you will do until you experience months of sleep deprivation and infant screaming.
And to all those mothers who say if you let a baby sleep in your bed, you will never be able to get him out of it…well our little one now sleeps peacefully and happily in his crib, and we never had to even try “crying it out” (although I’m certainly not judging moms who do–whatever works for you and your family!).
2. Go days (yes, that’s plural) without showering, putting on makeup or brushing my hair. This is another thing I didn’t fully understand until after baby. Before the little guy, I couldn’t comprehend how a mother didn’t have time to take a shower. I mean, you can get it done in 10 minutes. How could you not have 10 minutes to spare?!
Yes, I could take a shower…or I could sleep. And 9 times out of 10, I choose sleep. And surprisingly, my husband would agree with me. I could either look fantastic and feel miserable or feel fantastic and look…well, a little rough. And he’d rather see me in sweats than have me yelling at him, the dog, and anyone else who comes near me.
3. Self-imposed isolation. Before baby, I had a weekly girls night, regular date nights, a weekly running club, and various other long-standing outings that I never missed. After baby, I began avoiding outings like the plague. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see my friends. I desperately missed my time with them. But to put it bluntly, my baby is not a traveler. He hates the car seat and car rides, so any trip with him is a test in patience as he screams his head off the whole way. Also, the little guy was only awake for about 2 hours at a time between naps. By the time I got all his things together, fed him, changed his diaper and got myself together enough to get out the door, it was almost time for his nap again.
Traveling with the little guy is finally getting easier and he screams much less. Now when we are able to get out the door to go somewhere, even if it’s just down the street to the grocery store, it feels like a vacation. I don’t want to be cooped up in my place all day, but for months the alternative was so much worse.
I know other people are reading this and shaking their head disapprovingly at every word. I might have done the same thing 6 months ago. But as I’ve discovered, you have no idea how you will feel until you are in the thick of it. As my friend Jade reminded me, we are all just trying to do the best we can in our individual situations. What works for one mother may not work for another. Some day the people who shake their heads may find themselves doing the very thing they most disapproved of. I have.