Learning On the Fly: Things That Surprised Me About Having a Baby

No, this isn’t necessarily one of those articles about the “things nobody tells you.” Honestly, what they say is true – no matter how many times people tell or “warn” you about various things coming your way when you become a parent for the first time, there are just some things about this unique experience that you just don’t get until you’re there. In many ways, we, too, are like infants in those early days, just trying to figure out our way around our new reality.

But reflecting back on my journey through new motherhood, there are a few notable things that I didn’t expect or weren’t what I thought they would be. Maybe they’d be surprising to you or, at the very least, you can laugh at how completely ignorant I was going into this despite all my best Type A efforts to plan and control everything.

1. I thought I knew. Keyword: thought. I obsessed over our registry. Researched products. Kind of got the nursery ready. I had (and, actually, still have) Pinterest boards about caring for a baby — sleeping, feeding, motor skills. I had all of my bases covered, people. But none of it really prepared me. It’s a great distraction and gives your hormonal, achy pregnant self the illusion of control, but ultimately, our beautiful baby girl was more demanding than I ever imagined possible.

2. Believe what they say about sleep. The lack of sleep when caring for a newborn who has no concept of day or night is no joke. Not only was our little angel waking every 2-3 hours, but she’d, then, be up for an hour or more and, because we were still learning what soothed her (and what didn’t), we’d be doing all sorts of theatrics — rocking, bouncing, singing, dancing — at all hours of the night to get her back down. But all that tired is somehow worth it in the end and there is no satisfaction like FINALLY getting baby to sleep.

3. New sheriff in town. It became very clear that this tiny, crying, pooping, eating little thing was the one calling the shots in our life now. No time to shower, brush our teeth or even so much as eat a bowl of cereal because our little darling hated containers (swings, seats, etc.) and couldn’t put her down for very long. Needless to say, my fantasies about a long, relaxing maternity leave went right out the window as I came to realize just how much work having a newborn really was.

4. What kind of mother ARE you?! Yep, I even surprised myself. I had no idea what kind of mom I’d be or how I’d feel or what I’d value. Turns out, I’m highly neurotic (big surprise there). I Google everything and I’m reading constantly. I’m also much less traditional than I thought I’d be. For example, I just assumed my baby would sleep in her crib in the nursery we created for her. Turns out, in real life, I much prefer to have her near me, in our room and, for part of the night, in our bed. This is just another one of the surprises that I didn’t anticipate, but wouldn’t have had it any other way!

5. The love. There’s no way around it. That inexplicable, consuming love that everyone tells you about is real. I could never have truly understood before having my kiddo, but I sure do now.

What surprised YOU about becoming a new parent?

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