What surprised you most about becoming a parent?(87 Posts)
Or did your expectations turn out to be pretty accurate?
I was gobsmacked how much time this little chap took up. I think I had an idea of a new baby being asleep for much of the time, and me having hours each day to swan around doing as I pleased
Hmm, I thought newborns slept most of the time too...right I'll cross that off my list of things to expect
I was astonished by how much head space DD took up even when she was asleep/didn't need me for anything in particular. Honestly, I couldn't have believed it. Also astonished by how difficult it was to put her down (both because she didn't want to be put down and I didn't want to let go of her).
The amazing amount of stuff there is to learn about parenting.
How little sleep you can still function with.
But number 1 is the love. I would gladly lose life or limb to keep my kids safe. My heart feels like its being squeezed when they smile. They are light up my world. I thought I would love them but the intensity is phenomenal.
One of the biggest shocks was the tides of clutter. Before having children we visited friends with 2 small children, and the bathrooum was covered in plastic toys etc, and I wasn't particularly judging (!) but I thought, "Why don't they just pick the toys up?"
I hadn't realised that they had probably picked them up about 50 billion times that week already.
How bloody exhausting it is, even when they do sleep
What surprised me most when my newborn wanted feeding every hour or so. I so underestimated how exhauasting it was and no, newborns dont sleep for hours on end. Also i had to say goodbye to my immaculatey tidy flat and hello to baby paraphenalia in every room.
The relentlessness. Even 10+ years on.
Yeah, definitely love (bigger), clutter (more), disappearing time (where the fuck did the week go...), and noise (aaaagh).
And lack of sleep.
That I couldn't put him down if it made him sad. And didn't want to, in fact.
That I had far more patience than I could ever have imagined with this tiny little scrap. (None for DH though. ;) )
That I had to feed him for 2h at a time because he had tonguetie and fed really slowly
That breastfeeding can really fucking hurt if they get the latch wrong/have tonguetie
DS1 didn't do much sleeping during the day either - I used to get really riled with DH coming home and whinging that nothing had been done, after all, don't babies sleep most of the time? Not mine, no! Two half hour naps in the day if I was lucky.
I was all set to be a stern rigid parent - and ended up being an almost-attachment parent (not quite).
How all consuming it is.
How much I love them.
The love. Oh my word. I thought I knew what love was, but it's all consuming. I missed her when she was asleep!
The headspace she took up when she was brand new. That it's impossible to concentrate on anything if you can hear your baby crying.
That breastfeeding does not come naturally to everyone, but it's damned well worth persevering with.
That your day won't always go to plan, but it's not usually the end of the world.
That sometimes you really do just know what to do. I brought loads of books, I still read parenting guides and ask for advice, but sometimes you just have a gut instinct and it is right.
That many babies don't know how to sleep and you have to teach the. Poor DD must have been hallucinating from the lack of sleep in her first week at home!
How much they can make you laugh, even doing the silliest thing. And how much they can make you cry, even doing the silliest thing.
And yes, the love. It's a cliche but it really is overwhelming sometimes. I realise that never in my life had I been truly scared or fearful of anything; now the thought of something happening to DD makes my heart stop.
And how quickly comfortable you become with another person's bodily discharges
I never knew what fear was until I became a mother.
That babies actually fight sleep. I presumed they just lay down and nodded off...how wrong I was!
Ah, having to teach babies how to sleep - that's a new one on me but makes sense! Thanks for all your thoughts
God yes the sleep. I never believed my mum when she said I didn't sleep til I was 2, and now she is my absolute hero.
Babies are not born knowing how to eat or sleep.
That you will find a new love for your OH when you see him become a father.
That you will become invisible. Babies and pregnant women are attention magnets and the transition from doted on pregnant lady to 'just get on with it, you're a mum' is quite startling.
Oh and just how it can take for perineal stitches to heal <shudder>
Having the FEAR all the time.
How strong I am. I had no idea, but soon found I would fight anyone or anything to make sure my child was ok. This links to patience, as mentioned by pp - I still don't understand how we consistently get up in the middle of the night to deal with a LO. Again.
The biggest thing I think is the little bubble of family. That idea that nothing and no one else matters, and the trust that only your little family get an opinion on your little family. That brought me peace I didn't know I was missing.
I thought it was all going to be an unbelievable amount of bother, and I couldn't understand how people have the energy and patience for it.
In fact, I keep things quite simple, I don't find my own daughter a bother , and luckily I received a bundle of extra patience in the post-natal ward as I slept which has come in quite useful.
The sheer all consuming no minutes left in the day absolute knackering epicness. And the mess. And the love
How boring she was in the first few weeks. How incredible and amazing she is now (16 weeks)
Agree with the patience. And not being able to leave DS to cry.
Good job it's both points as he still isn't sleeping through the night at 21 months
I also didn't anticipate how much my heart would melt at little things. DH agrees. Only last night he got us both grinning like loons when he pointed at a banana and said "nana" (he's not talking yet except for "no")
Ah yes, the Fear. Stupid things - imagining that I'm going to fall down the stairs holding the baby, seeing myself doing it in my head. <<shudder>>
How much time I could waste just staring at my baby. Watching every little move, facial change, awake or sleeping - I just loved it. I never got bored by either of them, even in the first few days/weeks - I was endlessly fascinated by these tiny humans and how perfect they were, how well they worked, that I had produced them! [sappy]
Relentlessness - of everything both good and bad: that you have ultimate responsibility for everything to do with a little life, that the only time you think about nipping down the shops is when they've finally fallen asleep and you can't, and absolutely how completely you adore the little thing, the pain at their first real tear (even though it won't be your fault), how you will stay up for hours if they're sick and all you can be is worried, and suddenly things like zombie or disaster movies, or the informational bits in Comic Relief are almost impossible to watch because you keep thinking about your child in those terrible situations.
Oh yes, the absolute awe as you look at your little burbling 6 month old and realise that he is still entirely made of you, but in a separate body - that you grew him, then fed him on milk you produced until you had a being sitting there grinning at you.
Made me sit down in shock when I first realised how crazy that was to think about
How much I could love. Really didn't expect that!
How much I changed - I was imagining I'd be desperate to get back to the job I loved within a few months and on the look out for babysitters so I could have a night off after a few weeks - in fact, I agonised over wanting to be a stay at home mum and took a longer maternity leave than I'd planned and couldn't bear to be apart from her for months - before the first night out I had (at 6months) my DH had to force me out the door!
The impact it would have on my relationship with my DH - for better and worse.
How backbreakingly physical it is: lifting, carrying, arranging, strapping in, attaching, etc: baby, buggy, shopping, luggage, sometimes all at once and trying to manoeuvre in awkward spaces, onto bus, etc. just KNACKERING. But I am a lone parent which makes this aspect harder.
I thought I was a patient person before I had children but now I realise its an area that I'm seriously lacking in.
I had no idea that they would accumulate so much stuff
I didn't realise that becoming a parent would mean that people would automatically assume that you want to look after their children too.
I didn't realise just how beautiful they would be and squishy.
I didn't realise that the most beautiful smell in the world is a wee filled nappy and I really miss the nappies now we are past that stage.
How maternal I actually am. I used to be the hardest nosed person, lacking in empathy, that I knew and I spent my pregnancy terrified that I wouldn't know what to do, I wouldn't bond, I wouldn't like being a Mum. Then DD arrived, it turns out I'm not that awful, I love being her Mummy, and I'm pretty good at it too I think
that sometimes things don't work out how you think they will and this was not what I opted in for
Definitely the feeling of overwhelming love and complete pfb ness that came over me. I've surprised myself by the type of parent I've turned out to be. I'm still bf at 8 months and have no intention of stopping, we co sleep from about 4 every night- earlier if needs be. I've had about 4 evenings out since she's been born- and it bothers me not a jot, I can't IMAGINE leaving her overnight.
I'll be the first to admit I've judged many people for lesser decisions!
And I don't give two hoots! I bloody love the bones of her
I had convinced that having a baby was going to be such such hard work, and it was! But I hadn't realised how quickly it would pass within a few weeks the incessant feeding had slowed down and DS knew when it was night time so even though he was still feeding every 2-3 hours it was a feed then straight back to sleep. Now, at six months, he is happy to play on his own for a while, usually only has 2 feeds in the night and it only takes 5-10 minutes for a bf. So, in a lot of ways is it lot easier than I had been expecting. Although, that it just a baby. I appreciate toddlers are a lot of hard work.
My expectations were pretty spot on. The guilt was a surprise though!
Oh definitely the Fear. How they become the single most important thing to you (sorry DP )
that after waiting years & years that on a particular afternoon I met my DS who was 4 & having only seen a couple of not very clear pictures of him up til then in the adoption process he looked at me & his first words were "you're My Mummy" & my heart went into boom boom overdrive & I fell completely & utterly in love ....& I am more than surprised when I'm with him that I'm his Mummy - I have to pinch myself - I'm so proud of him & we are lucky to have him even though those lego pieces everywhere are the bain of my feet !
That's amazing Bea, I just welled up!
Man I'm in a soppy mood today.
How much it changed my other relationships. I love my husband/mum/dad etc before. But I love them more now because of watching them be a Dad / Grandparent.
That I would find the lack of outcome associated with a day quite difficult for me personally, that my identity changing would affect me so much, my relationships with friend, family and DP all changed...
How little support you get from some, and so much from others. The judgements associated with being the mothe of a biter... Hoe much a birth can still haunt you over a year down the line and despte all of this that you love them, with a fierce protection that you didn't think you were capable of...
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
The bit when I sat up after having DS and my organs went 'shloop!' Back into place. That was a surprise.
Also that I should be able to create such an amazing, beautiful, funny, clever human. An actual human! Me!
That still surprises me.
The sense of worry and panic. About everything they do. Always.
And the lack of sleep. And any real me time. Ever.
Yes yes yes to the Fear. I hate the Fear. I was never like that before. I remember taking two day old DD out for a short walk and being stricken by how dangerous the world was. Someone walked near me when I had her in the sling and I panicked in case they bashed her head with their elbow (they'd have had to be trying pretty hard, really). Now it's different Fears. But they will probably never go away. My mum is on holiday and has sent me five emails in three days about a mild allergic reaction I've had. I am absolutely fine. But she's in Tenerife where she is meant to be having fun and instead panicking about someone who is 44 and perfectly capable of arranging a doctor's appointment.
DS1 - how hard and challenging the motherhood is.
DS2 - that motherhood can be enjoyable, too.
Not very original but the lack of sleep and the bone achi g tiredness it causes. Seriously I've had five and each time I'm shocked.
The other thing is that heart flipping feeling you get when they just look soooo sweet ad adorable.
The relentlessness and just how boring it can be early on.
I think the loss if self is rarely talked about compared to all the gushy stuff. I almost mourned by old life.
On the flip side, I'm totally and utterly proud of everything my DD does and am terrified that for some reason, one day, someone won't like her.
That it requires a degree in something or other (physics? engineering?) to put up a cot/pushchair/high chair
Oh the love. I'd heard about it but I didn't expect to be so totally changed by it. When my DD looks at me if feels like my heart will explode. She is the most amazing little person, changing everyday.
I thought I'd carry on with life, work, etc and she would slot in, but my life revolves round her for now. And I'm fine with that.
Oh, not a good one from me - the frustration.
I was really surprised that I could see why someone would shake a baby.
I didn't, and I'm over all that now, so I guess the world's babies are safe - but, I can totally see why someone can be driven over the edge of sanity and can hurt a tiny, defenceless person whom they love with all your heart.
But, then, I had rampant PND which was undiagnosed as I was very good at pretending everything was fine.
But, yep, that's my worst thing - and, if you get the slightest inkling that you identify with what I'm saying then, please, tell someone. I eventually did, and it was all smashing after that.
Though, I STILL wouldn't mind having enough peace and quiet to enjoy a shit without "muuu-uuuuum"
I didn't mind the loss of self. I didn't really notice it. For ages, I couldn't really remember what I'd done before DD arrived.
Oh yeah, the loo thing. I still get DD coming into the loo to tell me things and I am all 'why can we not wait FIVE MINUTES until I have finished my poo'. She is six.
How little my DD slept.
How much stuff she has/needs.
How easy I found it to change shitty nappies
I can't change anyone else's baby
How long it takes to get ready and out the house in the morning, I'm almost 8m in and I'm still always late.
How much I love her. The feeling of overwhelming love is the best feeling ever. She can be such hard work but totally worth it. She's amazing <<soppy mummy moment>>
How relentless the early months are.
How utterly boring it can be at times
How utterly I loved them both (and still do of course!)
Re "the loo thing" Why do none of you lock the loo door. I never ever once took a child into the loo - hard luck if they cried or had to wait two minutes to tell me something.
An overwhelming feeling of responsibility. We've got to teach her how to survive in this big scary world. To eat, to read, to write, to socialise etc etc She's only 22 months so the next 16 years we're busy being parents- huge responsibility which requires so many different skills.
People say 'oh I can't wait to have a baby' but they're not babies for long. You're having a little person.
I was also surprised at how natural I was. I didn't need books
despite reading them Nor did I realise I'd be more of an attachment-parent. I was doing things that were normal to me and fitted my family only to be told there was a name for it
The sleep and baby stage was as I expected. The toddler stage is not <pulls own hair whilst rocking up the corner>
I was shocked at how much I had relied on work for friendships - I knew very few people outside my workplace as I had moved to the town to work there. Made me make an effort to get out and meet people...
Agreeing on the frustration, dc2 really tested my patience with constant screaming
Also - how soon all the pain and drama of labour becomes irrelevant
>> Why do none of you lock the loo door.
Because they are only little for a short time and it doesn't matter that much. But it is a surprise to anyone who hasn't had a child, I think. Unless you lock them out and let them cry, of course.
"Why do none of you lock the loo door"
Because the battering at the door, the sobbing and wailing the other side, is distinctly off-putting. I can't do the job while that's going on so I leave the door openable.
DS1 hasn't been in while we've been doing a poo since he was about 3; and he won't let me stay in the room while he's doing one either! DS2 is still only
8mo so not an issue yet.
Bealola - that made me tear up as well, how lovely! <sniffles>
*How all consuming it is.
How much I love them.*
^^This perfectly summed up by Angry Feet
Why do none of you lock the loo door?
my baby and my toddler cannot be left alone together for even a minute for safety reasons....thus one or the other always has to come with me to the loo. I miss having a good private pee that is for sure.
The HORMONES. Just when I think I am emotionally approaching normal again, a new batch comes in (DD is 17 weeks and bf so I'm not back to normal periods etc yet). I remember reading a description on here of the 'day 3' hormones where one MNer said she cried because her DP made her tea in the wrong mug. That could have been me
How fast she grows out of nappies/clothes/Moses basket
How much laundry there is to do!
Oh yes, the "baby blues" - hit me at Day 4/5 - I just cried and cried. No idea why at the time but then a friend told me she was exactly the same - it was the hormones, the "baby blues" (NOT to be confused with PND).
Definitely the fear. Anne Lamott once said of having her son "you may have the greatest joy you ever dreamed of, but you will never again draw an untroubled breath." I'm not much of a worrier but in the back of my mind is always the thought that something could happen to the DC. I know who I am as a person would not survive it.
How much I would cry! I have a lullabye station on Pandora and I have to fast forward Baby Mine (from Dumbo) every time it comes on or I will cry and cry.
How hard it is with two! DS is almost 6 and DD is three weeks and dear God it's a challenge. I'm hoping it'll get a bit easier when DD is out of the very very tiny stage.
How physically I love them. My heart actually aches sometimes. I didn't grow up in a touchy feely family at all, but I can't seem to ever stop hugging and kissing them.
But also the frustration, the absolute red mist that descends sometimes. I actually just put "Choosing Peace" on my kitchen chalk board as it's been my mantra since DD was born. I have to keep it my head not to go utterly fishwife on DS sometimes. I am shocked at how angry they can make me! (Well, pretty much not "they" yet, DD's too little to cause much ruckus. )
Give it a few months, CY! DS2 is starting to cause me to lose it slightly as well - mostly when he chooses to spit food everywhere instead of swallowing, or when he bites me when feeding - and I'm not being as calm and serene as I was with DS1 about it! Probably because I'm already on a higher level of irritation as a start point...
Sorry, I do realise that probably wasn't very helpful!
I would say it WILL get easier when your DD is a little bit older and not into the feeding every 2* hours day and night thing. xx
*or more, that could just have been me of course.
I'm not that surprised by the loo thing because I remember sitting on the floor of the bathroom when I was about 3 asking my mum what her sanitary towels were!
I was surprised by how much other people suddenly felt that my business was theirs.
I was pleasantly surprised at how amazing my mother and father in law took to being kind and happy grandparents.
I was surprised at just how much I want for my little man and how I hold my breath when he tries new things, and how I wish for him to be the best at everything, because, in my mind at least, of course he is!
I was surprised at how much a child galvanised my relationship with my husband.
The absence of tactile contact with dh. We used to hug and cuddle and hand hold a lot. We hardly ever do now as one of us is usually holding ds. I really miss that contact with dh.
That I would have time for a new hobby but only if that hobby is laundry.
I had to leave one of mine in SCBU for several weeks, and go home without him.
Never realised how dreadful that is.
Still remember that awful time.
It was like trying to be in two places at once.
That small children don't simply sleep when they are tired, or eat when they are hungry, but often have to be coaxed into doing it.
And heaven help you when they are too hungry to sleep and too tired to eat.
Actually DH and I now know the solution to that one 99% of the time-Weetabix.
Oh, god, Eldritch, I remember when DD was only a few weeks old and was too hungry to sleep, too tired to eat. Absolutely nightmarish. I remember DP turning to me and saying, "yeah, I think I've changed my mind, can we send her back?"
That I really am a crashing great softy.
We had her cot set up in her room, swing in the lounge. We brought her home, and I realised I didn't want her more than two inches from me.
She slept in her baby bath on two dining chairs, right next to the bed for weeks until we had the money for a Moses basket.
At two, she's still cosleeping. I don't see this changing.
How much I hurt when she hurts.
How intensely frustrating it all is.
That you just get used to being tired. . .ALL.THE.TIME!
Oh yes, chubbychipmonk, I used to be an 8 hours a night kind of girl and 12+ on weekends, but since getting pregnant just four hours straight sleep is a real treat and feels so wonderful!
How much my (previously perfectionist) housekeeping standards would slip - I'd never expected to be patting at the latest wee/milk/sick wet patch on my bed at 4am and deciding just to put a towel down over it and sleep on top. (I'd never expected several good mattress protectors to be quite as essential as they are....)
I didn't expect to have, in the first few weeks, terrifying intrusive visions (like flashbacks) of DD getting hurt in some way - I'd be feeding/minding my own business/eating/whatever and suddenly experience a terrifying vision of DD falling or being dropped and her skull smashing or similar. Now I know that this is TOTALLY NORMAL and every mum I've spoken about this to has had the same thing - it must be some kind of evolutionary adaptation to make you protect the baby - but if you're already sleep-deprived and feel out of control it's very scary.
How much I would like spending my time saying silly things out loud like "tummy to mummy, nose to nipple" at the start of every feed, or "where's that burp? THERE'S that burp!"
How much my relationship with my mum would suddenly improve.
How much I would enjoy singing all the songs to DD that my mum sang to me.
How much cake I could eat (have never had a sweet tooth in my life until I was pregnant - I have got monstrously fat just eating cake and chocolate since the birth...)
How difficult the first couple of months are - OR how quickly you bounce back as soon as you get a bit more sleep and readjust. In the first few weeks I genuinely thought my entire selfhood/life/mental peace had vanished forever - now a few months on I feel pretty much back to the old me (though substantially fatter.....)
How weird-looking newborns are, but how quickly they transform into the most adorable baby you've ever seen.
How annoying it is when mum/dad/MIL/relatives keep saying stuff like "are you sure she won't sleep in that Moses basket?" after you've told them forty times she won't sleep in the Moses basket, even to the point if coming into rooms to find (previously asleep) DD howling in said basket with parent/relative standing over it saying "she really doesn't seem to like that Moses basket, does she" (AAAAARRGHHHHHH)
I thought that DD would be a 'blank canvas'... but no....she was born with her own personality and stubborn... just like her dad!
its a good job i love them both!
she had her own ideas of everything... even before she could talk i knew she'd be trouble! and she is the best kind of trouble ever!
Guilt about everything.
How quickly I got sick of hearing the word "mummy". A million times a day, often in stereo. Drove me demented when they were little.
I'm only 10 weeks in, but right now:
How interesting he is. I always found tiny babies dull, turns out I wasn't looking properly.
How much time I'd spend stuck on the sofa or awake at 3am breastfeeding or with baby sleeping on me and that this is wonderful because I can finally read all those books I'd never gotten round to.
That I'm less anxious than I used to be. It's going to be fine. I'm an ok mother and he's an ace baby.
That the nursery that you spent ages agonising over what colour to paint, what 'matching set' to go for, that you had looking 'just perfect' ready for baby, that you sat in patiently waiting for baby to arrive admiring how good a job you did decorating it. .
Never ever looks the same again the minute you bring baby home! People just don't take into account your matching pastel coloured theme when buying you bright red, blue and green teddies, pictures, ornaments etc etc
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