I've had this conversation about a thousand times it feels like with friends and family and poor hubs has heard it almost every single one of those times. But, today I want to share the one thing that I wish someone told me before having a little and bringing him home: it's hard and scary and exhausting and not always cuddly and fun. And by that, I mean for me it was I think one of the hardest things I've ever done - trumped by pushing the 9 lbs 2 oz of his sweet baby love out of my body.
I operate best with clear expectations. I'm flexible with plans, etc. but I really like to have some baseline expectation for just about anything. I felt like I had this when I was pregnant. I have a bunch of friends who have been pregnant before me and a wonderful mom and mother in law who shared their experiences. Hubs and I went through the maternity class at the hospital. I read all the blog posts online about pregnancy, delivery, what to pack in the hospital bag, etc. And frankly, I think it helped me. Because I had heard so many different experiences and stories, I had a pretty good idea of how things should work and a whole range of things that had happened to people I knew. So, labor was fine. Not easy, but nothing that I hadn't heard of happening before.
We were in the hospital for two days following delivery and those days were glorious. I wasn't feeling awesome, and I definitely was looking a hot mess, but I was surrounded by friends, family, my little love bug, and a whole team of medical experts and nurses that checked on me and babe regularly. And then we brought him home.
I just knew it would be fine. I expected not to sleep. I did hear that from people - "sleep while you can..." and it's true. But the thing that no one said to me was that going home is scary. So scary. The baby is crying and you feel like you just fed him. But your milk isn't in and he's still learning to nurse and so are you and your nipples are sore and you are exhausted, but you are too scared to sleep because what if the baby rolls over in his sleep (babies can't roll over yet, but ours did manage to get to his side in about 30 seconds after being laid down...) but you can't swaddle him without him getting his arms out and now you have to change a diaper again. I called my mom (who lives about an hour away) at 10:30 the first night home and asked her and my dad to come back to spend the night with us. They did because they are awesome.
And this continues. There is no instruction manual. It doesn't matter that you used to work in the nursery and that you love babies and you've held lots of them. It's different when it's yours and it's hard.
There were so many times when I just asked hubs to hold me. And he did and told me that I was doing a good job. And if it weren't for him and our friends who brought us food every single day for the first 2.5 weeks, I'm not sure I would have made it. But no one told me this so bluntly and so I didn't know how long this was supposed to last and it felt like it was lasting.
But then a magical thing happened after two weeks. Hubs went back to work and the Little and I survived. And we made it the next day, too. And we have made it everyday after that and I'm happy to say that it's way better after that initial at home time.
These days are so fun and I am basking in all of them. Little is making new sounds other than crying, he is smiling on the regular, laughing even occasionally, and this is truly a love like I have never known. (And he slept from 8PM - 4AM last night. WOO HOO!)
So, if you're pregnant, or just gave birth - I just want to be sure you know that it's hard. So hard at first. And then it gets better. For us, it got significantly better around 2.5 weeks. If I had just known how long to expect that period to last, I think I would have been a lot better off.
The thing I realized during that time though, and I think this is really important to remember, is this:
everyone is learning. Your little has been connected to a constant food source for his whole existence and now he's out in this world and he has to find his food. And he has to exert effort to get it. And you're also learning. And it's ok. Your baby isn't disappointed in you - you're the only mom he's ever known, so to him, you are the best mom, his favorite. And you're in this together.