Children are such a blessing; they have the ability to fill an empty house with giggles, put a smile on your face in the darkest of moments and will have you rolling on the floor in laughter when they learn to say the cutest things. That being said, I would like to prepare you for the other part of the journey that is rarely spoken of. If you have read my other posts, you will know that my personal experience of being a mother has been quite the rollercoaster ride to say the least; late night wakings, diaper explosions and smelling like spit up for most of the day. I have also mentioned the early morning cuddles, heart warming smiles and unlimited love that have proven to be the most rewarding part of parenthood. All of those stand true, but what about the less talked about side effects of taking care of a little spawn while trying to survive the months of sleep deprivation? It is a well known fact that everyone’s experience is very different, but from the discussions I’ve had with a few other moms, I was able to identify a few weird things that we all had in common. If you are a first time mom or soon to be one, here’s a list of some strange things that you are likely to experience and may want to prepare for.
1 . The Five second rule becomes a thing… except with no time limit
I had to start with this one so we could get it out of the way. There, I said it, I pick up random things from the floor or couch and pop them into my mouth – don’t judge! Backtracking a little, let me explain how I got here; before meeting my husband, while we were dating and for a while after we got married one would’ve described me as a germophobe, mostly because of my sensitive stomach. Everything I ate or drank needed to be germ free, I would not eat salads in restaurants or add the sliced up lemon they’d bring on a little side dish to my water. Even my drinking water needed to be mineral! For months after Gabby joined us, that germ aversion persisted and resulted in lots of sterilising, washing and rewashing things before handing them over to be consumed by her non-existent immune system.
Three months into her life, I decided that it would be great for her social skills (and my sanity) to join a mommy and me class. Day one was memorable, not only because all the ladies were so friendly, but because I watched as one mom picked up a biscuit from the floor and handed it to her eleven-month-old to eat. I’m pretty sure it was the kiddo that dropped it, but the fact that she didn’t replace the biscuit that fell on the high traffic floor and was comfortable letting her little one eat it was just beyond me. Funny part? She was a medical doctor! The other moms must have noticed the look of horror on my face because the conversation quickly moved to all of the crazy things that their littles ones ate that made them realise it was time to stop sterilising. Shoes, dog food, unidentified objects… Fast forward a few months and there was little spawn chewing on one of my flip flops. Like clockwork, I knew it was time to retire my sterilizer (and germ police badge). Nowadays I find myself living by the same standards that I place on my child, that is, if the piece of food passes the checklist, it can be consumed. What is it? How long has it been there? Is it a dry piece of food like a biscuit or germ friendly like a piece of banana?
2. You will question your sanity
I love my little spawn to bits, she is probably the reason I get out of bed most days, but man does she test my sanity! Anyone with insomnia would know how hard it is to carry on about your day after nights of less than optimal sleep… Now imagine not getting enough rest because the stars are not aligned and when you do finally fall asleep, your little spawn wakes up and refuses to fall asleep again until you perform your “wheels on the bus” cover close to ten times. Just to make it more aggravating, she knows the lyrics and will not let you slur or jumble it up. Well, God blessed me with an insomniac toddler that absolutely loves hearing me sing in the wee hours of the morning and always wants “hand”. Initially I thought it was difficult, you know, with a new born and all, but now that life has pretty much gone back to normal (work, CrossFit, etc), I cannot sleep when the baby sleeps and still need to turn on my charm for my clients – it is UNBEARABLE! I’ve even had the odd night when I thought I was breastfeeding a baby, only to realise I was just asleep in bed… seated… rocking an invisible baby nothing. And no, I was not high!
3. You will remember every time you have sex
I wish the first few times postpartum would be fireworks and roses but it isn’t the case for a lot of us normal mamas. A quick google search will confirm that when pregnant, a woman tends to have a surge in oestrogen and progesterone and may become the ‘freakiest’ she’s ever been in the second and maybe even third trimester. Well ladies, those days are short lived so enjoy them while they last! Postpartum, you will not only have to deal with any stitches down there (for all the lucky naturalistas) or the C-section incision (for all my fellow cohorts). You know how the weather sometimes matches your mood? Well, be prepared for the bloody storms that follow as you will bleed for six weeks straight… nice and long to make up for all nine months of period-less bliss. Once that is over, be ready for your first sexual encounter which might be a little difficult due to the drought that follows the rain. You’ve always wanted to visit the Sahara? Don’t forget to pack some lube!
As scary as that sounds, everything has an end – including the discomfort associated to the changes in hormones. Once you’ve stopped breastfeeding, things should feel pretty much ‘normal’ down there and you will be able to enjoy the experiences that you yearned for throughout all of those months – both pre and post baby. Just be prepared to find little eyes watching you at some point unless you park your spawn on the other end of the house!
4. Your social life will change… drastically
I’m not sure what it is about children and sleep that doesn’t mesh well together. Sure, there are some people blessed with children that can pass out for twelve hours straight and need to be woken up for the day, but I’m not entirely sure if it isn’t the result of some antihistamines added to the milk bottles. My child, like most, wakes up at an ungodly hour on the worst of days, almost as though her body clock is in tune with my social calendar. Want to test this theory? I dare you to plan an outing with your best buds with no set curfew. It might sound like fun, and it will be – until the exhaustion hits the next day as you are dealing with an alert baby/ toddler. But don’t let me stop you, please, have a great time with your friends!
Did you say you live for your girls’ night outs? Wait, you really think those weekly catch ups will continue? Oh honey, don’t be silly. Who is going to stay in and watch your baby? Oh, of course, this is the twentieth century so daddy can hold the forte for a few hours right? Well good luck dealing with the mom guilt! If that is not an issue, good on you mama, please do pass on the secret? I’ve managed a night or two out with old friends but something just didn’t seem right without my human purse glued to my breast and draining me of all my stored nutrients. I am also not sure if my friends thought I was annoying for going on and on with my tales of the adorable spawn (illustrated with pictures and sound effects), or if they just couldn’t relate. Whatever it was, my friendships did change. One thing that quite a few moms and I have agreed on is that f you don’t already have mom friends, you soon will. Get ready to replace your address book with people from you mommy and me class!
5. Goodbye selfies, hello baby pictures
Show me a mother who does not have an encyclopaedia of baby pictures in her phone and I will give you a million dollars. Before having my spawn, I used to take any opportunity that was thrown my way for a photoshoot. Dressed really nice for work? Bathroom selfie. Tried on a new brand of mascara? Selfie. Got a new hairdo? Selfie. Nowadays you will find at least ten new pictures or videos of little Gabby walking, talking, dancing, breathing! A lot of them include a very scruffy mommy grinning from ear to ear next to a well kept baby. Not sure if we moms think we will forget what our little ones look like (early onset amnesia?) or if it is just the obsession called motherhood. Whatever it is, get ready to upgrade your cloud a few times.
6. You will forget what privacy feels like
If you have not had any children yet, I highly recommend that you cherish those moments on the toilet, the fifteen minutes in the shower and even the nice bubble baths you can take for hours on end. Once you have a little one, all of that freedom will fly right out the window. It all seems so cute in the movies when you see a mom brushing her teeth with a little human propped up on the countertop, copying her every move, doesn’t it? I will admit that it is mostly adorable, but there will always be days that you just need a minute alone to grieve the passing of bodily fluids, or recompose your thoughts in the sanctuary. Trust me when I say it is not possible with a little toddler trying to stick her hands into the toilet bowl! My little spawn has made herself useful lately, breaking off the tiniest bits of toilet paper and handing it to me before she bites a huge hole into the role and then dashes off in mischievous laughter. As weird as it sounds, I don’t quite remember what it feels like to go to the bathroom alone!
7. Your husband will no longer be the most important person in your life
I love Nuno to bits, he is my best friend, my soul mate, the person that makes my heart skip a beat. In all honesty, I would be extremely happy if we were told to live on a dessert island with no need to work the typical job, no bothersome humans to talk to and no connection to the outside world! Ok that’s too extreme even for me; Nuno and uncapped wifi are my forever loves. Nothing changes how I feel about him, but if both he and Gabby were about to be eaten by zombies, we know who I’m going to save. Besides, he has thirty-four years of experience to keep him going a little longer vs the innocent little potato whose life is my responsibility! I joke about this, but the truth remains; as a mom you are not only gifted with the life of a child, you are entrusted with their well being. When Gabby is a bit older and can understand the dynamics a little better, I will show her that mommy and daddy have a special bond that is different to what we have with her, but for now she is our main priority.
The list could honestly go on, but I think I will stop here before this post becomes the most effective form of contraception. Jokes aside, it is almost unfair to think that life will be the same once new life is brought into your family. Prior to having Gabby, I didn’t really like kids. I found them annoying, they asked too many questions and pretty much served as carriers for all the diseases known to mankind. Now that I am a mom, I have a different appreciation for the young ones which may well be because my spawn is perfect in every way you can imagine! If you are a mom to be or already have a little baby, I would like you to know that while parenthood is not a walk in the park, it is a truly heartwarming and noteworthy (and weird) experience which you will cherish forever.
If you’d like to know what else I learnt from being a mom, check it out here!