We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Sarah Jane Dunaway talks about everything she initially heard about pregnancy and motherhood that proved to be untrue in her own journey to becoming a mom. -JKM
My mother often reminds me that I share too much. My husband says I just talk a lot. I love to connect with others by sharing my personal stories and, of course, passing along my infinite amount of knowledge. While pregnant with my now two-year-old daughter, I enjoyed connecting with fellow mom friends, both ahead of me and behind me in the pregnancy and newborn process. It was a new way to connect with each other on a deeper level. And, by deeper, I am being polite about the gritty details we shared about postpartum recovery.
But, here is what I did not enjoy: the untruths. The untruths about pregnancy and the untruths about caring for a newborn. I was fed an endless amount of personal falsehoods from everyone—friends, family, even random strangers on the street. Here are some of them.
Breastfeeding will take the baby weight off
No, no it did not. Maybe I did it wrong. It took me two years after the birth of my daughter to take off the baby weight. It wasn’t achieved by exercise or pumping in between feedings to stimulate extra milk production. One day, I decided to make my husband a truly superb homemade meal for dinner, just to show him how much I care and love him. And, because I’m just an awesome wife. I made homemade bison meatballs for dinner. Unfortunately, a few of the meatballs were not cooked completely, and naturally, they were the two I ate. So, no, nursing for 14 months did not take off the weight I had gained from our beautiful little child. It was food poisoning, and it was gruesome.
An epidural will be your best friend
Two weeks after the birth of our daughter, I got up at 3 a.m. to take her downstairs to sit in the living room, and pump and feed her; we were co-sleeping at the time. I missed the first step, and pitched down the flight of stairs. Thankfully, our daughter was completely untouched. I, however, suffered from a broken shoulder blade in a break that is only possible by sheer impact from say, falling down a flight of hardwood stairs, while curled into a ball to protect your infant daughter from injury, or worse. So, no, my best friend was not an epidural. It was the cocktail of prescription drugs given to me by the ER doctor after falling down a flight of stairs, resulting in a broken shoulder blade, and rows of bruises down my legs, arms, and back.
I was very overwhelmed by what to babyproof. Family would come over and point out the sharp edges, the electrical outlets, and the death traps. In fact, we have a bar with crystal cocktail glasses in our living room. I spent months brainstorming how to protect the crystal without turning the bar into an eye-sore. In the end, I did nothing. But, guess what? Infants don’t do anything! In my opinion, there’s no need to babyproof until your child is crawling, or even walking. Here’s my biggest babyproofing secret of all: the word “no”—problem solved and zero dollars spent.
Your body craves the foods it needs
Does it, really? Because, I spent three straight months craving margaritas and bagels with cream cheese. And, by cream cheese, I mean about one cup of cream cheese per bagel.
You’ll love feeling your body grow with the miracle of life
I’m sorry, but that part was totally weird for me. Personally, I just loved that I no longer had to suck in my tummy. Sure, I looked about a month further along into my pregnancy, but it was amazing! No more loose-fitted shirts to cover the chub on my short-waisted body. I embraced fitted shirts for the first time in my life! If I had known more about the post-pregnancy waist, I might have embraced it a bit more.
You’ll be exhausted all of the time
I really wasn’t. I realize this makes me an anomaly, but I honestly was not that tired. I was horrifically nauseous and suffered from morning sickness almost daily, even up into labor. There was nothing I could do to pass the time except sleep. Out of sheer torture, I went to bed around 7 p.m. every night, praying not to wake up feeling like I actually had enjoyed a bucket of margaritas the night before. So, perhaps I was just really well-rested.
Random people will touch your belly
This really didn’t happen often. I attribute it to my general horror of being so uncomfortable and nauseous, thereby scaring off all those who wanted to touch my belly. Two weeks before I went into labor, I was in the market and an older, chubby gentleman, resembling Santa Claus, walked up to me in the produce section, and flicked my stomach. So, no, random people will not touch your belly. If you’re like me, they’ll flick it like they would a cigarette.
You’ll want your hair short, otherwise the baby will grab it constantly
This was not true for me. For some, it might be true. But, for me, it was the milk that would get into my hair while breastfeeding, thereby revealing to my husband how many days it had been since I last washed it. So, yes, you’ll want short hair, so that the evidence of your last shower remains an unsolved mystery.
Having a baby will change your life
A baby will change your life only if you want it to change. My husband and I consciously decided not to let our firstborn change too much. After the first week of having a baby, we strapped her into the Boba Wrap, and walked down the street for a glass of wine. We took her everywhere. The secret to babies is that they sleep. Other than diapers, they require very little. And, if you breastfeed, they’re even more portable. That being said, a toddler will change your life. Especially a fierce, strong-willed toddler obsessed with controlling all aspects of your life and hers. So, no, a baby may not change your life—it’s when she or he is mobile, bossy, and opinionated that your life will change.
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