There were several things about being a first time mom that surprised me, and many of them were disappointing. First, no one talks about how SICK she was. I had always heard about morning sickness (which by the way doesn’t have to be in the morning), but I didn’t know it could happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Well, upon becoming pregnant with twins, my hormones were crazy, and I was nauseous and vomiting for most of my pregnancy. When I would ask other moms, “Is this normal?” Most would say, “Oh I was SO sick with my kids. Every single one.” Great. How come no one talks about this stuff??? So I was totally unprepared that motherhood starts RIGHT AWAY. There isn’t much easing into. I found out I was pregnant at four weeks, and by six I was texting my boss: Gonna be a little late. Feeling sick this morning.
No problem. Feel better, take your time.
If only he haad known this was going to be like a 9 month thing.
Once we (yes “WE.” My husband suffered the cruelties of pregnancy as well as the joys. He deserves the credit.) got through the nausea, vomiting, and accompanying digestive issues, I was totally caught off guard by the pain of carrying around a disproportionate amount of weight in the front of my body. I had this weird inner thigh pain that made putting on my pants as exhausting as a marathon. Then I began experiencing horrible back pain from 6 months until delivery. Nothing a little chiro adjustment couldn’t fix though.
With each problem, I found a solution, until the babies actually got here. Now let’s talk about a few things that are REALLY hard. 1) Waking your husband up between 11-5 to help feed the girls after a c-section and you can’t move to grab them. Note: throwing pillows, screaming, and crying do not actually wake said husband up, and he will probably wake up in the morning and say, “Wow. The girls slept through the night, huh?”
2) Breastfeeding is simple in theory but not in application. I was unfortunately unable to successfully breastfeed. The girls couldn’t latch effectively, and if I was to be honest, I’m still upset with myself. I had expected to breastfeed my children. I had been looking forward to the experience for the maternal-child connection, and, because I’m a fiscally conscious woman, I figured, “Why pay for milk, if I can produce it?” When the girls couldn’t latch, I tried pumping, but this became unrealistic and painful. Breastfeeding is painful. Pumping is painful. No one talks about this. Not to mention the hormones and the sweating and the leaking that accompany it. For one of the first times in my life, I felt well and truly out of my league, and I was devastated. I felt deprived and guilty and embarrassed. I had so much shame about being half-naked, when trying to feed the girls, so I would sequester myself for privacy. But then I felt lonely. There was not a single part of breastfeeding/pumping that I enjoyed, except for the intellectual experience of knowing my children got breast milk. But let me tell you folks, it was not enough to outweigh the difficulties, but then I felt like a bad mom. Like I said, if I was going to be completely honest, I still feel really horrible about it, but I just had to tell myself I would get to try it again next round.
3) Now let’s talk medical bills and insurance issues because I’m sure that everyone wants to deal with her insurance company right after she’s given birth, and her husband has gone back to work. Now I may have had slightly more trouble than most because I had twins, but my insurance company kept denying my claims because they were “duplicates.” This infuriated me. Like, LOOK AT YOUR PAPERWORK; THERE WERE TWO CHILDREN! Fighting with my insurance company, while my pediatrician’s office demanded payment for denied claims, while my children screamed in the background, and I was still recovering from a c-section was not my idea of fun. P.S I’m still dealing with pregnancy and delivery bills, and it’s been over a year since the girls were born. Not fun at all.
4) The hormones don’t stop with pregnancy! I went through a 6-9 week detox before I felt more like myself again. I went through the full gamut of hormones and emotions that I went through with pregnancy: sweating, nausea, vomiting, rage (ya, I wasn’t really one of those weepy ladies, but boy my husband could set me off, and he almost never deserved it).
5) I never anticipated how lonely being a mother could be. I thought I would be too busy to be lonely, but when everyone else is at work 9-5, what was I to do? I was prepared for my nights and weekends to change. Luckily, I’ve never been much of a partier, so having a legitimate reason to be home early (and go to bed early!) was amazing. It was the time I spent alone Monday through Friday that surprised me. I was the bread winner before I became pregnant, and my career was very important to me. Once I had the girls, a lot of things changed, and I was home 6am-6pm by myself. The days were very long. I wasn’t even overwhelmed; I just wanted someone to talk to. I looked into mommy groups, but it wasn’t really my thing. I had some distant friends with kids, but everyone seemed too overwhelmed to set up a playdate. I tried to just wait it out until my close friends had kids, but it looked like they would catch up with round two. I couldn’t wait that long. Luckily, I WAS able to find a solution to this problem. First, I went back to work 2 days a week. This guaranteed at least two days where I did not have spit up on me, I had adult conversation, and I got to use my brain. Second, I joined a gym, and it changed my life. I made an appointment for every day I wasn’t at work. It allowed me to work out, shower, and eat, all in one place. Now, for you new moms, isn’t that always the dream? To exercise, be groomed, and fed? This also gave me another social outlet where I have built a community of people with whom I can interact and share my life.
Becoming a mom was hard, but not for the obvious reasons (fatigue, stress, worry). It was hard because I felt woefully unprepared, and even, at the time, a little lied to. I felt like women should have talked about the difficult parts more. Where were the uncomfortable conversations about the first bowel movement post delivery? Nowhere because those topics are considered inappropriate. And the LAST thing you want to do as a new mom is prowl the internet for information. You’ll try to diagnose all these problems you don’t have, creating more stress and anxiety.
So we are really only left with each other. Women talking to women about what’s really going on. I hope I can be a support to you; I hope we can be a support for each other.