There are a lot of thoughts a new mom has when they put that brand new baby in her arms for the first time. It’s a feeling of relief that the pregnancy is over, and that you finally get to meet your baby, but it’s also a feeling of slight panic.
After all, everyone around you has been peppering you with advice from the moment you announced you were growing a human. Some of it was annoying, some cliché, but when you’re a new mom, you listen with intent ears hanging on to every little tidbit in the hopes you’ll get this parenting thing right.
But parents are being lied to. The lies are what I like to call “pretty lies” because they are meant to help us, but that angry, red-faced little screamer at 2 a.m. tells a different story, and sometimes, we lose confidence. But maybe these half-truths are necessary to keep us optimistic and hopeful that we’ll survive it.
1. You can sleep when the baby sleeps.
You could also shower when the baby sleeps, or quiet your racing mind as you watch the baby sleep hoping that they don’t die in their sleep. You could also wash some underwear because that’s a necessary life event, or you could enjoy the rest of that pie someone brought you all by yourself with no one watching. The truth is, there are lots of things to do when the baby sleeps, and sleeping is something hard to do when all you want to do is celebrate with that pie in your kitchen because the baby is finally freaking asleep. And also because you’re starving because you forgot to feed yourself.
2. If you breastfeed, the baby weight will fall off.
Sorry, mamas, this is not always true. For some, it totally is. But those are probably some of the same women who can eat cheesecake for breakfast and will lose the weight quickly because they were born with the gift of good metabolism. For me, breastfeeding made me eat like a ravenous bear just out of hibernation. I wanted chocolate in quantities that could fill a small barge, and my hormones made me want to eat all the things. All. Of. Them. Needless to say, I couldn’t lose weight until I stopped breastfeeding.
3. Enjoy it. It goes so fast.
Lies. Well, sort of. Looking back, sure, it goes fast kind of like that 11-hour stomach bug you had that felt like 11 days, but now that it’s over, sure, it went fast. Babies are sleep-stealers, and they explode poop when you’re finally showing them off to your best, childless friend, and they cry more than a contestant on The Bachelor. Add up no sleep, violent bomb-like poop explosions, and a cute tiny person who becomes hysterical for no reason you can determine, and it doesn’t feel fast. It feels long. Crazy long.
4. Breastfeeding is beautiful, and the baby will figure it out.
Add to this other lies like, “it’s easy,” or “you’ll love it,” and moms can be left feeling a little discouraged about breastfeeding. It is natural, and some babies do figure it out. But it’s also a lot of damn work. It’s hard, it’s messy, and it hurts. Some babies aren’t naturally inclined. You will sometimes feel like a milk machine when your boob squirts across the room, and I had to wear pads around the clock to keep from embarrassing myself. Did I love it? Eventually. But did it feel natural right away? No. Every baby is different, and every mom’s body is different. So, don’t think you’re doing it wrong if it doesn’t feel picture perfect.
5. The first few months are the best.
They are, but they are also the hardest. I dealt with postpartum depression and cried a lot. It wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time. I felt broken and alone, and scared. My anxiety was outright scary at times, and I felt like a feeding machine. But, we tell moms this because they kind of are the best too. Seeing the first smiles, and watching them find their fingers and toes are miraculous things for sure, but there are still lots of good things ahead. So don’t feel guilty if you don’t feel like it’s the best right now.
6. It gets easier.
In all honesty, I kind of like this lie because it helps new moms keep going, but it doesn’t necessarily get easier. It gets…different. When your baby starts walking, it’s a new kind of hard. And when they start talking, you wonder why you were dying for them to learn how. It doesn’t really get easier at all. But you figure things out, and you grow, and so does your baby despite your feelings and fears of being inadequate.
The truth is, the lies are more half-truths, and they help us keep putting one foot in front of the other doing the hardest job on earth. And we grow, and they grow, and it’s all a big beautiful mess that we’ll one day look back on with rose-colored glasses. I can’t wait for that.