Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What Has Surprised Me About Becoming a Mom

Becoming a parent is one of those things that you think a lot about in advance of it happening. But like many "big" life changes, it's not something you can truly prepare for. You learn by doing.

As I've adjusted to becoming a mom, I've tried to keep an open mind. But as a planner, I had of course tried to envision how I would feel and how my life would change. And there have been plenty of surprises along the way! Here are some of the biggest ones - with some photos of Paul sprinkled in!

We love fall walks!

1. I did not get bored during maternity leave. I had multiple people tell me they got bored during their maternity leave and felt really ready to go back to work. That was so not the case for me and truth be told, I wish I was still on maternity leave. Granted the lack of a schedule did bother me at times but I just learned to embrace it and accept that not all babies follow a schedule. It was hard to not be able to plan things but I knew my time at home with Paul was going to be brief so I embraced the days at home with him. I think part of the reason I didn't get bored was because we had so many doctor appointments between Paul and me. Also, joining the new mom group helped as that got us out of the house twice a week for 6 weeks in March/April and we continued to meet up with the other moms and babies about weekly until late May.

All smiles for daddy when he came home from work

2. I have no time to exercise. Oh my, I had unrealistic expectations about exercise during the first year of parenting. I have felt a sense of shame about not having time to exercise but when I examine my schedule, I realize it's just not something I will have time for until I stop pumping. I mentioned that I don't have time to exercise when I went to lunch with some female coworkers last month and they said, "of course you don't have time to exercise during the first year of parenting! We didn't either!" So it made me feel slightly better that women with a schedule similar to mine weren't able to find time to exercise either. I had (wrongly) been comparing my life to other moms with different work schedules/lengths of maternity leave. Comparison is the thief of joy but I need to remind myself of that over and over and over again. I'm reminding myself that this current stage is temporary and eventually I'll get some time back to myself in the evening when I am done pumping and/or when Paul sleeps better as then I won't need to go to bed so dang early (I strive to be in bed with lights out at 9 which means I need to start my bedtime routine by 8:30 to give myself time to wind down).

Petting our friend's new kitty who is VERY kid-friendly! Paul also met his first dog that day!

3. I miss my baby so much during the work day. I had no idea how hard it would be to be away from Paul for so many hours during the week. This is exacerbated by the fact that he doesn't nap well at daycare so needs to go to bed an hour after we get home. We wake him up about 10-15 minutes before Phil leaves to drop him off at daycare so I don't get much time with him before work either (Phil leaves the house at 6:55 so it doesn't make sense to wake him up any earlier than absolutely necessary!).

He doesn't like most solids that he tries but loved pickles from the first taste!

4. I don't feel like going out on dates with Phil. Everyone tells you that it's important to make time for your spouse when you are a parent and I whole-heartedly agree with this. Before we had Paul I thought we'd have regular dates, like maybe once a month or something? But the reality is that neither of us really want to go anywhere once Paul is in bed. We're tired and babysitters are expensive. The one we use is $15/hour. She's great and the peace of mind of having Paul in the care of a competent babysitter is worth every penny but we don't really want to pay $15/hour + the cost of a meal out. Instead we consider the time we spend together after Paul goes to bed our "quality time." Honestly, a lot of the time we are sitting side by side on the couch, watching something on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I think I might feel differently about this when Paul is in a more challenging stage, like around 2?? Who knows. It's hard to predict how we will feel in the future but for now, at home "dates" are our jam.

What's on the menu mom?

5. I don't need a break from Paul. This one ties into the lesson above. Because we have so little time with Paul and because he's in such a fun, happy stage, I don't need a 'break' from him. I felt differently when I was on maternity leave and was caring for him around the clock, 7 days a week. I welcomed the occasional night off from bedtime or getting out of the house to run errands, go to Target, or get a coffee. Now I don't want any time away from him - even for something relaxing like a massage. Not wanting to be away from Paul has made it hard for me to make time for friends, unless I can bring Paul with. I still value my friendships, but right now family time is more important than anything else. Luckily my friends are happy to have Paul join us for get togethers but that only works if we get together during the day since he goes to bed at 6pm.

Enjoying some playtime outside after work
6. Pumping/breast feeding does not result in losing all of the pregnancy weight. I thought that the calories burned from pumping would mean that I'd lose the pregnancy weight super fast - especially since I did not put much on in the first place. That has not been the case for me. I'm still carrying about 8 extra pounds. Some friends have told me they didn't lose the rest of the pregnancy weight until they stopped breast feeding/pumping so maybe that will be the case for me as well. I'm kind of giving myself a pass on focusing on losing the rest of the weight until I'm done pumping as then I will have more time to exercise and I won't have to worry about eating enough to sustain my milk supply.

What lessons have you learned after going through a big life change?


Marlys said...

There are so many changes in one's life when you become parents, and the feelings you have are very normal. It is never easy to leave one's child in the care of other people, so understand your need to spend all your spare time with him. Everything about your life right now is the new normal, and it's a good normal!
Don't stress about your weight loss right now, as you will have more time when you don't have to pump, and can eat a lighter calorie diet.
Right now, just enjoy your hours with Paul and everything else, except Phil(!) takes a back seat!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I was surprised by nearly all of these things as well, lol. I had to lower my expectations significantly regarding working out and accept mostly weight things that can be done with the kids playing around me. Even that I didn't do until Max was 1.5-2ish. I hang out with my friends almost entirely with our kids around (or friends without kids visit me- again with my kids around). Oh well :) It's just a season!

Emilie said...

I can relate to every single one of these. My biggest struggle has been not wanting to leave Noah (and now Owen!) in the care of anyone else. Part of it is that I don’t want to be away from them and part of it is that I don’t trust anyone else so I have a lot of anxiety when I do go out. This is a huge bone of contention with my mom but oh well. I also struggle with things not being done “my way” when it comes to caring for my kids. I’m particular about a lot so it’s very hard when someone handles or speaks to Noah differently than I would.

I did lose the last of the baby weight when Noah weaned. Nursing never was the magical weight loss tool for me that it is for many people! And I never, ever exercise anymore. I don’t even know when I’d do it.

Charbelle said...

Hugs! I've thought so much about you and how crazy busy your life must be right now. From what I understand from my friends all these feelings are what they have experienced too. This first year goes so quickly! I LOVE the pictures!!! He truly is such a happy fun boy!!! I LOVE his many expressions!!! No matter how it looks I don't think anyone ever has it all truly together. We all have different seasons and each one is going to look different.

Carolina John said...

This is actually my favorite part of the "new parent" phenomenon. I love it. Everyone (including me) read all the books, so you think you know what you're getting into, then everything comes at you like a complete surprise. Accepting the new chaos of parenting is not something that I've been able to replicate anywhere else. {{{hugs}}}

btw, it sounds like you're starting to contemplate being a stay-at-home-mom full time? Am I reading that wrong?

Stephany said...

I think you're doing great! Being a working mom with a small baby is no easy feat, and you're figuring it out, one step at a time. <3

San said...

I can only imagine how many things were "different" from what you've anticipated after becoming a mom... I don't have first-hand experience, obviously, but some things in life you really can't know/understand until you've gone through them.
Having said that, I think you're doing amazing.

Stevie said...

I love reading posts like this. I'm not a mother, but we hope to start a family in the next year or two. Everyone's experience is vastly different and I think it's so important to share experiences of motherhood/parenthood as well as how your experience has differed from your expectations. I appreciate your openness and honesty about everything you've shared so far! And I appreciate all the adorable photos of Paul :-)

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

After going through big life changes I have learned that life is not something we can plan out, as it often doesn't go according to plan, and that the surprises are some of the best parts of life.

katielookingforward said...

I love these lessons! I think some people do need the workouts or the date nights for their peace of mind, but if you are more at ease by not doing those things, that is awesome! I could see myself doing more door dash to try restaurant food while still staying home, which is not something I currently do since its easier for me to just go out as its just me right now.

Amber said...

It's so funny because the crazy thing about being moms is we all are going through the "same" experience that is so different. We have such different experiences with pregnancy, labour and delivery, breastfeeding and then not to mention our kids are all so different!!

I definitely did get bored sometimes on maternity leave BUT not as much as I thought I would and my maternity leave was also twice as long as yours! And it wasn't so much a "I have nothing to do" bored but more of a "I'm tired of being home and spending all day with a ___ month old" bored. Ha. I also definitely did feel the need to have breaks from Olivia. And now I'm too early back at work to judge how I will feel, plus only working 3 days a week and for less hours makes my experience soooo different from yours. However, after 6 straight days apart from her I definitely felt like / wanted to hang out with her all day today!

And for me I have managed to lose the pregnancy weight but I'm super nervous about what will happen when I'm fully done BF'ing. Now we're only doing it 2-3 times per day, so I'm not really sure how much of a difference it's making. But I am worried the combination of stopping that + being back at work and sitting more might lead to some weight gain, so I am going to try and be super intentional about what I eat over the coming months.

It's been super fun to go through this mom journey right alongside you though and compare things that are the same and different for both of us!!