Lots of people become experts on being a mom the minute you tell them you're pregnant. You find yourself inundated with unsolicited advice. Although some of that advice is spot-on, some is pure revisionist thinking.
These are the nine myths about becoming a mom that I've learned first-hand:
So not true. It's not a glow. It's not a radiance. It's just excess oil that accompanies the pregnancy hormones – the hormones that make you want to nap or cry or complain about the smell of things. The "glow" is just one of the many surprises that will emanate from your body during pregnancy.
Well, childbirth is a miracle if by "miracle" you mean something akin to pushing a grapefruit out of one nostril accompanied by various and sundry liquids. The baby is a miracle, for sure, but the act of giving birth is more like a scene out of a horror movie, complete with anxiety and blood and fear.
You will only forget the pain of childbirth if you actually ingest the drugs they offer you after the birth of your baby and then never stop taking those drugs. But if you stop taking the drugs, you'll remember in vivid detail (and real time) the pain of those contractions. And you may remember your husband chatting up the nurse as you groaned in pain every 90 seconds for hours on end. Those memories may or may not dissuade you from having another child but the myth about forgetting about those many hours of labor is just that. A myth.
Your breasts will get bigger. And then they'll get even bigger. Just after you have the baby they will feel like they are going to explode and then they will become the size of mixing bowls and become as hard as rocks. Giant concrete mixing bowl rock boobs. Don't even waste your time listening to anyone tell you how applying hot washcloths will alleviate that problem.
As soon as you start feeling confident that you know how to take care of a newborn, that newborn will morph into a different creature with different needs entirely. As soon as you master the handling and care of a sedentary baby, the baby will start traveling around your home and finding lots of interesting things to get into.
Each stage will present new challenges that you will feel ill-prepared to handle but people will tell you that you'll figure it out. Which is true, up to and until that child becomes a teenager. Then all bets are off and you will really be on your own in uncharted territory. With an alien.
That's right. In no time ever on this planet will you get your pre-baby body back. You may get back to the same weight you were before you were pregnant but various body parts will have shifted and descended toward the floor. You may get that pre-baby body back and then some more body around the middle that accompanies the pre-baby body for the rest of your life.
You'll never get a good night's sleep ever again for the rest of your life. You will have one eye open and one ear to the ground forevermore, wondering if your child is so quiet because he's up to something. Or wondering if the reason the coughing stopped was because he's choking. But none of those reasons will deprive you of sleep as much as when he gets his driver's license.
So forget about sleeping. Ever. Again.
If you enjoy living in squalor amid mounds of dirty diapers, go ahead and nap when the baby naps. If you don't mind giving up your chance to jump in the shower or empty the dishwasher, go ahead and nap when the baby naps. But if you don't have wads of domestic help or anyone dropping off dinner, you may need to accomplish something when the baby naps.
You may need to prepare for the trial that's starting on the day you get back from maternity leave. Or you may just need to talk to someone who can talk back. (Ha! You'll laugh about feeling that way when your baby becomes a teenager who has developed an affinity for talking back.)
OMFG. Before I became a mother, I wanted to hear from my new mom friends about how their baby was doing and how they were doing – for about 5 minutes. Then I wanted to talk about world events, or our mutual friend "Alice who has no life skills," or the horrible boss who tried but failed to fire me. Anything other than talk about babies, feedings, bodily fluids, or belly button tethers falling off.
I tried to remember that after I became a new mom but I think the hormones wiped out my pre-baby memory so I probably babbled on and on about my baby.