I thought it would be interesting to go through the differences between the expectations I had before having a child compared to the realities of what has actually happened in several categories over the past year. Spoiler alert: I was wrong in several!
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Labor and Delivery
Expectation: I would have an unmedicated birth that would be difficult but would be successful. I thought the contractions would be the hardest part.
Reality: I had an unmedicated birth but the contractions weren’t the part that had me asking for the epidural. It was the pushing sensation that I couldn’t ignore due to the fact that I was only 4 cm when it started. I didn’t end up with the epidural because I went from 4 cm to 10 cm in about 20 minutes and had a baby in another 15 minutes.
Recovery From Childbirth
Expectation: I knew I would be bleeding for several weeks, but I thought it would be the amount of a heavy period. I knew I would be sore, slightly emotional and tired.
Reality: I bled more than I thought was humanly possible without hemorrhaging for about 4 weeks. I also couldn’t walk normally for 2 weeks due to the soreness and exhaustion and emotional is an understatement.
Expectation: I thought that newborns cried a lot after I read The Happiest Baby on the Block. I was all prepared for the 5 S’s and thought we would be using them frequently.
Reality: Aiden didn’t really cry unless he was hungry for the first few months. He eventually grew to cry when he was tired too, but not for the quite a few months. He also got fussier during the Wonder Weeks – especially the 5 and 8 week ones.
Expectation: I thought that Aiden would wake up a few times during the night when he was a newborn and then slowly it would lessen and he would sleep through the night (meaning 6-7 hours) sometime in the first 6 months or so. I also thought that babies napped in their beds 2-3 times per day at this point and it wasn’t a miracle to get them to go to sleep.
Reality: Aiden hasn’t slept through the night yet at 13 months – he’s gotten me up at least 2 times every single night. However, I do see it getting better in the past few nights. It was much more difficult to get him to sleep that anticipated, sometimes trying up to 5 times in the first few months. It was also more difficult to transition from the rock n’ play to the crib. Aiden also didn’t nap unless he was in the stroller, on me nursing or in the car until he was 6 months old and even then they were short 30-45 minute naps a couple times a day.
My Free Time
Expectation: I thought that during nap times, early bed times and later wake times in the mornings that I would have time to myself to do things like workout, blog, clean, drink tea and shower.
Reality: As stated above, there were no nap times until 6 months old, so that wasn’t a possibility at all. He wakes me up 95%+ of the time anywhere from 6-7 am. I would wake up at 5:30-6 am happily on my own if I wasn’t getting up all night with him. With the frequent night time wakings, I go to bed when he does so I can get some coherent sleep. I haven’t had much free time actually!
Expectation: I thought I would workout in the morning before he woke up.
Reality: My husband goes to work at 6 am, so he can’t watch him in the morning while I go to the gym and Aiden and I are on the same sleep schedule still. I hope that changes soon!
Stay-At-Home Versus Working
Expectation: I thought I would continue to work at my acupuncture clinic part-time and transition into more hours as I got busier.
Reality: It turns out marketing and running a business with a newborn isn’t feasible. I called it quits on that segment in my life in October. I am going to start a new job very part-time next week where we will not need childcare (more on that later!).
Expectation: I knew that I was going to breastfeed Aiden and try really hard to make it to a year. I thought it would come natural.
Reality: I didn’t realize how limiting it was on me because I couldn’t leave Aiden longer than 2 hour stretches for a long time unless I pumped, which I could never get very much out of. It was more work to pump enough milk than to just stay at home. I also didn’t realize how much it would hurt in the beginning. I’m so elated that I stuck it out in the beginning because the benefits MUCH outweigh the hardships!
Expectation: I knew that since David was working during the day that I would care for Aiden and then I thought I would go to work in the afternoons and David would have him. I thought we would divide the night time parenting, but I didn’t think the waking up would last this long.
Reality: David tried to help on several occasions, but he couldn’t do the night time parenting because Aiden had to nurse to sleep. I didn’t want to use pumped milk when I was here because it was so hard to get pumped milk. I definitely felt the weight of this on my shoulders and there were times I was resentful.
For more talk on this topic, listen to the podcast!
What was one thing that was harder than you anticipated?
What was one thing that was easier than you anticipated?