Let’s be real: being a first time mom is a job you can never fully prepare for. There are things that happen–especially in those first few months of raising a little one when they are 100% dependent on you–that no one could ever prepare you for or explain to you. In the same vein, there’s really no way to put into words the pure joy and love that also comes with being a mom. It’s the motherhood dichotomy of sorts: so much love and so much unknown.
When we brought our son home from the hospital last fall, I was surprised by pretty much everything that motherhood entailed. Recovering from major surgery? Much harder than I thought. Having to remember to go to the bathroom? Is that like a natural mothering instinct we all have to relearn? Sleeping when the baby sleeps? I could never nap in the middle of the day while our baby slept–or just when I’d fall asleep, he’d be hungry again. Not to mention, the little known fact (at least to me) that the feeding cycle restarts when baby starts eating, not when they finish. So that 2 hour feeding window turns into an hour feeding window in the early days.
We asked our favorite resident experts, our friends and Real Moms, to tell us of the weirdest, most unexpected things they’ve discovered or experienced when it comes to motherhood. Maybe you, as a first time mom, will discover a friend among this group of moms and realize that you’re not actually alone in those feelings! And maybe if you’re expecting your first little one here soon, you’ll be a little more prepared than the rest of us with some of the weird, unexpected things that come along with this mom thing.
What’s the Weirdest Thing You’ve Learned About Motherhood?
“There is a different cream for every orifice of you and baby.” Real Mom Mariah D.
Don’t we know it, moms? A few of our favorites include Boobease Natural Nipple Cream for breastfeeding and pumping mamas, Desitin for diaper rashes, Honest Face and Body Lotion for after bath time (and especially for when all that teething drool irritates their sensitive skin!) and Aquaphor for everything, but especially for taking care of cradle cap.
“I’m more routine oriented than I ever thought I’d be.” Real Mom Megan B.
I didn’t write this, but I feel like I could have. I’ve always been about schedules and lists, but never more so than when I became a first time mom. I remember crying to my husband about three months into the newborn stage that both baby and I were desperate for a schedule. I was so grateful when Christina, my cousin, Real Mom and fellow Registry Finder contributor recommended Moms on Call. The schedule and routine outlined in the book felt simple and adaptable for our little family and saved so much of my sanity in the early days.
“That you count down till bedtime and then miss them when they’re sleeping.” Real Mom Christina P.
Raise your hand if you scroll through photos of your baby after they go to bed. Guilty as charged over here and it’s definitely one of the funniest things about being a mom. When they’re a tiny newborn waking 3 or 4 times in the night you can’t imagine the thought of sleeping long enough to miss them. But once those little babes are going for longer stretches at night, it’s true that you feel crazy enough to want to wake them up just to hang out with them again.
“All the info on how to take care of a baby doesn’t do justice to taking care of a baby.” Real Mom Alivia J.
Read all the books, take all the classes, watch all the YouTube videos. And then, just be a mom. Be the best mom you can be. You were wired up with the instincts it takes to raise your baby. You already have everything you need in you that it takes to be a mom. You can be prepared, but it’ll still be surprising when there’s an actual human to care for!
“Clipping nails is the WORST.” Real Mom Rachel P.
Who knew that babies came out with the longest sharpest nails of all time?! Our postpartum nurses recommended we not clip the nails when our son was tiny and instead recommended these awesome nail files from FridaBaby. They’re curved to help with the daunting task of keeping baby’s nails trimmed enough so they don’t scratch their cute faces.
“Breastfeeding and leaking are weird.” Real Mom Jana R.
“Real Talk- breastfeeding was a strange transition, not just because of the hard work, but because your boobs go from being sexy to being practical overnight.” Real Mom Natalie M.
We wrote a whole post about Real Mom’s Breastfeeding Essentials that you can read here so we couldn’t agree more that breastfeeding is something that we need help with! Like I wrote in that post, I never gave a thought to breastfeeding or researching or preparing so those first few days and weeks of doing it felt like a shot in the dark. Add in the other unexpected (and possibly painful) parts–hot flashes, leaking, chapped nipples, engorgement–and it’s definitely a weird part of the motherhood journey.
“The Windi actually works! Why did I not believe people or want to use it?!? If only I would have sooner.” Real Mom Chrissy B.
The Windi, a clever little invention by FridaBaby (which was actually developed by a pediatric gastroenterologist), is the easiest way to relieve gas and calm colic. No drops or anything else needed when you’re equipped with this safe gaspassing tool.
“My boys figured out how to climb out of their crib almost as soon as they learned how to walk!” Real Mom Anita M.
It’s a slippery slope from crawling to climbing. There’s so much newness for baby to see and explore now that they’re mobile and they’ll do anything to test the limits and experience something new. No longer are they content to lounge in a bouncy seat or lay in DockATot. They are always on the go and looking for the next exciting adventure.
“Braxton is getting a top tooth–not even a front tooth–at 4 months… I mean what the heck!?” Real Mom Chrissy B.
There’s no instruction manual for raising kids or for what to expect in the early stages of babyhood. Anytime my son would put a toy in his mouth or drool a little bit, everyone around us assumed he was teething, but he didn’t break his first tooth until 9 months. Then, there are little buddies like Braxton, who are teething and getting teeth at 4 months old! There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to things like teething. It happens when it happens and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.
“That every kid is drastically different. While one won’t eat any green things, the other can’t get enough. While one may be stubborn as a mule and doesn’t like to share, the other one will give away their treats in love. While one may need no baby proofing at all, the next may need white padded walls because they get into everything.” Real Mom Susan M.
I only have one child, but I can already tell I’ve gotten into a groove with him. He’s easygoing, loves his schedule and will eat anything we serve him. Susan’s response reminds me that mothering is not one size fits all in any sense. Once you’ve figured out one kid, another comes along to break the mold. Getting to know each new kid in each new phase is an adventure and makes motherhood surprising and fun despite all the unknowns!
“One day he likes green beans, the next he hates them.” Real Mom Chrissy B.
Ah, solid food. Another adventure in the land of parenting. Once you get past the baby cereal or oatmeal phase and into purees and solids, it’s all a guessing game full of the unexpected. What will baby eat today? What will they like next week that they’re refusing right now? The best advice: keep giving them new and different things. You never know when they’ll develop a taste for those peas or those berries.
“That it wasn’t as much of a hassle as I thought. Hard, but so worth it, so don’t panic about it!” Real Mom Ashton S.
There’s a lot of fear in first time moms as they near the end of their pregnancies. I remember joking with my OB that I felt great pregnant and asking her if I could just stay pregnant forever. It was labor, delivery and actually raising a child that felt daunting and scary to me. But Ashton is so right- -things have come more naturally than I thought they would, and of course, every moment of falling in love with this little person has been beyond worth it.
Here’s what I think is one of the weirdest parts of motherhood: no two kids, no two moms, no two birth stories, no two feeding journeys, no two sets of parents are the same. Everyone’s story is wildly different. It’s a gift to me to have a community of friends and family to raise our baby alongside, to share stories with and to realize that babies do every single thing at different times in different ways. There’s no manual. There’s no how-to guide or checklist. There’s just real moms, like these ones who’ve shared with us today, who are doing the best they can with what they’ve got and loving their babies.
If you’re a mom-to-be on the brink of this unexpected and surprising motherhood journey, you’ll love our other Ask a Real Mom posts on our GiveIt Blog. You’ll also love using our Registry Finder tool at RegistryFinder.com, a place where your friends, family and baby shower guests will be able to access all your registries in one place for easy gift giving.