prenatal delusions v. post-natal realities

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When I was pregnant with Arlo I tried to keep my hopes low for things like magical sleeping schedules or a return to my pre-pregnancy body. But underneath it all I had dreams that some things might just go my way. After all, I had other moms tell me stories of no stretch marks and parents tell me their secret to having EVERY SINGLE CHILD sleep through the night. Plus I had two previous babies of my own to remind me how great babies can be once you break the baby code.

Then I had Arlo, and I realized the people who told these magical stories were liars. Including my own brain. I’m now positive that my brain decided some baby Mason and Milo memories were just too traumatic and subsequently deleted them.

So now that I’m four months wiser, but not quite removed enough to let my brain fully delete the truth, I’m going to share my biggest baby delusions versus realities.

  1. My baby will sleep through the night

Mason never slept through the night until…I don’t even know how long (thanks, brain). Milo I know was still waking up at night around two years. This memory will stay with me because at the time we were between selling and buying a home, which forced us to live with my parents for a few months. A living situation where I got my exercise racing up two flights of stairs in the middle of the night to try to get him back to sleep before he woke up my parents.

This was my past, yet my delusional brain listened to all the parents around me sharing how their baby slept through the night at like two weeks. It also added the memory that Mason slept better in a carseat and Milo in a rocking swing. All I had to do was get something similar for Arlo from the start and maybe he’d, you know, “sleep like a baby.”

After four months of sharing nighttime baby woes with other parents, I have been awakened to the reality that there are two types of babies: Those who have parents that suffer through sleepless nights, and those who have parents that lie.

2. I will not look like Kate Middleton after delivery

Yes, Kate Middleton always looks amazing, but you know how after she had her baby and she basically still looked pregnant? I didn’t judge her, I just wondered how that happened. I certainly didn’t remember it happening to me after I had babies. Sure, I had a nagging thought that returning to pre-body in my early 30’s would not be the same as it had been in my early 20’s. But at the same time, I’m pretty sure my body wouldn’t look like that.

The truth is after about a week Milo asked why my stomach still looked pregnant and Mason told him it was because another baby was in there still.

Maternity clothes aren’t just for pregnant people apparently. Also I sort of wished I had done a bunch of timeline photos like women do to show their belly growing, only opposite to show how these past four months have taken me from post-baby belly to food-baby belly.

3. Nursing, if done correctly, will be painless and easy

I would describe my history of nursing as less than stellar. Mason was so bad at it that he ended up in a children’s hospital with jaundice. So instead of nursing, I pumped and then fed him. With Milo I tried to prepare myself a little better to avoid solely pumping. My memory of nursing Milo was that it hurt a little in the beginning, but lanolin was a boobs breast friend. (hehe)

This half-memory of nursing, coupled with all those women out there who told me nursing is only painless when done wrong, got my pregnant self believing that I could and should have completely pain-free nursing.

This was probably my worst delusion. Nursing was not pain free at all. In fact, a few days home from the hospital and I was starting to actually fear feeding Arlo because his latching on was so painful it caused a whole lot of grimacing (and a few swears). I seriously tried everything, asked every one, bought every thing… I even watched a couple YouTube videos (a weird area of the internet I do not recommend).

Eventually the pain did go away, and my brain is already hard at work helping me forget those times. But I think what made this pre-pregnancy delusion most troublesome was the amount of stress it caused for post-pregnancy me. For almost a month I told myself that the pain was my fault; that if I could just figure it out the pain would cease. And I felt like a failure for not getting it right from the start or finding the correct remedy fast enough.

I’m sure there are women out there who have pain-free nursing experiences. But from everything I read (and everyone I talked to) I think there are plenty of women out there who also experience a great deal of pain. And I wish I had known that from the start so that I could have prepared myself a little more and stressed out a little less.

Come to think of it, that’s probably my wish for most of my baby delusions: less stress. Well, ces’t la vie, right?

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