Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Cold Hard Facts

Back in February, I told y'all about our friends, Matt and Erica, who were getting ready to have their first child. Well, d-day is tomorrow. The baby is breech and Erica is a tiny little thing, so they've scheduled a c-section. After I gave her the little book I made in which I compiled y'all's excellent advice, she noticed that I had not given her any advice myself and asked me to contribute something. I ended up telling her a few things, but here's what I wanted to tell her -- and I'm only putting this down here now because I'm pretty sure she's not going to read it tonight:

Y'all, that shit is hard! THAT's what I wish somebody had told me. Oh sure, they tell you it's the toughest job you'll ever love (the Army SO stole that from mothers). It's so challenging but it's so rewarding. Blah blah blah.

Nobody ever told me that it was going to be THAT hard. Nobody told me that there would be days when I dreamed -- awake of course because you never sleep -- about running away. Nobody told me that there would be days I would call my SIL, mother already to three, wailing "All he ever wants to do is nurse! I feel like that's ALL.I.DO." Nobody told me that when I went to lie down so that I could "sleep when the baby sleeps" that my ears would be constantly straining for his cry, wondering "Was that him? Did he squeak? Oh for the love of God, just go to sleep for five minutes so I CAN SLEEP." Nobody told me that, vigilant as I was for it's signs, that I would suffer from a mild case of postpartum depression. And that making that phone call to get help would be one of the hardest things I would ever do, even though I am an avid proponent of therapy in all forms.

And that's not really fair, you know? Somebody SHOULD tell you how hard it is. It's like sending you into battle with no map, no weapons, without even knowing what battle is. I think if I had had any inkling of how hard those first days, weeks, heck even months, were going to be, then I might have been better prepared. Less likely to question myself. More willing to seek help instead of thinking that I could, should, do it all myself. Less likely to beat myself up if something didn't work. Nothing about becoming a parent comes easy, but maybe knowing that would have made it easier somehow.

So should we tell soon-to-be-parents all of our horror stories? Or do we keep it a secret, making it some whacked out rite of passage that everybody has to go through? Or would we just be scaring them to death? Do they HAVE to learn it for themselves?

I don't know. Hindsight is, of course, 20-20. But I kind of wish I had known.

Updated to add: Matt and Erica's baby girl was born at 9:47 this morning. She weighed 7 lbs 10oz and everybody is doing great. And even though I wrote about how hard it all was, when I got the news I got a little teary eyed and all I could think was "Awwww....it's so wonderful." I should just shut my piehole.

13 comments:

Susan at One-Woman Show said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan at One-Woman Show said...

"Nobody ever told me that it was going to be THAT hard. Nobody told me that there would be days when I dreamed -- awake of course because you never sleep -- about running away."

Wow, this is the truth, MQ. I agree it would have helped to have had someone give you the real low-down, but would I have listened or even come close to understanding? I think it's one of those things that, horror stories and all, one can't even begin to grasp until she faces it head on.

Boy, it does sound like a war theme, doesn't it?! Fortunately, there are a few moments of peace thrown in, and perspective with the next child(ren) if you have more than one.

(Sorry, I deleted my original entry because I seemed to have missed taking my good grammar/English pill this morning. Not sure this is much better...)

Great, honest post.

calicobebop said...

I was tempted to impart all of my horrific stories on expecting friends, but refrained. I just keep telling my friends who are new moms to remember that it's THEIR family.

Most of my "new mom" friends are worried about expectations from friends, family and the general public. I always say "it's your family, do what works for you guys. I'll never judge."

Though I am tempted to warm about the hallucinations I experienced after going three weeks with zero sleep... :)

1blueshi1 said...

we can tell them, but there is nothing like experiencing the horror and the joy firsthand. now when the kids act up or things start leaping into their handbasket to head for hell around here, I like to laugh maniacally (?) and say to the DH, let's have ANOTHER baby!
NOT. SO. MUCH. I am also fond of telling the DH that I can't have another baby until HE grows up.
Boy it's easy to see what that man loves about me. It must be my charm. And how easy to get along with I am. Lucky for me he shares those qualities. The charm. And the even temperedness (falls off chair from laughing so hard)

Fannie Mae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fannie Mae said...

I'm FIRMLY in the "don't tell" camp. No first time expectant mother REALLY wants to hear it and they won't believe you anyway. Just be there later to commiserate. And remind them that once they're teenagers? They'll not only sleep through the night, but likely the day as well!

Shamelessly Sassy said...

Nobody told me how hard it was going to be either. Do you think we just didn't get the memo about it? or it just got lost?

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I think you know I belong in the "Tell it all" group. I personally find relief in those little moments when I'm struggling and then remember something somebody else said that was similar. We all struggle at times and to gloss it over, I think, is to do a disservice to those who are on their way there. They won't fully understand what you're saying until they live it anyway.

Laurel said...

I'm with One Woman Show. They'd never believe you anyway. I remember when I was getting married and people would try to tell me how hard it was going to be. I nodded politely, but in my head I just said, "Yeah, but you probably have a terrible marriage." or "Yeah, but you are not us, and we're really in love." Something along those lines. Now when anyone gets married, I just smile and giggle a little to myself wishing them luck.

It's the same with kids. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think, "Man, I thought I would be better at this." Yeah, keep smiling, giggling, and wishing me lots and lots of luck.

Jonny's Mommy said...

This part right here...."All he ever wants to do is nurse! I feel like that's ALL.I.DO." Nobody told me that when I went to lie down so that I could "sleep when the baby sleeps" that my ears would be constantly straining for his cry, wondering "Was that him? Did he squeak? Oh for the love of God, just go to sleep for five minutes so I CAN SLEEP."

Oh yeah. that was me and dang it .. no one told me. That and sleeping while he slept meant not getting anything done that I couldn't do when he was awake! aargh!

Leslie said...

I agree with the other comments that you can't fully understand what it's like until you're there. I did have several friends call me after Birdie was born, however, to check on me. That was really helpful because then when they said, "breastfeeding doesn't come naturally; give yourself some time to decide if it's for you" or "some days are just really hard and you just have to give yourself a break" I could understand and accept what they were saying. I've tried to do that for a new dad that I work with by asking "How's it going? Be honest." He told me recently that his childless friends don't want to hear how hard it is and that it's been helpful to vent sometimes.

ImpostorMom said...

It is wonderful and so very hard at the same time!

Colleen said...

Tell her (if you haven't already)...maybe not as graphically as you described...go easy first, but you might want to tell her.
That first night home with Gavin was AWFUL! He screamed the entire night...wasn't hungry, didn't need to be changed, just needed to be walked up-and-down the hallway...which I didn't have the strength to do because of my bad tear...which Justin didn't have the patience to do because he was never really around babies. When my mom made it in from Chicago the next day, I cried my silly head off...asking her how she did it when she was only 20. She said she was too young and stupid to know better...and that it WAS hard, just I was too little (I was the baby...ha ha) to remember it. It made me feel so much better to know that I was not the first mom who couldn't physically get her baby to calm down. That eventually became my mantra: "I'm not the only mom going through this. Thousands and thousands of other moms have gone through this. I will not be the last mom to go through this. I WILL GET THROUGH THIS."
That got me through nursing issues, got me through leaving my kids at daycare, got me through Thrush, got me through Cooper's colic, and various illnesses with both kids.