In the Ladies Room

I went for a run today at lunch. (It was ugly and glorious at the same time, but that isn’t the point of this post.) When I was finished, I de-grossed myself in the locker room at my office.

As I stepped out of the shower, I overheard two women talking. One of them was clearly pregnant and the other one has two small children. As you might expect, the woman with kids was giving first-time mom all the advice she could spare. Which was a lot.

The advice was, shockingly, not bad. Among these nuggets of wisdom were:

  • Don’t feel bad about dropping your kid off at daycare. This doesn’t make you a bad person.
  • Only allow people to visit you if they promise to bring you food. (Ha! I wish I had thought of that one…)
  • You and your child may not be able to breastfeed. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing it.
  • Someday you will sleep again.
  • When you’re on maternity leave, plan to meet with adults. You can’t baby talk all day.

I just had to join in the fun, didn’t I? Because. Well, I have a big mouth.

“And then there are times when it is fine. I mean, I didn’t have any problem breastfeeding and my kid has slept through the night since he was 3 months old.”

 

No one ever wants to hear this. I’m not kidding, people have told me that I shouldn’t mention it because other moms will hate me. (Direct quote. For serious.) The moment I said it, I realized I do kinda sound like a dick. I’m not trying to brag, honest. I won the sleeping baby lottery, and I know that.

The point I was trying to make is this: I spent a lot of time worrying about things that everyone told me would be awful… the not sleeping, the hours of breastfeeding, the crying, the projectile bodily fluids. In retrospect, I worried about a lot of things that never actually happened to me. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have challenges. But I also think so many new parents spend their time focusing on the horror stories– what could go wrong– that we don’t realize that it is entirely plausible that parenting a newborn isn’t 100% sucky.

I also don’t want to imply that when things are hard, they aren’t waaaaay hard. Layer on hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and a tiny human being that literally needs you to survive… Yeah, that can turn into a shit show. There are times when I didn’t eat for 6 hours because Chick’s needs came first. There are times when I cried crazy chest-heaving sobs because it all felt so hard.

Perhaps what I was really saying was that parenting is hard, but it isn’t always the same hard for everyone. It doesn’t do anyone good to start convincing themselves that all the “bad” things will happen to them. Sometimes it actually will be okay.

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7 comments

  1. InfertileGirl · February 25, 2016

    I hit the sleep lotto as well, but I never mention it to anyone, lest I jinx it or get stabbed in the eye by another mom who hasn’t had a full nights sleep in years. Even my baby’s ped. made a sarcastic comment (in a joking, nice way) about how lucky I am when he asked about her longest stretch of sleep at night and I said, “uh 11 hours”. It is definitely not all bad. When it’s hard, it’s really rough but when it’s good life is so sweet.

    • thecommonostrich · February 26, 2016

      Exactly. I’m also just over this whole idea that we need to terrify new parents with how hard this is. It often comes from a good place– reminding parents that they are not terrible failures if their baby doesn’t sleep/eat/poop/whatever just like everyone else. But unfortunately it ends up sounding like a Scared Straight intervention…

  2. My Perfect Breakdown · February 25, 2016

    I love that you spoke up! Seriously! Like you, our little one loves to sleep and is really just a chill baby. No, it’s not perfect and we have our hard moments, but it’s also not all bad. (Interestingly, I too have been told not to tell other mom’s that Baby MPB sleeps well because they will hate me).

    • thecommonostrich · February 26, 2016

      Yeah, I debated it but I’ve never been one to keep my mouth shut. I’m soooo happy Baby MPB is doing well. I can’t wait for more updates on your adventures in parenthood!

  3. C.L. · February 26, 2016

    I don’t have a problem with moms gloating about their sleeping babies. I understand all babies are different and I got one that just loves to be awake. But when it is said in front of my husband, it sends him into some sort of downward baby comparison why aren’t we doing things right and why is our baby defective spiral that yes, it makes me want to punch people. It’s dealing with him that’s difficult. I’ve totally accepted my non sleeping fate and know it will eventually change. Just chalking it all up to experience 🙂

  4. thecommonostrich · February 26, 2016

    Well, hells yes to that… The baby comparison thing is real and ugly. It can be triggered by just about anything too, not just sleep. I made a comment about how Chick was reaching for something, and a co-worker started talking about how his child wasn’t doing that BUT was doing advanced calculus (or something equally as bizarre.) I didn’t mean to cause a crisis of faith in his child’s development, but there you have it.

  5. Amalia · March 1, 2016

    I think there’s a world of difference between being reassuring to an expectant mom that things like sleep may not be completely terrible, and telling sleep-deprived mothers of babies who are up at all hours that your baby slept through the night at three months. I totally agree that moms-to-be don’t need to be made to worry any more than they already are, and that people are far too competitive with their children’s milestones. Sleep-deprivation is a totally unique thing though. It’s not just your child who is not doing something yet, it’s your own health and well-being that is being affected on a nightly basis. My oldest child did not reliably sleep through the night (and by sleep through the night I mean until 5am) until he was 15 months old, and I thought I was going to lose my mind (think two or three wake-ups every night). I have a coworker with a child around the same age, who, in those early months, after asking me each morning how we had all slept, would tell me how great it was that hers slept 12 hours straight every night. Worse yet were the mornings when she’d complain about how tired she was when he’d only slept for 10. I wanted to throw things at her. In my desperately sleep-deprived state, it was like a stab in the gut every time she uttered the words “12 hours.”

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