10 things no one tells you before baby

I’ve had a busy week spending time with lots of other lovely mommas chatting about babies and life after babies. A common theme of discussion were the things no one seems to tell you (or you don’t seem to hear) before you have a baby, that you end up experiencing after. So I thought I would share a few today to help those of you that don’t have babies yet, or let those of you that do know that your experience is normal. You aren’t alone!

10 things no one tells you before you have a baby | charlie by Jennifer Roper Photography

  1. You are not happy all the time.  Having a baby is a joyful thing and an amazing experience. You will be congratulated and celebrated with so much happiness from others. But you? You won’t always feel happy. Sometimes you might feel downright sad, overwhelmed, angry, bitter, bitchy, or any combination of negative emotions. That is totally normal, and we’ve all been there. Unless you cry everyday or all the time, then you might have postpartum depression. I did, and you can read about my experience here. This is also very common and nothing to be ashamed of, just talk to your doctor so you can start to feel better.
  2. Hormones are a bitch.  You hear all about the hormones when you’re pregnant, and everyone understands why you are emotional and let’s it go, but no one talks about how those hormones don’t leave you when the baby does. And you know what – the hormones are MUCH worse. I would go so far as to say hormones after baby are like pregnancy hormones on steroids. And they last a while. I still feel them sometimes. Once you realize that the dragon lady inside you is not you just being a bitch, it feels much better. Because you can’t help it, you can’t control it, and you can explain it. Not everyone will understand why you’re such a bitch, but at least you will.
  3. People aren’t nice to you anymore.  Remember how when you’re pregnant people hold the door for you, give up their seat on the train, smile at you everywhere you go?  Well once that baby is out of you, you get the opposite treatment.  People get annoyed by your slow stroller, your crying baby, your disheveled appearance.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled to open a door at a store while trying to push my stroller through, and how many people will just walk right through the same door without helping.  Even though you are the same woman with the same baby as you were when pregnant, to them you’re that lady with the kid that is slowing them down or getting in their way.  10 things no one tells you before you have a baby | charlie by Jennifer Roper Photography
  4. Losing the baby weight is HARD.  You know those girls who say they lost the baby weight in 2 months by breastfeeding and chasing their kid around? Well, they LIE (or they have A LOT of help and amazing genes). While breastfeeding does burn a lot of calories (IF breastfeeding is going well and a normal experience for you – if you struggle with it, have to supplement, etc. then the calorie burn is less) it also makes you ravenously hungry and you eat more. And unless you have an older child, you certainly aren’t chasing your newborn around. Not to mention you are sleep deprived and often fuel yourself with whatever is within arms reach to get through those early days. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t think you’re going to be back in regular clothes after you have the baby. You might wear your maternity jeans for a bit. You might live in yoga pants.  You might still have baby weight to lose when your baby is a toddler (raising my hand on this one). It’s all OK.
  5. Your boobs will never be the same.  They just won’t. Take a photo of them now so you can look back at them longingly.  I wish I had (mostly so I could tell my doctor what to make them look like when I’m done having babies and get them put back to wear they belong). Now, if you don’t breastfeed your boobs might go back. I don’t know. I did breastfeed and I would again 100 times, but mine went from a 34 C to a 34 DD, and it isn’t because my boobs are bigger. Boy do I miss the old ones!10 things no one tells you before you have a baby | charlie by Jennifer Roper Photography
  6. You may not feel like yourself for a while.  And by yourself I mean, physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally, sexually, and pretty much every other way. If you feel like you’ve lost your old self, you are not alone. You are a mom now – biology makes your brain go into momma bear mode and prioritize your baby over everything else. You have a hard time doing things for yourself, things you used to enjoy, going back to work, resuming a sex life, getting out to have fun or to exercise. It may take a while, but you will find yourself again. I think my son was 18 months old before things clicked back into place and I was like “oh, there you are!” And I think my progress was delayed by my bout of postpartum depression, so it may not take as long for you.
  7. Sex ok after 6 weeks? More like 6 months!  I thought I was doing pretty good when, after 8 weeks, I told my husband I was ready for sex. Mostly because he had been so patient and I wanted to for him. But it was so painful I think doing it before I was really ready set me back a couple of months after that. So here is what I didn’t know then:  As long as you’re breastfeeding you will need some help in the lubrication department. If you had internal stitches, you could have a little scar tissue that makes sex very painful for a while. If you want to get back in the game, and enjoy it, invest in a good lubricant (not a drugstore kind, a sex shop kind!) and a good wine. Good luck to you.
  8. Some things DO return to normal.  And by things, I mean your vagina. So that’s good news! Want to help it along? Do your kegels before, during, and after pregnancy. But I know a lot of women worry about this (and a lot of their partners do too) and in my experience, it’s all good…eventually.10 things no one tells you before you have a baby | charlie by Jennifer Roper Photography
  9. Breastfeeding is really hard.  This one was a shock for me. My OB told me not to bother taking a breastfeeding class because the hospital would send a lactation consultant to my room (bad advice!) Well, I delivered at a very busy and big hospital (the same one that Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, a couple of Kardashians, and countless other celebs delivered their babies) and I don’t know if I had a bad experience or if I got less attention because I was regular folk, but I got a lactation consultation the morning I was checking out, for about 5 minutes, and after I had already been in the hospital for two days, where I should have been breastfeeding and getting acquainted with my pump. Because that didn’t happen (and also probably because I developed an auto-immune disease after delivery that I wasn’t aware of, more on that here) I had a very low supply. It wasn’t one of those “throw a blanket over a boob and feed your baby anytime, anywhere” type of experiences.  I needed a special pillow, a pump, a bottle with formula, and lots of other supplies to breastfeed. If I was going to be somewhere, I had to take all of the things with me.  It made me never want to go anywhere.  I visited a lactation consultant in LA many times, took a non-FDA approved drug that they recommended (that had some very negative side-effects), and put myself through the wringer to try to breastfeed my baby. It was really really hard. Which brings me to number 10…
  10. It is ok if you can’t breastfeed.  While yes, breast is best (especially in the early days) some women just can’t breastfeed or have an extremely hard time breastfeeding. Don’t drive yourself crazy and beat yourself up. It is ok to make the decision that breastfeeding isn’t for you. I did breastfeed my baby until he was 5 months old, but he was supplemented with formula (and got most of his meals and nutrition from formula because I didn’t produce much milk at all) almost the entire time. And you know what?  I had one of the healthiest babies ever.  Charlie didn’t get sick once until he was almost a year old (and then he caught a cold while cutting 4 teeth at once), he has no allergies that we’re aware of, and he’s in the 96th percentile for height and the 70th percentile for weight. He’s perfectly healthy and happy.  If I get to have another baby, and my breastfeeding experience is extremely difficult or doesn’t work at all, I will have no problem forgiving myself for giving my baby a bottle of formula instead. Your baby will benefit much more with having a happy and sane momma than having breast milk.

10 things no one tells you before you have a baby | charlie by Jennifer Roper Photography

All of these things being said, being a mom is the most fun, most rewarding, most amazing experience I’ve ever had. And it just gets better.  Every day and every age has been better, a little easier (even when it gets harder), and more fun than the last. I would go through 26 hours of labor, postpartum depression, a thyroid disease, 10 stubborn pounds of baby weight, and everything else I have been through to do it again, and I hope to get to do it again for another baby. I can’t even express how full my heart is and how happy I am everyday. I’m welling up with tears as I try to describe it. So I hope I didn’t scare you or make you dread having kids – it is wonderful and worth it. And I know there are so many women out there who so badly want to get pregnant and have a baby, and struggle with that. I don’t want to sound ungrateful or unappreciative of my getting to do that, because I am SO not. But if I helped one other momma out there see that they aren’t alone and what they are going through is normal and temporary, then I accomplished my goal.

Did you have a similar experience?  Do you have any other things to add to the list?  Please share!

{credits} all photos above are of my Charlie and my family by Jennifer Roper.  Jennifer Roper is a member of our Lovely Vendor Guide. If you would like to be considered for our handpicked guide, apply here.