I've known my whole life that I wanted to be a mother. I've always said that I'll take as many kids as God is willing to give me and I can provide for. You see, my parents are "houseparents" at a children's home called the Big Oak Ranch and we've lived there since I was 5. So my entire life I've grown up with at least 10 people in the house, but often times more. The noise and chaos can be a bit much sometimes but you're never bored.
Or, you shouldn't be.
Even with having grown up around a large family and always knowing that I wanted children, I was never around too many babies so there have been a few surprises!
OK. There have been a ton of surprises but seeing as how this post would be never ending if I listed them all (since I'm surprised on a daily basis), I'm only going to list a few.
But here you go. A few things that have surprised me about being a first time mother:
1. How interested I would become in *cringe* bowel movements - It's inevitable. You're 100% responsible for this tiny, living, human and so therefore you'll be in charge of it's poop. I knew I'd have to change diapers, that's a given, but I didn't realize just how interested I would become in it. I've Googled pictures of it, smelled it, observed the color of it, saved it to show the doctor. Yes, I've walked around with a cloth diaper full of poop in my purse. For someone that used to like to pretend that poop didn't exist, I've become somewhat of an expert.
2. That I would actually enjoy breastfeeding - Look, I know the research, I know what's best for my child, I know it's natural. But never did I ever (HA!) think I would breastfeed. Much less enjoy it. I said up until the day I gave birth that I couldn't imagine doing it. I knew she'd need my milk so I thought I'd just pump it and bottle feed her (which is a totally hard and amazing thing to do for you moms that choose to!) but when the nurses laid her on my chest for the first time, there was an instant change in thinking. She latched on, and we never looked back. We were extremely blessed not to experience any problems so this probably has something to do with why I like it.
3. The fact that I could love my husband more than I already did - T and I have been best friends from the start. We enjoy hanging out and spending our days together and I loved the life we had built with just the two of us. I thought I loved him to my fullest capabilities but, obviously, I was wrong. Watching him and Cali together has expanded my capacity to love more than I ever thought possible. Loving him as a husband and loving him as a dad are two completely different feelings.
4. How much I would miss sleep - This is another one that you think you're prepared for, but you're not really. At least I wasn't. They say you'll be tired, yada, yada, yada. I had no idea. There was a while there that I started seeing things that weren't there I was so tired. I felt like the walking dead... literally. Like a haze over my eyes where I was living in the world but not completely computing everything that was going on around me. It's brutal. And a form of torture in war. I get it now. But at least I get to stare at her adorable face while I'm sleep deprived. Totally worth it.
5. The fact that I could think fat rolls are so friggin cute - Seriously. Have you ever seen chunky, baby thighs? Cutest. Thing. Ever.
6. How much I would get peed/pooped on - And not think anything of it. Really. It's like she waits to urinate and blow that nasty crap (literally) until her diaper is off and I'm leaning in. And how do I react? I just wipe it off and keep on keepin' on. Just another day in the life of...
7. How hard it would be to leave her - This one was a doozy for me. I'm not positive if it's because we spend so much time just the two of us during baseball season or if it's something that all moms go through but leaving her in nursery for the first time was BRUTAL. And it wasn't even real nursery. We were at the gym and it was 30 minutes and I was less than 50 yards away. By the time I went to get her I was convinced she liked the nursery worker better than me and that she was mad that I had left her. Obviously I'm crazy but the feelings were there no matter how many times I told myself they were irrational. I can only pray I don't scar her for life with my insanity.
8. How absolutely terrifying it is - From the moment I found out that I was pregnant (and convinced I had a brain tumor), to this very minute I have been terrified. I worry about how she sleeps, how much she sleeps, how she poops, how her hand moves, whether she's laughing enough, whether she's socializing enough, will she like me?, does she know me?, am I going to teach her right from wrong, etc. Again, this probably isn't normal (and definitely not healthy... I know that) but the fact of the matter is that it's a constant struggle for me. I have always leaned towards expecting the worst (which is also something I need to work on) and that didn't change with having Cali. It only intensified. All I can do is hide my fears from her and - once again - pray that she's not as crazy as I am.
9. How hard it is - I'll admit something to you: I probably judged you before I had a kid. I probably criticized the way your kid slept, was dressed, how they behaved, how clean/messy your house was, your relationship with your husband, etc. I read a few books and thought I knew it all. BOY, WAS I WRONG. So here I am... Apologizing to all of you. I'm an idiot and a reformed know-it-all. It's freaking HARD. I'm lucky to make it out of every day with both Cali and I in tact.
10. How little time I would actually have to myself and not mind - Because even when you're physically by yourself, you're not. You're listening for them to wake up, you're cleaning up after them, you're thinking about their well-being, you're wondering how you'll ever get all of the spit up stains off of your best shirts. It's never ending and I can only imagine it only gets to be more as they get older and mobile. Crap. I'm not even close to being prepared for that. I need to child proof everything now. But you know what? I love her so much that I don't miss the alone time. I didn't see that one coming at all.
Anyways, as tough and hard and exhausting as it all is... I love her to my very core.
I'm going to go give up some very precious alone time to stare at her while she sleeps.
Until next time.