The Truth About Motherhood
by Carmie Sanchez
Before I had my oldest son, I often heard people make statements about motherhood and about life after bringing a little human into the world. Many times these things that people said came across in a rather negative way and sometimes they made it sound like life after pregnancy is pretty much a lonely, dismal one. I remember asking my mom if it’s really that bad, is that really all there is to motherhood. I don’t remember her response, but I’m here to tell you - it’s not that bad. It’s not all there is to motherhood. So here are a few things that people commonly say about/during motherhood and what I have found to be true in my motherhood journey.
“Be prepared to lose sleep.” Yes and no. The way some people talk they act like you won’t get a full night of sleep for the rest of your child bearing years. “Sleep as much as you can before you have the baby, you’ll be glad you did—blah, blah, blah. The truth? Yes, you will lose sleep. Yes, you will wake up to nurse your baby in the middle of the night and suddenly jerk awake to find your baby long finished with nursing, sound asleep and you will decide to just haul yourself off to bed (true story). But. YOU WILL SLEEP AGAIN. Yes. Yes you will. It may be awhile, but you will sleep and you will sleep good. In the spirit of complete honesty, I have so far been a little spoiled when it comes to my children sleeping all night. Jaxon began sleeping all night at two months, Taylor at one month and to this day they consistently sleep all night, every night, come teething or what have you (with some minor exceptions). I know that this is not the case for all mothers and there are equally numerous reasons for your child to wake in the middle of the night whether it’s for a feeding, or an upset tummy, or a bad teething session. But I think in spite of these things, you can still get the sleep you need at least to carry you through until (victory!) your baby is sleeping all night. Here are some ways to achieve that:
1. Sleep when they sleep. Most newborns take at least 2-3 naps a day. Take advantage of this and nap at the same time. Even if you close your eyes for only 10-20 minutes, it will help so much and it will give you that extra boost that you need. This is a lot easier to do with your first baby, because by the time your second comes, they will probably be on different sleep schedules.
2. Don’t jump at every whimper. I learned this early on with Jaxon. If he began whimpering and grexing in the middle of the night, I would immediately jump out of bed and begin nursing him only to have him fall back asleep within seconds of latching on with no hope of waking him again. I revised this by waiting a minute or two before getting up and going to him. Once I knew that he was fully awake and ready to eat, then I nursed him. Occasionally, he would actually settle himself back to sleep for at least a few more minutes before letting me know that he was wide awake (with loud, lusty crying).
3. Try letting them sleep on their tummy. I know, this is not a popular opinion amongst doctors, but I did this with Taylor because he slept so much better this way. If it makes you nervous to try it at night, start by putting your baby on his tummy during naps that way you can check in on him periodically.
4. Sleep train your baby. I had every intention of doing this with Jaxon once he reached 3 months after hearing that a friend of mine did it with one of her babies. Lucky for Jaxon, he beat me to it. There are so many reasons why sleep training may not be the best option for your baby, but if they are growing well and are generally plump and happy babies, I don't see any reason not to sleep train. For some great ideas about establishing a bedtime routine, read this post. After reading it, I realized that I actually did the exact same thing with Jaxon and at least some of the time with Taylor.
“I haven’t showered in four days” No. Just, no. I hear this all the time from other mothers on social media and blogs. And I can absolutely not relate in anyway. I shower every. single. day. And I take my time with it too, never feeling one bit rushed. Maybe those mothers are in the “morning shower” category, but I prefer evening showers and as soon as I get my boys in bed for the night and close their bedroom door, I make a beeline for the bathroom. On some occasions when we have something going in the evening and I want to shower beforehand, I unashamedly let Curious George or Baby Einstein, in the form of a DVD, babysit the boys.
“You won’t have time for the things you enjoy.” Nope. While it is true that the time you have to dedicate to your hobbies will be severely diminished, it will not be totally lost. I used to read while nursing Jaxon and I went through so many books that my mom told me I needed something to do. I still read every single day even if it’s only a page or two. I enjoy knitting/crocheting and sewing and I do those things regularly too, mostly when the boys are either napping or down for the night. I actually highly encourage mothers to continue to pursue their hobbies, because I think we all need that outlet. Depending on what you enjoy doing, you can even involve your child no matter how young. If you enjoy gardening, let them play on a blanket next to you while you weed your flower beds. Or put them in a Bambo seat while you bake in the kitchen.
“It’s harder to go places with children” Yes and no. One of the young mothers that I follow on Instagram quoted her mother on this as saying something to this effect, “Getting out of the house with children is a muscle. The more you work it, the easier it gets.” While there are definitely moments that get a little hairy, it is not entirely impossible. There are many days where I feel like giving up before we’ve even reached the front door, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Our children have been on shopping trips an hour away multiple times. They have been to the mall numerous times. We have flown with them as well as gone on road trips several times. They go out to eat with us to sit down restaurants. Thanks to wonderful modern inventions such as baby wraps and strollers it is possible to go virtually anywhere with your baby in tow. You don’t have to become arecluses just because you have a newborn.
No matter how tough your day was, you will hold them on your lap and relish the feel of their little body in your arms, tucked close to your heart. No matter how loud and chaotic your day was, when Papa comes home and chases his little boys around the house to the tune of loud shrieks and endless giggles, it will be music to your ears.
“When your toddler is really quiet that means trouble”. Not always. Yes, sometimes it means your child is sitting in a corner with his younger brother each eating another brownie after they’ve already had too many, or it means your child is dumping out all of your plants and making a huge mess. But sometimes that silence means your child is quietly sitting on the couch looking at a favorite book, or playing with toys. Sometimes it’s a moment so laden with sweetness that you quietly back away so as not to ruin the moment.
The truth is, motherhood may be a lot of hard work, but it is also fun. Our days may be filled with crying babies, but trust me, every single day I look at each of my children unable to believe that they are mine. When your baby flashes you a cheeky grin your heart will reach an almost bursting point and you will not be able to hold in all of the love that you have for your child. As your baby learns and accomplishes new things you will beam with mama-pride. The first time your baby says “I luh you” or “hug, hug” you will not be able to resist. Sometimes, even when it’s way past their bedtime, you will sit on the floor in their room and stack blocks with them until it’s time for them to go to bed and then you will share their disappointment that it has to end. No matter how tough your day was, you will hold them on your lap and relish the feel of their little body in your arms, tucked close to your heart. No matter how loud and chaotic your day was, when Papa comes home and chases his little boys around the house to the tune of loud shrieks and endless giggles, it will be music to your ears. When your baby comes up to you and says “hi, hi, hi” in his shrill little voice, no matter how bad your day has been you will bend down, smile, fold him into your arms and say “hi, sweety!”