From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, your brain starts to paint a picture of what life will be like with your cute little baby.
You create an image in your mind based on the knowledge you have of babies, whether that be through films, friends with kids, books you’ve read or your own assumptions.
There’s a series of idyllic snapshots of life as a mama in your brain, pictures that get you excited about what’s to come.
Everything is so exciting and you dream of the adventure that’s approaching. But then your expectations and reality collide – rather messily – when your baby arrives.
Sometimes your predictions come true, but it’s safe to say that parenthood is never entirely as you imagined it would be.
Here are the expectations vs realities of becoming a parent:
1. Someone will show you what to do
With all the attention you’re given from health visitors and midwives in the run up to the birth, you think that any issues you have will be swiftly ironed out by a healthcare professional.
Sleep issues, feeding worries, weight gain concerns, and the question every mother has at some point, “what the hell is that rash?”.
They have all the answers, surely?
Your midwife is not a baby guru and they can’t teach you to parent by numbers. They know how to keep you and your newborn alive, but that’s about it. When it comes to the nitty gritty of parenting issues, you’re on your own.
Oh, and that weird rash? Get used to scrolling through endless Google Images trying to figure out what it is and whether you should be worried.
2. Breastfeeding is natural and easy
After reading all about why breastfeeding is so amazing, you wonder why anyone would choose not to do it. You expect baby to crawl straight to your boob and suckle until they’re full before passing out in a contended heap.
For something that’s so natural, it’s bloody hard to get it right! With the sore nipples, the blocked ducts and the cluster feeding, this is anything but easy.
3. There will be endless coffee dates with friends
You think of all the beautiful cafes where you can get together with your pals every day and gossip about what was on TV last night while laughing about the joy of motherhood.
The one and only time you dared to take your child to a cafe they screamed so loudly that people stared at you as if you might have kidnapped them. If you do brave it to meet a friend in future, you will be so sleep deprived that you’re more likely to nod off in your coffee cup than gossip about the TV last night, which you missed anyway because you were dealing with an epic “witching hour” fallout.
4. Books have all the answers
A quick glance at the parenting book top sellers on Amazon prove that these books must work, otherwise they wouldn’t be shifting any copies!
Buy a book, read it, follow what it says and any parenting issues will be handled swiftly and decisively, hooray for Prime!
Your attempt at implementing a Gina Ford routine went south at 7am when your baby was still sleeping and you chose not to wake them, because they had only just gone to bed at 6.30am.
Even Holly Willoughby’s smiling and serene face on the cover of her book is of little comfort at 10pm when your baby has been chomping on your nipples every 15 minutes for the last 12 hours.
You’ll take bits and pieces from several books, but ultimately make your own way, winging it at every turn.
5. You will set the routine
You’re rather attached to your current routine of when you wake up, when you go to bed and when you like to leave the house in the morning.
As the grown-up you get to choose to maintain this lifestyle.
The baby does not give a toss about when you want to leave the house and will shit through every layer of clothing just as you’ve put them in their pramsuit to go out for the morning.
6. You will want lots of help
With all of these eager relatives who are so very keen to hold the baby and take the baby for a walk, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Everyone is already lining up to take the baby off your hands, and you reckon you’ll be pleased to take time out.
You’re so exhausted you could cry, but when someone else has been holding your baby for 10 minutes, you start to glance at the clock wondering when an appropriate length of time will pass for you to ask for them back.
7. Your patience will be infinite
Because babies are so very innocent and your love will be so very pure, you will never grow tired of the crying or feel your temper starting to slip.
When you’ve slept for just about an hour, broken up into small chunks of 15 minutes or less, for the third day in a row, you will start to feel a teensy bit pissed off at the situation.
Yes the baby is innocent, cute and not at fault. But for fuck’s sake, why don’t they want to go to sleep?
8. You will definitely want to go back to work
You’re a modern woman, so you’re definitely not giving up your career after having a baby. You’ll just find convenient childcare and that will be that.
The thought of leaving your child in the care of someone else for even part of the week makes you feel like the worst mum in the world. Plus you have serious FOMO (fear of missing out). What if they walk for the first time at nursery?
When you get back to work, you realise that not only does childcare cost almost as much as your mortgage, but your kid will catch every single bug going and won’t be able to attend 90 per cent of the time in the first eight weeks.
Also, nursery closes at 6pm and your last meeting of the day is at 6pm.
9. Your friendships will stay the same
You’ll still be the same person, talking about the same stuff and will want to do the same things. Therefore those bonds and the dynamic with your closest pals will stay exactly the same.
Your once witty repartee has been replaced with the ability to just about grunt out a noise when you agree with something. Friends with kids will sympathise and send coffee. Friends without won’t get it.
10. You’ll know exactly what to do, thanks to the parenting instinct
Everyone says mother knows best, so whenever you are faced with a dilemma or issue your intuition will just know what to do.
Your gut will be telling you about 10 different potential solutions to your problem, and you’ll have no idea which is the right one.
11. Maternity leave will be a total blast
A whole year off to do nothing but chill out with your baby all day every day and do exciting things together.
It’s impossible to chill out with a baby, due to the amount of mess they produce, the noise and their high maintenance nature.
12. The love
You’re going to love this little person more than anything else in the world.
You will love this little person more than anything else in the world.
Is there anything that surprised you after having your first baby? I would love to hear from you!