Things I Want To Tell My Pregnant Friends

A few of my mom friends were chatting about pregnant women the other day (everyone I know is pregnant. Everyone.) and we were talking about how when we see first-time pregnant women we all kind of smile and nod and say ‘congrats!’ but we can’t (or just don’t) say everything we’re really thinking.

I’ve already written a post on how nothing anyone says can prepare someone for motherhood, but I also think women unintentionally do a disservice to other women who are preparing to become moms by sheltering them from some of the ‘truths’.

I think it’s because moms tend to get a little extreme about things. (Or perhaps moms-to-be only hear what they want to hear.)

Either moms say they love everything about motherhood and it’s hard but so, so, so worth it all of the time and they feel blessed every second. Or moms say that motherhood is hard and then burst into tears because their hormones are still all wacky or they’re suffering from PPD or are really, really sleep deprived.

Things I Want To Tell My Pregnant Friends

To be honest, I’m not sure moms-to-be actually want to hear about what the transition to motherhood is really like. I think moms would rather spend time planning out every detail in the nursery than listening to stories about the difficulty of the transition to motherhood. I think pregnant women would rather talk about their registries (oh, the stress!) than listen to other moms talk about their newborn experiences. Maybe moms-to-be think that they’ll handle motherhood better than their friends, or maybe they think they have some sort of secret up their sleeves, or maybe they just don’t want to think about it because they don’t know what to expect and every baby is different, anyway. Or, most plausibly, maybe they just don’t know what to ask or what they should be thinking about.

Does a pregnant woman want to hear how hard it can be to recover from childbirth?
How traumatizing some birth stories are?
The pain of sleep deprivation?
The problems babies and kids can bring into a marriage?
That no amount of reading will prepare them for parenthood?
How difficult it is to do every little thing while recovering from childbirth or while hauling around a baby or while chasing after a toddler, etc?
About the challenges of cabin-fever if she chooses to stay at home?
How boring it can be?
And how tiring?

I don’t mean to make it sound like it’s all bad, because clearly I love being a mom. I love it (almost) every day. But (and maybe this is because I didn’t know many moms before I became one myself), I don’t remember hearing much about motherhood until after I delivered Clara. And I still think a lot of my mom friends shy away from complaining or voicing their honest thoughts about motherhood because they don’t want to seem ungrateful or be labeled a complainer, and they certainly do not want to upset a pregnant lady!

Whatever the reason, I worry that I’m not sharing the absolute truth with my (pregnant or maybe-going-to-be-pregnant-one-day) friends, either. Some of my girlfriends have come over while Clara is being especially clingy or they’ve talked to me on the phone as she’s screaming in the background, so they’ve heard my frustration and impatience in taking care of a fussy baby/toddler. It’s tiring. So tiring.

Things I Want To Tell My Pregnant Friends

But a lot of my (long distance) friends only see us for brief periods of time, a few times a year, and may have seen a happy couple with a happy (albeit restless) baby and probably made a quick judgement that babies can be easy. They may have seen us at a restaurant with Clara when she was tiny and concluded that their social lives wouldn’t need to end with the birth of a little one (even though we now barely take her to restaurants with us because it’s just not worth it). They see the joy in our faces and think of how fun being a parent would be. They see pictures of us traveling and might remind themselves that they will still be able to go places with a baby! But all of these things are hard.

*Friends who have seen us more recently do not have these types of illusions, which I know because we’ve been asked things like “Does she always move this much?!” and “Doesn’t she ever sit down?” and “How do you keep up with her all day?” (Questions only asked by non-parents, obviously.)

I guess my caveat to soon-to-be-first-time-moms is this:

Babies do not and will not fit into your old life easily. Yes you can still do things with a baby, especially a newborn. You can travel and go out to eat and see friends and live a relatively ‘normal’ life, but it will not be the same. Eventually your world will revolve around nap schedules and sleep schedules. Even if you’re one of those parents who doesn’t adhere to a strict schedule or you’re one of the lucky ones whose baby will fall asleep anywhere, you will want to get your sleepy child home before a meltdown if at all possible. You will stop taking your child out to eat (eventually) because dinnertime will be too late and they’ll throw all of their food on the floor and only sit in the highchair for 0.2 seconds before needing to be entertained. Sometimes you’ll long for the days when you could watch hours of TV or read books without interruption or even leave the house by yourself. You’ll miss these days even if your spouse is super-supportive, and even if you are able to do these things sometimes – you’ll still miss being able to do them whenever you wanted. Your body may look amazing (eventually) after you deliver your baby, but it will never be the exact same as it was before. You will lose your patience. You may even yell. You will have days when you will cry in frustration because your baby is crying and it seems like no one ‘gets it’. You will wonder if you’re capable of handling the awesome responsibility of parenthood. You will get mad at your spouse. You will feel isolated, even if you have a great support system. Whatever type of parent you think you might be, well, you may change your mind as you get to know your child and this different side of yourself. Your baby will absolutely not fit perfectly into your old life. You aren’t just adding a family member, you’re changing your entire world.

Of course I’m only listing the ‘negatives’ because the positives are well-documented on Instagram/social media: Babies are cute & cuddly, toddlers are hilarious, and there is nothing better or more magical than watching a baby grow into a little person (in my opinion).

I guess I wish that the articles about what being a new-parent is really like weren’t all so ‘oh it’s not really that bad’ or even with a lighthearted twist. Sometimes I just want to tell pregnant ladies, “What you’re about to go through is hard. It’s actually really, really difficult. And I am here if you want to talk about it because you’re going to need someone to talk to. But you can do this! You can adjust and you will learn so much about yourself and this may be the most important role you’ll ever have, so I hope you’re ready!”

(I would also tell them to have a date night every week and to hire a cleaning service – but I’d probably tell couples without kids that same advice.)

What about motherhood did you find to be most surprising? Do you have any advice for soon-to-be-moms?

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20 Responses to Things I Want To Tell My Pregnant Friends

  1. I love reading your “mommy” posts. I don’t know why, I’m not a mom, have no intentions of having children, but I just find your posts so honest and refreshing. I nannied through college and it is HARD. Raising children is hard and tiring and so so draining. I love reading your stories 🙂

  2. Kate Unger says:

    Most surprising was how much I love my son. I didn’t think it was possible to love someone that much. My advice – find some mommy friends and just be honest with them about your struggles and your joys. Lean on others for support, be real, and don’t judge. All babies are different. You may get an easy one, but someone else may be struggling with their challenging child. Or vice versa. Love your fellow moms. 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      Gosh, the love of a mom is just indescribable, isn’t it?! And I totally agree, I tell all of my pregnant friends that finding a mom group (IMO) is a MUST because everyone needs women in the same stage of life to be able to ask questions to! Great advice 🙂

  3. Yes!!! I really want to hire a cleaning service…. I think I’m going to have them come in and do the deep cleaning every couple of months. The baseboards, all of the dusting (because I forget some areas), deep clean the bathrooms, the windows… etc. 🙂

  4. Kalyn P says:

    I just read an article last week about how (in the author’s opinion) women don’t share enough positives about motherhood. Her point was that many mothers are sure to point out the negatives that come with motherhood (sleep deprivation, decreased social life, no vacations, etc) but are hesitant to talk about babies being easy or not totally life altering. That yes, your life will change but life isn’t over just because you have a child.

    It’s interesting to read both perspectives. Obviously I’m not a mother, so all of my “experience” is secondhand from the mothers I know personally. In my opinion, I think that women should be honest about all of their motherhood experiences – the negatives and the positives – and offer support and advice when needed or praise and love when needed.

    Kalyn | Geez Louise Blog

    • Lisa says:

      Good article – thanks for pointing me towards it! I totally agree with what Bonnie says and life does go on (and is even really fun!) with a baby. I think she’s talking to a different kind of audience though – she’s writing to people who are hesitant to have kids because they think that their whole life will be OVER whereas I have more friends who seem to think their worlds won’t alter at all. Two extremes for sure and I love both perspectives because my life is DEFINITELY not how it used to be (Tim & I used to go out three times a week – we can go out to eat now, but we won’t ever be able to socialize like we used to without paying a babysitter a bijillion dollars). So yes, I agree with her that it’s extreme to think you’ll NEVER (for example) be able to eat at a restaurant again, but I’ll add in the caveat that it’s still life-altering with a kid because now you need to hire a babysitter OR you’re going to be dealing with a restless baby/toddler at a restaurant which sometimes isn’t worth the hassle.

      Clara was an easy newborn and I was hesitant to discuss it with other moms who were in the trenches of sleep deprivation, but I also didn’t need to talk about it because moms who have babies that sleep well just don’t need the support that moms who have babies who won’t sleep do! So I agree, I don’t read many articles saying ‘hey, my newborn isn’t so bad!’ just because there isn’t too much to say about a newborn who sleeps and eats and is pretty boring!

      All that to say, I love that every motherhood has a unique perspective and I completely agree that we should all share our own experiences because one isn’t more valid than the other! We, as women, should be honest about things that MIGHT be hard or MIGHT be easy and feel like we’re equipping other women with all of the info so that they can make the best choices for themselves and not feel like they’re doing something ‘wrong’ if they find that motherhood is way harder than they were told or way easier than they were led to believe.

      OK, longest response ever. But seriously, thanks for the thought provoking comment! This is why I love blogging, it really makes me think!

  5. I think this was a very honest approach to the conversation. I wish I would have known exactly how much life was about to change… but really, I don’t think I could have understood. Everything revolves around Holland now and sometimes, I slightly resent that. But then, she laughs or learns something new and all of that resentment fades away immediately and I remember that she is the most precious thing in my universe!

    Parenthood is weird. So weird. But I’m thrilled that I get to be apart of the freak show.

    -Kate
    http://www.theflorkens.com

    • Lisa says:

      I totally agree with you Kate, I’m not sure I would have understood either, even if someone told me! Maybe people did tell me and my then-pregnant self just didn’t listen. It’s a totally different ballgame once you’re in the ‘mom club’ and have other moms to share experiences with, because then everyone kind of ‘gets it’. Yep, parenthood is awesome and weird and I feel really, really blessed to be Clara’s mom, even if my life has completely changed!

  6. This was a great read! I agree it is HARD. So, so hard. I can’t speak a ton since I’m in the “brand spankin’ new” moms club, but I felt prepared for labor, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding trials, and screaming babies, but I was NOT prepared for postpartum recovery. Maybe it was my quick labor, or maybe I’m just a huge wimp, but HOLY cow. Nobody EVER talks about it! For me, recovery was 10x harder than labor, and the emotional rollercoaster of the first 2 weeks was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced.

    Now that she’s a month old, I do feel like I’m coming out of a pretty tough fog (physically and mentally) and really enjoying myself. 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      You’re in the thick of it, for sure! It’s awesome that you felt so prepared, but I agree, recovery is HARD. At least for me, the recovery from a c-section was the WORST and I was totally unprepared for bathroom experiences after that. I figured since I didn’t have a vaginal delivery that everything would be the same ‘down there’. NOPE. That’s what I’m most afraid of for having a toddler and a newborn… how will I function during recovery?!

  7. Oh my gosh, I almost feel the opposite – I swear everything anyone has ever said to me about having kids has been more negative than good! If this baby hadn’t been a nice little surprise ;), I really don’t know how long it would have taken us to have kids for this exact reason. All I hear are horror stories about never sleeping again, no social life, terrifying birth stories haha. I know it will be okay though and we’ll get through it because everyone does and then we’ll say it was totally worth it 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      Both of my babies were surprises too, and I always say I’m so thankful because if I had waited until I was ‘ready’, I probably would have never had Clara! God knows what I need more than I do! Trust me, you will sleep, you will go out, your birth story will eventually be ancient history that you will share with other people… and without a DOUBT your heart will be bigger than you ever thought it could be! I mean ‘worth it’ doesn’t even begin to describe my experience with motherhood. It has been completely hard and transformative but also the BIGGEST blessing I could have ever imagined. I think the hard parts of motherhood are worth mentally preparing yourself for, only because the positives you will simply experience and be overwhelmed by in the best of ways.

  8. Thank you for this post! I’m due in 2 weeks with my first, and while people have given me plenty of “advice” during my pregnancy, I haven’t heard anything as honest and real as this. I know it will be worth it no matter what though!

    • Lisa says:

      Oh, motherhood will be BEYOND worth it. I feel like ‘worth it’ means that the positives will kind of outweigh the negatives, but in my experience, while it’s important to be prepared for the exhaustion and mental fatigue and the unglamorous and freakin’ HARD parts of motherhood, the wonderful moments you are about to experience will surpass anything you could ever imagine and will quite simply blow your mind. I’m so excited for you!

  9. Lisa C says:

    I have to say I’m glad I heard all about the gory details of the post-delivery recovery wayyyy before we had kids (which we still don’t). I would have freaked out if I had heard that while pregnant or learned about it because it was happening to me.

    • Lisa says:

      I’m definitely not looking forward to that whole ordeal again, let me tell you! It’s probably best NOT to know it before you get pregnant 😉

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