Gather round kittens. Today, I am going to be like Dorothy and pull back the curtain to reveal the Wizard of Oz.
See, what I am going to write about is old news for those of you with kids. So you can just read along and shout out a “Hell yeah” or “Oh, no, you didn’t!” – if you want too. But for those of you without children, particularly those of you who are pregnant, what I am about to reveal to you is the God’s honest truth.
First – you will read it and think I am being dramatic.
Second – you will think “oh, that won’t happen to me.”
But what’s the first rule with fight club? Whenever you think “oh, that won’t happen to me” – it will. And soon. And probably worse than I’ve just described. And for the purposes of full disclosure, even though my child is 19 months, I continue to fall victim to the “Oh, that won’t happen to me.”
Apparently I forget my own advice. And about life with a new baby, I never dramatize for affect. Trust me. I wouldn’t dare because it is a difficult time.
So what we are going to talk about today is what I will not-so-fondly refer to as BOOT CAMP.
Baby Boot Camp. In fact, the very reason yours truly is not yet pregnant again is because well, it’s hard to forget baby boot camp.
First – Baby Boot Camp begins the first day you arrive home from the hospital and continues until around 12 weeks of age.
See, the first mistake is this. The first mistake is that each one of us has gone through our very own first pregnancy – and during that 9-10 months, all anyone cares about is YOU. And frankly, all you care about is you. Sure, you walk around thinking about baby and imagining baby – but see, you don’t have to DO anything FOR baby yet. So it’s still really about you.
And so, as a preggo, you think being pregnant is hard. And sure, it’s hard, don’t get me wrong. It’s no walk in the park, particularly once you round the corner of 34 weeks. And getting up to pee every 1 hour or 2 hours is hideous. And your back hurts. And you are cranky. And you haven’t seen your feet in a while. Etc. etc.
But see. Kittens.
The truth is, that ain’t hard. It’s merely the warm-up.
I say this to you – BE PREGNANT and stay that way AS LONG AS YOU CAN. Everyone loves a good, long warm-up. Even if they can’t get on the floor and do a downward facing dog.
Because what you forget in that period of time is this – your baby is IN you – therefore you don’t have to BE a mom. You don’t have to set aside your deep need for sleep or a shower or some peace and quiet – because your baby can’t bother you beyond some kicks. So trust me. Pregnancy ain’t nothing on new mommyhood.
Sadly, the hard part ain’t over once you are done with delivery. Friends, the hard part, has just begun (well, not in the hospital. take full advantage of the team of nurses around you that answer to your and baby’s beckon call).
Because once you leave, that is what baby boot camp is all about. It’s about never knowing the misery of ongoing perpetual sleep deprivation until you have a baby. You think you know before you have the baby. But you don’t. You actually have absolutely no idea and frankly, be glad for it.
It is truly a form of torture because it doesn’t ease up until somewhere between 12-16 weeks. The problem is you don’t know WHEN it is going to ease up.
That is the problem.
When you are exercising, you know WHEN you will stop exercising (for me, as soon as I’m done reading the latest In Touch).
When you are suffering through a test, you know WHEN it will end (and that you don’t care if you fail).
When you are stuck on a long painful conference call with work, you have a pretty good idea WHEN it will end (if you’re even paying attention instead of emailing).
When you have a newborn that wakes in increments of 1-3 hours all day and all night for months on end, and it is your first child, you don’t know WHEN it will end.
But see – all is not lost. This is why we call it Boot Camp and not a LIFE SENTENCE. Though, of course, you’d look great in an all stripes outfit.
KT is here to first – remind you that if you think I am being dramatic or that it won’t happen to you, then check back with me about 6 weeks after you’ve given birth.
But again – it’s boot camp. It ENDS.
I am here to give you that glimmer of hope to hang your hat on.
Around 5-6 weeks, you will likely wake up at some bizarre and previously considered hideous time like 4-5am, sit up faster than you knew possible, look down and see that your boobies have leaked all over the place and what? What does the clock say? It says 5am?
But you haven’t fed junior since close to midnight.
So then you will nudge your husband and wonder if it’s some Christmas Miracle.
Could you have possibly slept through Junior’s cries? And your husband just quietly got up, fed and burped and changed baby and got him back to sleep while you slept through it all?
So you ask. Because you are a new mom and you don’t have much brain power.
And your husband, confused and more of a blithering idiot than you, of course, did not perform said miracle.
Instead. Your baby did it.
Your sweet beautiful perfect baby just slept that long and gave you almost 6 hours of beautiful sleep. And you, my dear, are a new person.
Then your baby will revert back to his old ways. But then you have the 2 month shots and you learn the beauty of shots and baby Tylenol. It’s almost better than mixing a stiff drink with a valium.
And your baby sleeps – possibly all night.
By now, you are 8 weeks into it and you are starting to really build up stamina. You function beautifully on 4 hours sleep, you think of that as an entire night. You have figured out a good schedule and you feel like more than just a milking cow. You know when you have windows of time to run some errands with baby to avoid screaming fits. You have talked, thought and stressed about poop more than your previous non-parental self would care to believe.
Life is slowly starting to look up.
So what is my point here?
My point is this – the first 12 weeks of your new life as a parent are like boot camp. You have essentially started a new job, you have no idea what you are doing and you are meant to learn it more hormonally charged and sleep deprived than you knew possible.
I ain’t gonna lie to you. It isn’t all fun. But you have a baby. Along the way, you have a beautiful baby that you love and you are getting to know – and you are starting to discover a new part of you that has been lying dormant all these years – Mom you.
You don’t know Mom you until you have a kid.
And I don’t actually believe you know true and selfless love until you have a baby.
These are the things that make boot camp bearable and why people lose their minds and sign up to do it all over again. The next time with a toddler added to the mix.
And so, I will say this to you – new mommy’s and preggos out there. KT is here for you. KT advises you to refer back to my older posting and “Adopt-A-Mom” – you need lots of help. KT advises you to STOP with the obsessing over everything that “needs to get done” when baby is napping.
Guess what. It doesn’t.
Your husband can help you with the laundry.
No one expects a new mom to write a Thank You note when she should be napping.
And there’s always take-out for dinner. The baby weight will come off you when it’s good and ready – so don’t sweat it in the first 12 weeks (or 12 months, we don’t judge here on KT, we even cut left-leaning Republican progressive mom’s some slack).
IF you are pregnant – be VERY nice to your Mom. (Or possibly, in some alternate universe, your Mother-in-law.) Because your mother is the one that is going to be your saving grace, when all is said and done, at the end of the day. So – bite your tongue if your mom is annoying you as a preggo. You’ll regret it later.
And finally – don’t call new mom’s. Whoever you are out there. Just retreat if you are moving to a phone. Leave new mom’s the hell alone. They have families and sisters and sisters-in-law and mom’s of their own that are calling them plenty. Trust me. They do. If they want to hear your melodious voice, they will call you. Otherwise, just leave the new mommy alone.
She’s in boot camp training and needs all the quiet time she can find. And just remember, it gets better, the baby sleeps more, and then starts to smile, and laugh, and coo, and sleep more.
And you just might find yourself thinking you actually could do it all over again.