1. You’ll end up getting an epidural/there are no trophies for not using pain meds
I combined this into one, because people will either insist that you CAN’T do it, or that if you do, you’re not so great anyway. Labor hurt. It hurt more than I could have imagined it hurting. And part of it was that it seemed ENDLESS– 40 hours of active labor with no sleep. Contractions are really, really hard. Words don’t really do justice to how emotionally and physically challenging the whole experience was. And I still didn’t let myself get an epidural. My thoughts are that if you tell yourself it is an option, you’ll end up getting one. If you are stubborn, you can do it. It’s not really about your pain tolerance– it is way more about how stubborn you are. To be fair, I did not experience back labor much, which I know can be even more painful, but I still think it is more about your mindset than the pain.
And for the second part, I guess people are right. I don’t have a natural birth trophy to put on my mantle. My baby is my trophy, just like for anyone, regardless of how they birth. However, I do know that I did what I felt was best for me and my baby, even when there seemed to be easier ways in the moment. I put my mind to something and I did it, even when it was much harder than I ever imagined it could be. I found my physical and emotional limits and walked right up to them. I didn’t give up. When I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, I just did it. And that feels pretty awesome.
2. Once you have a baby, your social life is over
My social life is better than it has been since college. We live in the suburbs and most of our local friends live in the city, an hour or more away. We used to either trek out to see them to hang out, or in some cases, we’d alternate who visited who. Now, people come to us. It’s awesome. I know people will probably get sick of this and we’ll have less of an excuse once the baby is a little older, but for now, we are getting lots of house guests.
I’ve also made a lot of friends who live closer! I’ve met other moms through my birth class and moms’ group, and at least once a week, I have an opportunity to hang out with people. It can be so hard to make friends as an adult but babies give you something to talk about to break the ice. And, unlike with non-babied friends, I don’t feel like the only option for hanging out is going to a bar– I can sit with my mom friends and talk for hours, try new restaurants, or hang out at a park. They’ve gotten me out of my friend rut.
This might not be true for people whose social lives revolve around clubbing or partying, but I feel more socially connected than I have in a long time.
3. Babies are expensive
At least, they don’t have to be. I know he will get expensive, but right now he just isn’t. I bought a bunch of clothes at yard sales last summer for under $25 and most of his other clothes are gifts. We got a lot of our baby gear from Craigslist. I breastfeed (I know formula feeding babies are a different story. I could rant about formula companies, but I won’t right now). I cloth diaper. People say startup costs for cloth diapering are too high, but they really don’t have to be. I got $100 of used diapers from Craiglist, my mom bought us $100 of good prefolds and covers, and I ordered $100 of factory direct diapers. If you don’t get into buying all the fancy print, even startup is affordable.Which brings me to my next point.
4. Cloth diapering is too much work
I’ve heard people who planned to cloth diaper complain that it was just too much laundry and they didn’t have time for it. I do my cloth diaper laundry every other day, which sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. I bring the diapers downstairs, do a cold rinse, then a normal wash, and then dry them. That’s it. No sorting, no folding. It will have another step once he’s eating solid foods and I have to dump solids in the toilet first, but it is still way less time every week than loading him into the car seat and going to the store to buy diapers would be.
5. Baby wearing is for hippies
My friends do make fun of me for being a hippie, but this shouldn’t be one of the reasons. Really, it’s just more convenient. Going to the store alone with a baby is overwhelming enough at first. I can’t imagine trying to push a cart and a stroller. And then when the baby starts crying, pushing a cart, a stroller, and holding a baby. How do people even do that?
6. You’ll never sleep the same way again
This is my mom’s favorite warning, even though she isn’t usually one to say “you’ll see” about things. And fair enough, she’s kind of right. Even when the baby is having a good sleeping night, my body will decide that 3 hours of sleep in a row is plenty to feel rested for now, leaving me unable to sleep for the next 3 hours. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t feel like you think it will. It feels really really awful for the first month or so– before you’re used to it, when your hormones are still all over the place, and when the baby is hardly sleeping at all. But then it gets better. Your hormones calm down. The baby starts sleeping a litttttle better, and your body just adjusts. I don’t know why, but getting 4 hours of sleep a night for 5 nights in a row is still tiring, but it doesn’t feel nearly as bad as it would have pre-baby.
I know that people’s experiences will vary. These are just a few of the scary things people told me before having a baby that ended up not being true for our family. Even if you find some of them to be true, the point is that no one’s experience is the same, and it often is so much easier than you imagine. But even if all of these were true, and ten times worse than people say, it would all be ok, because of the one thing people told me that is definitely true– that having a baby will show you how to love like you never imagined you could love.