There are a number of lies floating around about mothering a newborn that have to be addressed. It's amazing how many women claim to "forget" what life with a newborn was like. You just plum forgot? That's amazing.
I never want to forget this time, and I want as many women as possible who have never had a child to know how unbelievably hard the first few weeks are so they don't feel as unprepared as I did. No sugar-coating it. Someone's gotta be honest!
Lie #1 : You'll love your baby immediately.
I do not love my baby. I mean, I love him because he's mine and I'm super glad he's healthy and here on Earth. But I'm not all ushy-gushy in love with him. In fact, he's really an obligation more than a son. He's a need-machine with absolutely no give back. He doesn't smile, he doesn't coo, he doesn't hug. He screams and poops and eats (all after ruining my body). And when I smile or show him a toy or make eye contact, he makes the most sour, unhappy face I've ever seen. I don't have postpartum depression. I just miss The People's Court and going out to dinner.
Lie #2 : "My babies were sleepers"
This one is just mean. Women say to me, "Is he sleeping?! My babies were sleepers." You're a liar or you have a terrible memory. Breast-fed babies don't sleep in the first 3 months. Now maybe you packed your baby so full of formula that he slept for 8 hours at 3 weeks simply because he couldn't move. But there is simply no such thing as a 1 month old "sleeper". Saying that to me simply makes me feel inadequate and more tired than I already am. Stop it.
Lie #3: You should cherish them at that age because they're never that small again.
Really? Cherish them? As I mentioned in Lie #1, they don't do anything but scream, poop, eat, and occasionally sleep in bursts just long enough for you to start a dream and finish it with a milk-drinking monster only to realize it's actually your offspring. This is not a time of my life I am cherishing, and I think it's perfectly OK to admit that. I realize there is an end to this period and eventually my child will smile at me and I will possibly melt off the planet. But in the mean time, I make no bones about not cherishing this and I'll never insist that anyone else cherish it either.
Lie #4: Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt if you're doing it right.
So you're telling me that a human being sucking as hard as he can on my NIPPLE hurts because I'm DOING IT WRONG? No, I disagree. It hurts because a human being is sucking as hard as he can on my NIPPLE. Sure, once we got our latch going it didn't hurt as much, but if I could choose between a pedicure with a glass of merlot and breastfeeding, you better believe my toes win. And P.S. on breastfeeding: yeah, you burn 500 calories a day doing it, but some women (like me) have to be so careful with what they eat that it's not even worth it. I WANT PIZZA.
Lie #5 : There is very little a father can do to help in the first few months.
No, my husband cannot feed our child right now. But you know what he can do? Laundry. And dishes. And the lawn. And he can constantly clean up behind the natural disaster that is Erin and Abe on most days. He can take our son for a walk while I sleep and he can grocery shop for things that don't contain dairy or soy. Thank God for him.
I wake up everyday remember that someday Abe will look at me and say "mommy" and hug my neck and giggle. And I think it's OK that women prepare each other and support each other for how mind-numbingly tiring these first months are. I give thanks every day for the women in my life who are giving of advice and an understanding ear when I've been pushed to my limits. I'm very lucky. And now I'm going to go clean another load of poop-stained laundry.