8 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Parent

The moment I saw those two red lines appear in the hCG pregnancy test kit, I knew my life would turn upside down. I sat on the bathroom floor, a hand pressed on my gaping mouth as I try to stop a sound from escaping. I had a hard time breathing; I was about to faint.

“This can’t be it,” I said as tears ran down my cheeks. That was 4 o’clock in the morning. I had to call my mom. I wept over the phone, telling her I was pregnant. I knew I could count on her. Although disappointed, I knew she’d be okay with it.

My partner, who was equally shocked, didn’t move for a while, staring at space as though his soon-to-be life was playing in front of him.

We were afraid. No, terrified! Raising a child at 24 isn’t easy. Parenthood is chock full of surprises.

As days passed by, we quickly embraced the fact that we will be having a child of our own. To our surprise, we were pretty excited about it. We both worked hard and saved up to prepare for the delivery as any responsible parent would do. We enjoyed shopping for baby clothes and gears. It was all on us: the prenatal supplements, check up, baby stuff, and the mind-numbing hospital expenses for a private hospital care.

I’ve read far too many articles about pregnancy and parenting. My doctor praised me for being such an obedient patient. No sweets: check. Limit calorie intake: check . Take prenatal supplements: check. Drink Anmum milk 2x a day: check. No soda/caffeine: check. My pregnancy weight was commendable. I had gone back to my pre-pregnancy weight just 2 weeks after giving birth. I knew I could ace it as I had aced life’s tests.

Suffice to say, I was very good at being pregnant.

Alas! Nothing could have prepared me for the experience we were about to undergo once my daughter was born. I wish I had known these things before becoming a parent.

  1. The First Few Months are Hellish

I honestly thought baby cries are annoying before. But after Prym was born, her wails in the wee hours of the night have been purely agonizing. I won’t say annoying because I love her. Nevertheless, they have tormented me, especially when she does it a couple of times in the night. To pacify her, I have to offer the breasts. But breastfeeding was another thing I struggled with in the first few weeks because, for no apparent reason, she squirmed and cried inconsolably while at the breasts. It came to a point that my husband had to get her from me because I started crying with her.

Sleep, shower, and keeping a clear head- these were the things I badly needed during those arduous few weeks. Everything I do must be done in haste. I even don’t have much time putting makeup on my face before going to work, save for my eyebrows. As of this writing, I still wake up every two to three hours to feed and rock her back to sleep. I can still function properly at work. I don’t know how I do it without losing my mind. There’s no doubt, women are built for things like these.

  1. Sleep is Thrown out of the Window

I sorely miss sleep. I go to sleep at 9 PM and have to wake up every two hours to feed the baby. I then finally get up at 4 AM to get ready for work as I have to be in the office before 6:30 AM. I travel for almost an hour to get to my job. I sometimes wish I’d have a long, uninterrupted sleep. With an infant, it’s almost impossible.

With baby’s erratic sleep, it’s expected that you will encounter a lot of sleep issues. They say it will go on even past the toddler stages. I just hope it gets better sooner than that with mine.

  1. There’s Really No Need to Buy a Lot of Baby Stuff

As I’ve said, we took great interest in shopping for baby stuff. We’d get the cutest things we could find. We bought a considerable number of baby clothes. However, those newborn clothes were only used mostly in the first month because our daughter grew like weed. She’s amazingly tall for her age. None of those cute onesies fit anymore.

The same goes for baby gears and toys. We bought an expensive playpen and after 2 months of using it, we exchanged it for a 52-inch wooden crib because the playpen couldn’t support our daughter’s weight and length anymore. How I’d wish we just went with the wooden crib in the first place to save us a lot of money.

  1. Surprise Expenses

Aside from buying tons of diapers and wet wipes, there are other expenses that come out of the blue, such as medicine and medical fees and babysitting costs. We’ve realized the importance of setting aside some cash on these things, so we don’t end up getting frantic when an emergency strikes.

  1. Kids Developing at their Own Timeframe

I’m actually a very competitive person, so seeing my daughter struggle during tummy time really pressured me to get her into doing it as often as possible until she learns to sit on her own at a very early age. I wanted her to learn to walk and talk before she turns one year old, so she can be ahead of most children her age. As it turns out, I was being hard on her and on myself.

I now accept the fact that each kid develops at his or her own time. Our daughter would surprise us each day with her new tricks and we’d wonder how she ever learned to do such things all by herself.  Looking back, I remember myself only learning how to read at 7 years old. But once I learned how to read, my love for books and writing never stopped.

  1. Addicted to Taking Many Photos and Videos

You can never take too many pictures of your child. I’m guilty of this. You’ll seldom find selfies in my smartphone anymore. It has become our daughter’s digital photo album.

Just always remember to have a back up of your photos and videos. Some moments are too precious to lose forever.

  1. Date Night has Taken a New Form

My husband and I still manage to get out for a date night alone. However, instead of focusing on one another over a fancy dinner, we always spend most of the time talking and worrying about our child. Once we’ve paid the bill, we both just can’t wait to get home to be with her.

  1. Breastfeeding isn’t Easy

Studies show that women who breastfeed exclusively tend to have higher levels of education, higher income, better access to healthcare, and are more likely engaged in healthy prenatal behaviors than their counterparts.

Just pop your breast out and baby can immediately satisfy his or her hunger. It’s just like a walk in the park, right? Breastfeeding may be natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s in fact bloody hard work.

My milk came in after two days!

Our daughter is exclusively breastfed and I intend to keep it like that for as long as possible. However, breastfeeding- especially during the first few months- can be exhausting. You’ll need plenty of rest to maintain your milk supply, but with a baby that’s always hungry, sleep is next to impossible.

You also have to keep in mind that what you eat your baby also eats. So you must try to maintain a healthy diet as much as you can. Caffeine is still out of the question for me. I can chug 3 liters of water at work just so my supply doesn’t drop because I pump 3x a day. Furthermore, I buy different kinds of galactagogues (milk-enhancer) to increase my milk production.

Long story short: I’ve put so much effort just to give my child the best nutrition possible.

I may have mentioned a laundry list of negative things, but these are all nothing compared to looking at my baby and marveling at the miracle that came out of me. It’s funny to think that I could love someone so much. Now, I’ve got a whole lot of things to look forward to.

Believe it or not, I am actually finding motherhood fun.

 

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Nikkah Lubanga- Sanchez

Blogger at Chic Prose
A writer by day, reader, diaper-changer, monster slayer at night. She's the wife of a rock star wedding photographer and the mother of Prym, the unicorn rider. She loathes writing in the third person and terribly misses the taste of coffee in her mouth.
Nikkah Lubanga- Sanchez
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