Have you seen those magazine covers with happy, cheerful mothers and their blissfully happy babies? If you think having a baby is pretty much what the covers portray, then mind you, you need to know the other side of the coin too. While the moments of bliss are obviously there, but life after a baby can be vastly different than what you imagined it to be. Babies bring with them joy and happiness that fill the entire house and your life with happy gurgles. And soon, before you even realize it, the little one becomes the center of your universe. When the baby smiles you smile, when she laughs you feel like your heart is bursting with happiness. And when she rolls over, you feel like the proudest parent on the entire planet.
Unfortunately, this bundle of joy also needs a lot of your attention and care which your battered, after-labor body can hardly begin to comprehend. From a blissfully inactive phase of pregnancy when you are sitting on a couch and munching, well ... almost anything that you can lay your hands on. You suddenly find yourself faced with dizzying amounts of work which include changing diapers, feeding a wailing baby, washing little onesies and carefully cutting little fingernails which seem to grow in a day.
To top it all, you will have to deal with a lot of unsolicited advice from just about everyone. Right from your next-door (irritating) neighbor to your "knowledgeable in-laws". The best one I heard was, "After having a baby your life will really slow down (Really ... I wish!) and you will never be able to live your life on a whim (As if I went on frequent Vegas trips before having the baby). So, who said parenthood was easy? Here are some ways in which a baby will turn your world upside down and how in your own way you can adjust with these changes.
The Smile that Flips Your World
If you did not believe in love at first sight then you will do so now. When your baby smiles for the first time, and those tiny hands clutch your fingers in that tight grasp, you will know about pure love and believe me, it's magical. For some parents, baby love is instantaneous and for others it may take some time. However, rest assured, very soon your entire world will revolve around your new love.
You talk to the baby while he or she stares at you with wonder, soothe him or her when they are crying and even make stupid faces just to see your baby give that adorable toothless smile.
Babies grow up really fast and before you know the baby that you brought home in your arms has suddenly started to roll over and make sounds when you talk to her.
With a baby, everyday seems like a new day. Some days she likes mashed apples, other days its mashed bananas. One day you discover she hates them both and instead likes mashed potatoes. Continuously changing baby habits are both exasperating and funny.
You Make Smart Financial Choices ... Finally!
Is it too soon to start saving for college? For a parent who wants the best for their child it is never too soon. So, all the splurging on clothes and shoes for yourself (This does not include "baby shopping." After all how can you say "no" to that cute pink dress with that adorable bunny) is now replaced with "intelligent" discussions on how to save money for college for a one-year old baby.
You Rediscover Childhood and its Joys Once Again
Remember the time you used to sit and look at pictures of Cinderella who seemed just so-so pretty at that time? Of course, with time pretty Cinderella took a backseat. Now, with a toddler in your arms who urges you to read and re-read the story all the time, you suddenly realize how much you missed Cinderella, those silly, nursery rhymes and the cat-chasing-the-mouse cartoons.
You Discover an Inner Strength as a Parent
During pregnancy one of the things that constantly bothers women is whether they would be able to take care of a baby. It is a daunting task no doubt, but somehow becoming a parent makes a person realize how strong he or she is. Who would have imagined that you could feed the baby, change diapers, cook and clean the house and most importantly do all this at the same time.
There are days when you feel exhausted, and all you want is a good sleep. Having a baby however, pushes your limits of physical and mental endurance, and soon you realize that you are much stronger than what you imagined yourself to be.
You Fall in Love With Your Partner
Admit it ... every woman at some or the other time imagines the love of their life with a baby. There is something about watching a big, burly man carrying a tiny baby in his arms that can just melt your heart. Not to forget the clumsy attempts to hold the baby "the right way" or change diapers. It is just adorable and makes you fall in love with your partner just then.
You Join the Worldwide Club Called "Parents"
After having a baby suddenly, you find people reacting to you differently. All because of the little bundle of joy in your arms. Now mothers at supermarkets and at church smile at you. People look at the little baby in your arms and go "awww...so cute."
Moreover, there are changes in your behavior as well. So, instead of giving the couple with a wailing baby at a restaurant a "Can't-you-shut-the-baby-up?" look you now give them a "I-understand" look.
You Will Love Your Parents Even More
Becoming a parent makes you appreciate your own parents that much more. The sacrifices they made to raise you, the nights they stayed awake just because you had a test the next day at school. And the way they worried about you constantly, are so much more significant, now that you are faced with the same situation.
Now you don't say "It was their job" or "How hard can it be?" After all, you have realized it's a lot harder than it appears.
You Have Your Very Own "Alarm Clock"
If you thought baby care was all about singing lullabies, then the first sleepless night you spend will make you realize that baby care is in fact a lot about "no sleep." So, say goodbye to a good night's sleep.
You will be waking up after every two or three hours to feed the baby, change diapers or just to soothe the baby back to sleep. It can be exhausting and grueling for a new mom who not only has to care for a baby but also recover physically from the rigors of childbirth.
Tip: Let your husband share your duties like changing diapers at night while you get some sleep. In the daytime, when the baby is sleeping, instead of finishing household chores lay down beside the baby and get some rest.
Caring For the Baby is a 24x7 Job
Caring for a baby is not easy and to top it, you probably have to juggle a lot more things with it. Like doing dirty laundry (how does a tiny being create so much laundry anyway?), cleaning the dishes, doing housework and making baby food. Not to forget, baby-duties like feeding, changing and carrying the baby which carry on uninterrupted between the short baby naps. Among all this mayhem, you can feel like all your personal time has gone for a toss. Simple things like a long, comforting shower or even ten minutes in the loo without any disruptions seems like a luxury.
Tip: Don't try to do everything at the same time. Take breaks and try to focus on things that need immediate attention while keeping others for the next day.
Dealing With a Lot of Visitors
Expect a lot of visitors, including family and friends, after having a baby. So after a tiring day when the baby just nods off to sleep, and all you want to do is hit the bed, you are suddenly faced with an unwelcome visitor. While it is fun to show off your baby, do you really want guests at this point?
Tip: Let your friends and family know that you are busy. Some people will understand, while others may not. However, rest and sleep are important for both the mother and baby at this point, so it is best to get your point across. Invite your friends and family for a get-together once in a week, and let them meet your darling.
After having a baby you may be on an emotional roller-coaster with constant mood swings. So you are happy one day and the next day you could be crying inconsolably? Mild postpartum depression, also known as baby blues, is quite normal for parents (Yes ... it affects men as well). Moreover, all the sleepless nights and tiring schedule in the day can catch up with you for sure.
Tip: While baby blues are quite normal, extreme postpartum depression can be a cause for significant concern. If there are extreme bouts of crying, sleep deprivation and irritability months after having a baby, then it is best to consult a medical practitioner.
Your Relationship Takes a Hit
From being a happy twosome, you are now a threesome. Obviously, with the baby being the center of attention, the equation of your relationship as a couple changes. Most of the time the dads feel a little left out from the mother-child equation, since finding time for one another becomes quite a challenge. Of course your sex life goes for a toss as well with even a tiny whimper from a sleeping baby totally spoiling your mood. Not to mention you both are so exhausted that "doing it" seems more like a chore. Women also feel extremely self-conscious about their post-pregnancy bodies.
Tip: Make time for each other and if you can't, then communicate with your partner. Make him understand that it is not that you want to avoid spending time with him, but you are just too exhausted to do so. As the baby grows up things will get a bit easier. Men need to be patient. After all, their wives have been through a tough time physically and having sex may not be a priority for her now.
Social Life ... What Social Life?
If you are one of those social animals who go for every party that you are invited to, then having a baby can really kill your social life. No more late-night parties or getting drunk. Now you are up late night but it is not to get drunk but to feed a wailing baby.
Tip: Catch up with your friends on the social media or call them up. Having a baby does not mean you suddenly end up friendless.
Diapers, baby food, baby clothes and everything related to babies is extremely expensive. With a one-income family the monthly finances can go for a toss.
Tip: Save up and avoid useless spending on expensive baby clothes (Yes ... even if the pink dress with the bunny looks very cute).
You stop smelling like your favorite perfume and instead smell like baby powder (or sometimes baby vomit and regurgitated milk) all the time.
You realize that the cotton candy and lollipops have magical powers.
Silence? Is there such a thing?
You no longer wear white unless you love the baby food patterns on it after some time
High heels and painted toenails? Ha...Ha...Ha
You are no longer repulsed by the sight of baby poop.
You learn the art of making funny baby faces
Your conversation now includes words like "baa-baa" and "boo-boo."
Dressing up seems like a waste of time since everyone seems to be looking at the adorable, little baby in your arms rather than you.
Nothing in the wardrobe fits any more (except for the maternity clothes). Yay!!! shopping time.
Eating out is classified as successful and unsuccessful and it has more to do with the baby's mood than the chef's expertise.
You realize that having a rigid loo schedule is a laughable concept.
Being a parent can be a tough job but it's totally worthwhile. It is important to understand that parenting comes with a bit of guilt (We all want to be perfect parents, don't we?) and some or the other time there are bound to be some mistakes. It is important to understand no one is born with the inherent knowledge of burping or swaddling a baby. You learn it one sleepless night and one dirty diaper at a time. However, ask any mother or father and they will tell you that nothing in the world could make them trade a life with their baby.