Through 18 weeks of research, I've drawn the conclusion that there are two types of baby stories: the told and slightly over-embellished stories and their wicked step-siblings, the untold and full of shame stories.
The former are most common. Parents regale everyone who will listen with their blissful baby blah, blah, blahs. They paint pictures of love at first sight, utter peace, beautiful bonding, family fun, rediscovered simplicity, cuddling, gazing, oohing and aahing over cooing and yawning until they and their audience are in a gumdrops-and-lollipops-trance where they can virtually feel the fuzzy feet of newborn sleepers and smell the wafting aroma of Johnson's Baby Bedtime Lotion.
The problem is, these stories don't paint the whole picture. There are the other stories.
The untold stories are a rare breed. Almost elusive if even existent at all. They are the dirty little secret stories new parents neglect to tell for fear of judgement, ridicule, backlash or just plain guilt. It's the absence of these stories that, I believe, leads to an unrealistic expectation of what parenthood is really like or at the very least, has the potential to be like. When they're left out, parents don't know the full gamut of what their about to experience.
Now, I'm no better. I tell all the fabulously fuzzy stories too. I could spend countless hours revealing all the wonderful that has come along with bringing a person into this world. My love has no limits and my stories exemplifying this don't either. However, let it now be known that I have a full arsenal of the untold stories as well and I feel it's about time these get to join the new parent story hour. It's about time people share the realities of parenthood. Here's a baker's dozen, no-holds-bar, list of revelations to get the ball rolling:
1. Maci peed on my side of the bed like five days ago. Since then I have placed a receiving blanket between my sheets and the mattress so as to avoid it actually soaking in to the mattress. I have yet to remove and/or wash the sheets. Urine is sterile right?
2. I now know why my sister is always brushing her teeth in the shower. If I don't take my toothbrush into the shower, most likely I will forget to or will run out of time to brush my teeth. I didn't brush them this morning and in fact, I don't believe I brushed them last night either.
3. My daughter has spit up on me almost every single time she has ate in the past two weeks. Not just some spit up, gobs full of slimy, milky, curdled spit up. And if it misses me and hits the floor, the dogs lick it up.
4. I have woke up some mornings to Maci's diaper being changed and have absolutely no recollection of changing it. I often can't remember if I've fed her or remember laying her back down. The worst is when I'm dreaming that I am holding her while I'm sleeping and I wake up terrified that I'm suffocating her when in fact, I'm suffocating my pillow.
5. I have yelled at, swore at, tried to rationalize with and been all-around frustrated with Maci. I always love her, but sometimes, I don't like her. And actually it's not that I don't like her either. I always like her, but sometimes, I don't like the way she is acting. There is a reason she is cute and there is a reason some species eat their young. I get it now. Trying to help something completely helpless without them being able to communicate what they need help with is like trying to survive in a foreign country when you can't speak the language. To that end, both Shawn and I have reached the point of lovingly placing Maci in her
crib and removing ourselves from her for the sake of her life and our
sanity. Shawn went into the other room and did some push ups. I went
into the back bedroom and sobbed into a pillow. To each their own and to all there is no harm or wrong in doing this. You are 100% completely normal if you get angry at a situation concerning your crying baby. Don't go to where the guilt it. Expect it, know that it's your circumstances that are making you feel this way, that it will pass and that you love your baby no less for the duration of the incident. This does not make you a bad person or a bad parent.
6. I have absolutely no idea what I was going to type here. I had the above number separated into two points and then I combined them to make room for this one and now, two minutes later and after an interruption from Shawn and Maci, it's gone. It might of had something to do with letting Maci sleep in her car seat at night because she had a cold and wouldn't cough so much sitting upright? Yeah, I'm not certain, but I'll go with that.
7. Shawn and I no longer eat together. We try, but usually, we fail. We also generally can't watch a movie together either. We tried that too and I think it took us literally all day to watch an hour and a half movie in 15 minute intervals while trying to get Maci to nap.
8. Napping. *&$#! Bree, my daycare provider, can get Maci to nap for two to three hours at a time. She will nap no longer then 45 minutes for me. It's getting better but there's nothing that will make you feel more like a failure as a parent then when a stranger can get your child to do something you can't. I know, I know. It's because she wants to be with us and see us and spend time with us but she also needs to sleep. She is like her Mom. We are bee-atches when we don't sleep.
9. This is going to be TMI so if you'd rather not get personal, skip to the next number. If you are a new father, don't expect to have sex again for a year. Yes, an entire year. It may happen before that but this way your expectations will be much more in line with reality and you won't be nearly as disappointed.
10. Never, ever try to have a rationale conversation at 3am. Call each other those explicit names, get it out of your system, don't take it personal, go to sleep and then have a conversation in the morning. It is perfectly normal to feel like you are always fighting with your spouse. With such stress and such little sleep, it's the perfect storm.
11. I haven't yet but Shawn has gone to the bathroom while holding Maci. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
12. I have hovered over my daughter for what feels like hours at a time. They put the fear of God and SIDS into you when you leave the hospital so much so that you literally think your baby will stop breathing if you are not there to witness it. It's sorta like the tree falling in the woods theory. It's still my number one fear and I'm still constantly checking and rechecking Maci and trying to sort out every irrational fear I have, but it is getting better. She is in her crib, in the other room and we no longer use the monitor. So far, it's been like heaven at night not to have to hear her every move and breath. It will seem impossible, trust me, I know, but turn the monitor off. Just do it during the day first. Then one night a week. Then maybe two. Work your way into it.
13. I have forgot to buckle Maci into her car seat not once, but twice, before driving somewhere. She survived and was frankly none-the-wiser.
I have a new found respect for single mothers. I honest to goodness don't know how they do it. I don't know how my sister did it with multiple kids and multiple dogs while going to school. I always thought she was crazy and now I know I was right. And I mean that in the best way possible.
Sara always says that although Sex and the City 2 was basically a horrible creation void of anything meaningful, and I agree, they did do one scene justice:
Now I'm not going to go through the ritual of telling you all the good stories I have that cancel out these so-called bad stories. You know, the good stories that make it all worth it. I know how I feel about Maci and my family and I don't feel the need to justify that to anyone. Further more, if you have any doubts as to how I feel about her or them, or feel compelled to express your opinion about the matter, come find me and we'll sit down and have a nice face-to-face chat. I'm pretty sure I know how that would go.
I also encourage you, if you're a new parent, to comment and reveal one of your untold stories. Let us keep the conversation going so as to avoid surprises and the ensuing guilt for future parents to be. Let's tell the whole story of what it truly means to be a new parent.