I was the best mom before I had a baby. The best. Unfortunately for me, many of the "mom plans" I made when I was pregnant, totally went out the window once I actually became a mom. However, for at least a little while — before I actually had a child — I could claim that I was the best mom to ever mom. Those were the days.
If you spend a lot of time on parenting sites on the internet, you read about and hear about and discover all sorts of plans. "I plan to exclusively breastfeed my perfect baby until they politely request I stop," and, "I plan to use organic cloth diapers," and, "I plan on having my baby sleep in their crib from the night we bring him or her home from the hospital," and the always-popular, "I plan to never let my baby watch screens," are just a few of the many pre-baby plans soon-to-be mothers concoct. I made all of these plans (and more, if I'm being honest) and I learned, sometimes painfully, that even the best laid plans made with the best of intentions, don't always cut it after baby is here.
Life changes, parenting is always different than you initially imagine it to be, and you, your partner, and or your child have needs that never occurred to you when you were in the prenatal planning phase of motherhood. You live and learn, shed a few tears, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and bring the baby to bed so you can get some sleep. So, with that in mind, if you've made the following pre-baby plans only to ditch them rather quickly once you became a mom, know that you're not alone.
To Have An Unmedicated Childbirth
This particular plan, for me, lasted for about 12 hours of intense and excrutiating back labor. Now, my birth plan is to get an epidural as soon as humanly possible. I wonder if I can get one now?
To Exclusively Breastfeed
I had always planned to exclusively breastfeed my babies. I attended classes, bought a pump, and was proud to breastfeed. Then my daughter was born and I realized that I couldn't produce enough breast milk to nourish her.
After a deep depression, countless visits with lactation consultants, and a NICU stay, I made peace with her getting formula, too. Eventually, I lost my supply entirely and switched to formula. I finally fell in love with this tiny human I created and learned to love myself as a badass mom. With my son, I happily combo-fed both breast milk and formula from the start, giving him what he needed to grow and thrive.
To Make My Own Baby Food
I spent my third trimester making homemade, organic baby food and freezing it in ice cube trays. After my daughter was born, I discovered that I would rather spend my spare time snuggling with her than blending apples and squash. As it turned out, she was much more interested in the food on mommy's plate, anyway. Go figure.
To Limit "Screen Time"
During my pregnancy, I was an avid reader of the American Academy of Pediatrics' website and mommy blogs. I learned that screen time would irreparably harm my child and that they should not see any screens before they became 2-year-old toddlers.
Then I became a mom, and realized that screens are everywhere, and educational programming can be great. So, when I became pregnant with my second child and had horrible morning sickness, I decided that it was better that my daughter watch Netflix than watch mommy vomit in the bathroom. Everything in moderation.
To Lose The Baby Weight Before Returning To Work
Prior to getting pregnant, I suffered from disordered eating. Pregnancy is hard, and pregnancy body changes are amazingly hard for someone who derives self-worth from what they see in the mirror.
After having baby, I learned to make peace with the things about my new body that I couldn't change, develop a new routine to work towards realistic weight loss goals and to cut myself some slack because I just grew a freaking human in my body.
To Use Cloth Diapers
I spent hundreds of dollars on cloth diapers for my daughter. It was super fun, they were cute, and eventually I found a routine that worked for us. So, it only made sense that I would plan to use them with my son.
Then, I became a single mom to two kids under four. I worked full-time and was so tired at the end of the day that I fell asleep with the kids. Bu-bye cloth diapers, hello disposables.
To Work Full Time
I had always planned to put my kids first, but to also have a successful career as a non-profit executive. Then, well, I had my babies. I loved my job, but not the 65-hour work weeks, stressful client meetings, and days full of driving, working, and little time for sleeping or eating.
Last year I chose to leave my full-time job to write freelance and work part-time, and I have never been happier. Who knew? I sure didn't.
To Make My Baby's Clothes
I bought patterns. I bought fabric. I even still have the one pair of pants I made before my daughter was born. Now I know that I have neither the time nor the energy to make baby clothes that I can just purchase from the clearance rack at Target. I did finally finish my daughter's quilt, five years after she was born. She still snuggles with it at night.
To Never Let My Daughter Wear Pink
As a feminist pregnant woman with a girl, I felt that it was my responsibility to raise my daughter to be empowered, to love herself, and to not buy into traditional gender roles. As a mom to a daughter, I've learned that it's important to let her make choices about her clothes and to decide what she, as a feminist, wants to wear. At first it was pink and ruffles, anything Frozen, and Hello Kitty. Now, she's more of a rocker girl with pink hair and rainbow running shoes. All of it is OK with me.
To Never Bring My Baby To Bed
My plan to have my daughter sleep in her crib lasted about twelve hours after I brought her home from the hospital. She cried and cried and wanted to be held and fed all night long. We bought a bed-side cosleeper and never looked back.
Bwahahaha. That's a good one.
To Share Parenting Responsibilities Equally With My Husband
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my now ex-husband and I had planned to parent our children as equal partners. I didn't know he'd turn out to be a less-than-stellar partner, and that I would be primarily responsible for child-rearing: morning wake-ups, doctor's appointments, day care drop offs, bedtime kisses, midnight feedings, you freakin' name it. I cherish those private memories and have an amazing relationship with my kids.
Now, I have an awesome partner who I know will be there with me through it all with all of our kids. We're just not making any plans, yet. Been there. Done that.