15 Women On What You Can Honestly Expect When You Bring Baby Home (Hint: The Word "Exhausted" Appears 7 Times)

Am I the only one who only has really fuzzy, vague memories of my baby’s first days at home? It’s like my mind has compressed the long hours of pacing, crying, trying to nurse, calling the doctor, and forgoing my own sleep to watch him sleep into one humorous montage, like something out of an quirky comedy about having a baby. Oh, and there was also that time his dad and I packed him up and took him back to the hospital ER on his second day home because we thought his umbilical cord stump was infected (it wasn’t.) The doctor was amazing though, and pleasantly told us that the bulk of his job was reassuring new parents. He gave us the chance to ask all the burning questions we’d built up in our son’s first 24 hours outside the hospital walls. He knew, as I think all seasoned parents know, that the early days are practically guaranteed to be a complete mess. A beautiful mess, don’t get me wrong, but a mess nonetheless.

And I don't think we were expecting things to look and feel and play out exactly as they did. All the reading we'd done before our kid was born has done well to equip us with information and facts, but once we were living that newborn life, we were turned inside out and flummoxed trying to figure out if what we felt and thought and generally what are lives were like in that moment, was normal. Because so much of it — the feelings especially — didn't match up to anything we'd heard before. So either 1) we were terrible parents, 2) our friends were intentionally hiding the truth from us because they wanted us to suffer, or 3) people in general are not used to being super direct and brutally honest about what happens when you bring home a new baby.

So on that note, we’ve rounded up some super-smart moms to give us their best words of wisdom about their first days of motherhood. You might want to bookmark this one so you can refer back when you’re trying to sleep after changing (another) 3 a.m. diaper. You’re not alone.

Those first 5 weeks are BRUTAL, sleep wise. I once caught myself rocking a 12 pack of soda like it was the baby (baby was safe in his crib). And I cried over everything, including chicken wings. – Jenn
Expect to fall in love — the smell, the clenched fists, the tiny socks, the soft eyes, it'll make your heart explode. And expect to cry. A lot. Out of love and exhaustion and frustration, and just plain shock over the whole ordeal. – Laura
People are not exaggerating about the exhaustion. When my twins came home they were on formula, so we were constantly sterilizing bottle parts and washing everything and being crazy germ maniacs (they were in the NICU, and it’s impossible to leave that place without germaphobia). Anyway, we’d been given some canned formula from our pediatrician that needed to be opened with a can opener, and my first exhausted thought was, “Hmm, better sterilize it!”. And then my second exhausted thought was, “I’ll just put it in one of those microwave sterilizer bags and it’ll be done in 3 minutes!” So I microwaved a can opener. And it didn’t occur to me why that was a terrible idea until I saw sparks inside the microwave and FINALLY put two and two together. True story. – Alana
Poop. Poop of all kinds. As long as it's not red or black, it's OK. Don't freak out of it it's too soft, don't freak out if it's too brown or green or yellow. The GI tract is adjusting to life outside the womb and 99% of all the poop in the poop rainbow will be normal. – Ana
You might not love your baby right away. You might not love your baby for months. That doesn’t mean you won’t “love” your baby, like, as a verb, as a thing you do, but it might not be a thing you really feel — at least not in your preconceived sense of the feeling — for a while. I mean, when was the last time you felt totally in love with a stranger? Your baby is a new person who you might need to get to know in order to fully love, and that’s cool. Don’t be shocked or worried if you aren’t buried by an immediate avalanche of love for your kid on Day 1. – Jessica
You may have moments where you are simultaneously bored [as f*ck] and incredibly overwhelmed and unable to "do" anything. You will be covered in body fluids of all kinds, yours and bebbeh's, so don't wear anything fancy. – Jamie
For new parents: the first 6 weeks are HARD. You will be overwhelmed and there will be moments of mourning the independence you once had. This is normal and does not make you a bad parent! – Anna
Expect to not understand why medical professionals just sent you home with a brand new human being as if it's no big deal. – Rachel
Total Exhaustion. – Reina

Frankly, the hardest thing was realizing how hard it was to poop. After the trauma my lady bits went through, it was like icing on the cake. Also knowing it was literally only getting worse by the second. Not at all prepared for the constipation. Hard to relax on the toilet to try to let it be when at any second this teeny human you have no idea what to do with could start screaming. – Laura

You will call poison control more than you ever thought possible! – Kaycee
New parents need to know by Day 4, the excitement and all energy has been sucked out of you. This is normal, and let people help you! – Suzanne
No two babies are alike, so you can read all the books and get all the advice and you'll still be unprepared. – Tiffany
Nursing [does not come naturally to most people] in the beginning, i.e,. neither you nor baby just "know how to do it." It's beautiful and intimate and wonderful, yet frustrating and maddening and insecurity-making too, and for some moms it never gets "natural.” Also, there's more than just a chance that your hormones will make you certifiably crazy. – Jaimi
You will never truly understand exhaustion until you bring home a new baby. – Shannon

Images: Allison Gore/Romper; Giphy(15)