There’s a reason why there are countless books about being pregnant, giving birth, and raising tiny humans. While so many of them are genuinely informative (to downright life-saving), a huge percentage of baby books mostly prey on the fierce insecurity of first-time parents, who have literally never done this before. We will take all the advice we can get, and yes, we will pay money for it. In the end, nothing can truly prepare you for motherhood, which is why so many mothers have at least one thing they wish they had known before having their first kid.
When I got pregnant, I quizzed my mom, visited all the websites, and pestered my two mom friends to share everything they knew about parenting. My first pregnancy was very much planned and my parents had raised me to be a decent human being, so I wasn’t worried I’d fail miserably at being a mom. Still, no matter how much I thought I knew, it just wasn’t enough. When my first kid was born, it didn’t matter how hard I had studied; there were some things that took me completely by surprise.
I didn’t realize how little a baby could sleep. My newborn daughter would nap for maybe 30 minute stretches; barely enough time for me to shower and brush aside the remnants of my last meal before I was parked on the couch with her for another hour-long feeding session. I had no idea that my body would react so viscerally to her; my heart froze in my chest every time she cried, my gut seized when someone reached out to touch her, and endorphins flooded my whole body whenever I experienced “let down” when breastfeeding her. I have never felt more powerful than when I got that rush nursing her in the early months.
So, for every time a first-time mom thinks “I got this,” there are countless moments when we could have used a heads up. Having a baby rocks your world, and these 37 moms share the one thing they wish they had known before the ground underneath their feet started shaking:
Carol Ann, 43
"I wish I would have known to trust myself more. We don't give ourselves enough credit as mothers a lot of the times, but we do know our children best."
"How much money I actually had. After I had kids I was like: what did I do with that extra 10K every year before I had to pay for childcare and why didn't I save it?"
"Truth? That it's OK if you don't feel that strong motherly bond right away."
"How much of myself I would lose."
Lori Ann, 42
“That he would survive if everything that touched him wasn't completely sterile and brand new. I knew better with baby #2.”
“How I would never sleep the same again; any sound awakens me. Is someone sick? Nightmare? Does no one know the meaning of sleeping in? Even if I had the house to myself for one night, I doubt I would be able to sleep until 10 am anymore! And how fatigue can change who I am, my mood and decisions.“
“How much I can accomplish in one day as a mother and a person, being a single, full-time working mom.”
“How important mom friends are. I didn't figure it out for a couple of years. You bond with them as though you've gone through a traumatic experience together.”
“How much time I'd spend in a car, waiting for my toddler to wake from a nap. I dream of drive-through supermarkets and restaurants and libraries.“
“That I really didn't need a Diaper Genie, wipe warmer, or a lot of other baby items I got the first time around."
“That staying at home with an infant is really boring.”
“How you can actually love someone so much, and do anything (including giving your own life), for them.”
"That things will change no matter how much you convince yourself they won't. ‘I'm totally going to go to all the shows I want to see and hang out with my friends just as much!’ No, you are not."
"You thought you were busy now? You won't know what ‘busy’ is until you have a child."
"Onesies are designed to be pulled over the head or down over the shoulders, so if you have a blowout don't try to pull it over the baby's head, it will go down over their shoulders. That the Moby Wrap is really awesome, especially for newborns. That (at least in my case) co-sleeping meant more sleep for everyone, so just go for it."
"That breastfeeding is way fucking harder than anyone ever tells you. That, if you let it, trouble breastfeeding will consume every fiber of your being. Seriously, it's amazing to me that we've survived as a species for this long after seeing what a challenge breastfeeding can be. I must be a giant wuss. I ended up doing 80% breastmilk, 20% formula, which I now consider a huge success."
"It is so much easier to pack for just yourself. Packing for a baby or child should have been listed in Dante's Inferno."
"I wish I would have known more about postpartum depression (PPD) and resources for people suffering with PPD."
"I wish I knew how drastically my emotions would change on a dime. Navigating the world with my tiny human fills me with so much happiness and love and fear and everything."
"I wish I knew how hard it would be on my marriage."
"Wish I knew breech babies could be born vaginally with the right delivery team, and had picked that right team ahead of time!"
"I wish I knew how damn controversial every decision you make and how opinionated everyone (family members, moms at the park, celebrities, strangers at the grocery store) is about every decision you make. It is ridiculous and makes you question yourself, a lot, as a new mom."
"I wish I had known what despicable people my in-laws are. Every problem we've had with parenting as a couple is because of their hateful behavior and interference in our lives."
"Baby finger nails grow stupid fast and at some point you're going to clip them too closely."
"It's ridiculous to claim that you know children or know how to parent before you are a parent."
"Children aren't expensive, decisions are."
“I wish I would have said ‘no’ to being induced. The baby was fine; the doctor just didn’t want to stick around the day before a holiday weekend.
“No one told me a baby could sense when you have your period. My kid didn’t want to nurse at that time of the month and it totally freaked me out.”
“Nobody understood that I wanted to go back to work, that I needed to go back. I didn’t expect to feel so terrible about that choice.”
“The amount of planning and energy it takes to have the tiniest bit of a social life was surprising. I didn’t see most of my friends for months.”
“It doesn’t get easier, but it does get better.”
“They actually need their mom more as they get older. I feel like any good babysitter could have taken care of my baby, but who is going to help my tween deal with mean girls?”
“I didn’t know it was OK to think my kid was being a jerk sometimes. Everyone is trying to get you to raise a perfect human. That simply isn’t possible.”
"I wish I knew I needed a bigger freezer for all the breast milk I was obsessively pumping.”
“I should have tried to time my pregnancy better so my kid would be born in the spring. I think life is a little easier for kids when they’re not the youngest in their class.”
“I wish I had known there didn’t have to be dead silence for my baby to sleep. My husband and I spent the first year of my daughter’s life watching TV with the closed captioning on."
“I wasn’t prepared to be so forgetful, like my whole brain was taken over by thoughts of my kid and everything else was immediately forgotten.”