To say I wasn't ready to be a mother is an understatement. No matter how many books I read or moms I talked to, I really had no clue what I was in for, and it was so different than I envisioned it would be. It involves more poop, less sleep, more love, and way more tears than I expected. I wasn't prepared for so many things, including how much I would love my daughter and how hard it would be. Then, of course, there were the things no one tells you about the first time your baby cries, which made me wildly unprepared and at a loss when I heard my newborn daughter's first ever wail. It damaged my exhausted new mom psyche. I had no idea what was wrong, how to fix it, and how to stop crying myself. It broke my heart and scared the crap out of me at the same time.
Here I was, feeling like a bus had hit me and somebody left me responsible for this tiny human who wouldn't stop crying. It nearly broke me. I tried everything to comfort her, finally discovering that what she wanted most was me. She needed to be held, nursed, and snuggled close by the very person who brought her into the world. It was great, to be sure, but only for about the first hour and then I got tired and tried to put her down, only to have her start crying again.
Now, I know logically that crying is the only mechanism that babies have to communicate their needs, but seriously, it would be so much easier if your smartphone could translate their cries so you could figure out just what in the ever-loving hell is wrong. Because, in my experience, just when you think you can recognize their cry and the applicable solution, you discover that sometimes babies cry for no freaking discernible reason and there's absolutely nothing you can do. I wasn't prepared for that at all, or really any of the following:
That Your Heart Would Hurt
It physically hurt me to hear my daughter cry. I wanted so badly to make everything OK. She was hurting, and I felt helpless and alone. I mean, who decided to leave me responsible for a newborn? You all must have lost your damn minds.
That You Won't Know How To Fix It
Eventually, I started to figure out what my baby's cries meant. Her piercing, urgent cry meant she was hungry, her slow fussy cry meant she was wet or there was some sort of poop situation going on, and her mewing baby kitten cry that got louder and more intense the longer it went on meant she wanted to be picked up now. The first few times, however, I had no idea what was wrong or how to help.
That Your Touch Will Be Magic
Then I discovered what I like to call the magical mommy force field. Something about being held, rocked, or having my boob in their mouths seemed to always calm my babies down immediately. It's like magic. Well, less magical at two in the morning, but amazeboobs, nonetheless.
That Your Breasts Will Leak
That You'll Feel Like A Mama Bear
When one of my babies would cry, because someone was hurting them —like the time my daughter sat on her baby brother's head or the time that another baby bit my son at day care — I was shocked at how quickly I went full-on mama bear. I didn't think that I could feel so protective.
That Your Baby Will Cry All Night Long
On my daughter's second night of life she had my boob in her mouth for hours and I hadn't slept much in two days. Every time my daughter would start to fall asleep, I would set her down gently and slowly back away. Then her eyes would pop back open and she would start to cry, again, as if to say, "Where are you mommy? I was so comfy. I don't want to be alone." Then I would think to myself, "I can't do this."
That You'll Cry, Too
I got so overwhelmed when my babies would cry. I started to ask myself some pretty intense questions. Is this normal? Will my baby ever sleep? Is my baby getting enough breast milk? What's wrong? Why won't my baby stop crying? Am I doing this right? Why did I even have a baby? Am a terrible mother already? FML.
That It Will Make You Angry
I never expected to feel angry with my baby. She was just a tiny person with no other way to communicate. Rationally, I knew that. Still, sometimes I had to force myself to set her down and walk away for a second. I made myself get a cup of coffee or use the bathroom a lone or really do anything to calm myself down for a moment. I needed a quiet second or two to decompress, get back to neutral, and figure out what to do next.
That You'll Fall In Love With Another Human Being In A Way You Couldn't Have Possibly Imagined
I had no idea how much I could love another human being until I had a child. Hearing them cry, feeling helpless, and being willing to try anything — including midnight stroller rides, hours of walking the same path between my room and the nursery, and letting my baby use me as a pacifier — made it clear to me how much I loved them.
Eight years later, I have heard my babies (and big kids) cry many times. Honestly, I'm still not always prepared or know what they need. I do, however, always have a hug and a box of tissues, because motherhood is not for the faint of heart and you never know when your kids (or you, for that matter) will cry.