Once upon a time, a human being, complete with shoulders and fingers and a whole big head of hair, decided to come out of my vagina and then demanded that I feed and bathe and dress her while never once saying thank you or please or even offering to pick up the tab once as a gesture of good faith. And I decided to go along with this one-sided deal because sometimes she would smile at me as if she recognized that I was the same person who had that cozy, handy uterus she grew to know and love for all of those months.
Also, because her dad and I drank too much wine that one time and basically created her life, so I’d feel kind of guilty leaving her with a note on the front step of one of our neighbor's porch, being like, “She’s cute but also can blow gas like nobody’s business. You’re welcome and thank you.” And because our neighbors would probably recognize her as that kid belonging to the sleepy couple that used to shower a few months ago and then bring her back. And I’m uncomfortable with confrontation, so we’ll go ahead and just keep feeding and bathing her so that it doesn’t get awkward.
Plus, new motherhood made me a ball of anxiety that could never let me even leave the room without her, so it’d probably make that whole “abandoning your newborn” thing a little more challenging. But mainly because our neighbors would totally bring her back.
Anyway, because a person grew inside of and then exited from my body and nobody told me what I was in for (or I wasn’t listening because it wasn’t happening yet), I will now continue the trend of giving completely helpful advice to people who won’t listen until after they’ve already experienced something they could’ve avoided - or at least been more prepared for.
You will catch poop in your hand. This is less something I wish I’d known and more something I just sort of wish I’d known wouldn’t actually be that big of a deal. I mean, I’d rather not hold another person’s poop in my hands, as a general rule. But if it has to be anyone’s, might as well be my daughter's. Basically because, when she was a baby, she couldn't help it and I'm sure she would totally rather take care of this whole thing herself, if she’s being honest. But during those early moments of life, when she was just starting to realize that her hands and feet were attached to her body and would still accidentally hit herself in the face at least three times a day, I did the poop-catching. Which I believe is what good parenting is all about.
You will love/hate your spouse. This is universal, I know this for sure. Because there are several moments where you will have simultaneous feelings of complete love and absolute hate for your partner. Which sounds harsh, especially when talking about the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with and is the father to your child. But it’s true.
Like, the other day I looked at him holding our daughter just after feeding her and thought how fortunate she and I were to have him. They were so adorable, he was so helpful, and I had 15 minutes to just sit there and not be a baby-manager.
And then the very next moment he complained about how tired he was (after his 8 consecutive hours of sleep) and if I hadn’t been so exquisitely tired from my 1.5 hours of consecutive sleep the prior three nights, I would’ve hit him. And it would’ve hurt for sure, because that was some visceral rage right there.
But then he cleaned her poop-up-the-front diaper and gave her a bath and I loved him wholeheartedly again. Until he left all of the dirty bottles on the counter before heading out to his job where he gets to hang with other adults for eight hours and I hated him all over again.
Oh also, he’ll love/hate you right back. Which gives you the balance you so desperately need in those first several months.
You really should procreate with someone you like. Not just someone you love. Because love won’t save you at 4 am during gas and screams (the baby’s, not yours – though it’s not out of the question). Like, on the other hand, will.
Like will get you to see past the fact that neither of you have showered, thought about, talked about, or even hung out around the idea of personal hygiene/grooming for a few days and it’ll move you right into acceptance that this is temporary and one or both of you (hopefully) will attempt to not be a trash heap of a human at some point again. And like will also help you remember that you felt something other than love-hate for this person at one point and they should eventually come back to resembling the person you married once you've both used deodorant again.
You will show (almost) literally anyone your vagina. I mean, not, like, when you get home and your in-laws come over for dinner. But while you’re in the hospital, prior to giving birth, I assure you that you will get to the point where someone will enter the room and you’ll be like, “Do you need to see my vagina?” Which sounds a bit forward before you've gone into labor. But let me save you the time and energy I spent for the first few hours of my 26-hour labor trying to be coy. For example, when someone would come in to check my cervix and I’d put my knees together, all lady-like. And then the nurse would explain that that’s not a helpful position to be in for cervix-checking but then I'd make Ian turn around because the cervix wasn't one of my sexier parts.
Cut to: three hours later when I finally just stopped pulling the sheet back up over me because that’s a lot of work. Here’s my vagina. I’m so sorry, housekeeping-lady-who-just-wanted-to-empty-the-garbage, I have no dignity left.
The baby comes out of your butt. Ok not really. But it certainly feels that way, which is terrifying. Why hasn’t anyone in the history of writing about childbirth EVER mentioned that, when you’re approaching the moment when you'll have to push out a person, it suddenly feels like your baby is about to come out of your butt?
At one point, I turned to Ian and was like, “Ok, so I know we’ve gone ‘round the bend in the over-sharing department these last 24 hours, but since you’re the only person in the room, I need to tell you this: I’m pretty sure our baby is going to come out of my butt, and unless I missed something in health class, I think that’s the wrong place?”
And then he went to McDonald’s to get some dinner and bleach his eardrums. So I texted a friend and we had this exchange:
Me: So is this normal or weird that it feels like the baby is about to come out of my butt?
Her: Normal. Call your nurse. You’re about to have the baby!
Her: You’re having a baby. Call your nurse. Seriously. I can’t believe you’re even texting me right now.
And then, 35 minutes later, my daughter was born. Out of the normal part. Not my butt...I think.
So I hope this list was more helpful than what they say when prepping new moms on other websites. I mean, no offense, but telling me to bring my favorite music with me into the delivery room and having a birthing plan was unhelpful. Because I assure you that my birth plan would’ve included a lot less butt-pushing and a ton more Beyonce songs had this at all been within my control. Which it’s not. Because it’s about babies. Which should be the sixth point, actually: the only real thing you need to know about having babies is that the control goes out the window once you’re catching poop and showing the security guard your vagina.
Good luck, mama!