“I am so tired.” She said, “why don’t they tell you about this?”
“Bu-uh-ut,” I stammered. “I did tell you.” And I had, over and over again, for at least the last four months of her her pregnancy.
“Oh, I know,” she answered. “I just didn’t realize that no sleep, meant really no sleep.”
I thought back to all the times I’d tried to warn her and I knew I was partially to blame. It’s true. We don’t tell our pregnant friends everything, not because we don’t think they can take it, not because we don’t think they’ll believe us, but because it hurts to relive it and it’s easier to joke about sleepless nights than to go into details about how hard it really is.
So, my dears, here it is, the dirty dirty truth. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
No one tells you that you will stand in the shower day after day and sob because you can’t stand the thought of getting out and facing your baby again. No one tells you that some days you stand in that shower and it takes all your willpower not to curl up into a ball on the ground under the pelting shower stream. You don’t let yourself because you know that you’d never get up again.
No one tells you that with every lost hour of sleep you go slowly a bit more crazy and that the middle of the night is the darkest, scariest, and loneliest time. That you will dread the dusk because it’s the signal that night is coming and you just don’t know if you can survive another night.
No one tells you that you will grow to hate being touched and that some days it will again take all your willpower not to scream when someone places a hand on you, even as a gesture of love and support. By the same token, no one tells you that you will grow to hate sex or even the promise of sex and resent the person requiring it from you. Sex becomes just another chore at the end of a long and tedious day of tending to people’s needs. A chore that requires a lot of touching.
No one tells you that spending all day with a baby is boring. Mindnumbingly boring.
No one tells you that you will feel like half your brain has up and left you. You will forget everything. You will lose the ability to multi-task. You will lose the ability to form a coherent sentence.
No one tells you that you will resent, and even sometimes hate your kids, for many, many things like destroying your body and stealing your brain.
No one tells you that you’re going to lose your hair by the fistful and pee your pants when you sneeze.
No one tells you that you will hate breastfeeding. That it’s going to be the hardest thing you will ever have done. That your nipples will crack and bleed and that you will have to bite down on something, a blanket, your t-shirt, a burp cloth, every time the baby latches on. That you might not produce any milk or that you might produce too much and that you’re going to feel betrayed by your boobs over and over again. And yet you will persevere long beyond what a rational person would endure and yet you won’t be able to articulate why you can’t just quit and admit defeat already.
No one tells you how relieved you will be if you do finally throw in the towel and just focus on enjoying your baby or when miraculously your nursing woes vanish and you suddenly realize that you haven’t needed to bite down on something during the latch in a while.
No one tells you that you will feel like every other mother is doing a much better job and that you know they think you’re a terrible mom.
No one tells you that you will constantly second guess every little parenting decision you make.
No one tells you that you will be sure that your baby secretly hates you.
No one tells you that you’re terrified that your child will love her daycare providers more than you. And they might tell you that it’s not true, but you won’t believe them until you see it for yourself.
No one tells you that you will eventually grow to want sex again. That you’ll want to be hugged and touched again. That you’ll have time to spend with your partner and that you’ll want it that way.
No one tells you that you will fall in love with your baby, maybe not on day one or even on day 30, but on one day, when you will wake up and look into those eyes and understand why people kill to protect their children.
No one tells you just how much your life will change, how much you will change, how much your relationship with others will change. Or how OK you will eventually be with all that, once you make peace with your body’s shortcomings and finally, finally, get some sleep.