Motherhood: Expectation vs. Reality

Before becoming a mum I thought I knew exactly what it would be like, what I’d want to be like as a parent and what I’d do in every major situation you can think of. They were thoughts I’d collated over the years of watching others around me parent and I thought (rather smugly, I’ll admit) that it’d be a breeze. Then I had the baby…

Sleep

Expectation: Newborns sleep a LOT don’t they?! Every time you see one on TV they’re asleep so it must be the truth. Nice long naps at frequent intervals, waking only to feed before dropping back to sleep easily. Simple.

Reality: Clearly our baby has a massive case of FOMO (fear of missing out) because he hated sleeping. Genuinely hated it. The only way you could get him to sleep was to bounce him for a minimum of thirty minutes which resulted in major knee pain for both me and the husband that continues to this day. Once asleep he would only stay that way if held semi upright against the body before waking every ten minutes just to make sure you were still having as much fun. Bounce, sleep, wake, repeat. Forever.

Motherhood Expectation vs Reality

Breast-feeding

Expectation: Breast-feeding is so natural and oh so easy. Women have been doing it for centuries in all walks of life. It’ll be nothing compared to labour anyway!

Reality: Oh my. Breast-feeding is anything other than the easy route. Looking back on it now, I should have known that any body part that’s being mashed and sucked for 23 hours of the day would get sore but who thinks of that?! We spent hours squishing, prodding and pushing my boobs into his (tiny) mouth and achieve the Holy Grail aka. THE PERFECT LATCH. We then battled cluster-feeding (ouch), mastitis (double ouch) and nipple thrush (unbelievable ouch) before finally appearing to hit our stride. We’ve even kept going through him getting teeth and becoming the pinchiest, grabbiest baby in town. I’m quite proud to have exceeded my expectations and still be feeding at eleven months; we’re still going!

The Moses Basket

Expectation: Co-sleeping – yes. Bed sharing – nooooooo never. Don’t people know how dangerous it can be? We set up a Moses basket by the bed and another in the lounge so that we didn’t have to keep carrying it up and down the stairs. Mental images of me sat reading a book whilst the baby napped soundly next to me were abundant, there may have been bunches of grapes alongside me in that fantasy. Possibly.

Reality: Smug parents, we were not. No books, no grapes, no sodding Moses basket. If we thought getting him to sleep was hard, getting him to sleep in the basket was harder. We managed two nights of pure hell before blearily agreeing to pop him in the bed with us. I sat bolt upright for nearly two weeks terrified to sleep in case I dropped him whilst he snored away between bouncing and feeds. Finally, we cracked and bought a co-sleeping crib which gave me something to jam my body on to whilst he hogged the bed. Entirely what it was meant for. What happened to the Moses baskets? They became laundry holders/clothes horses – definitely a missed marketing opportunity there. This continued for months before we gave in and packed them away.

Motherhood Expectation vs Reality

My Body Image

Expectation: Okay so I put on more weight than I ever intended – no, it wasn’t twins, thanks for asking. However, breastfeeding shrinks weight off like magic so it will all be fine. The baby will sleep all day long and I’ll use that time to workout religiously and lose all the weight. Yummy mummy here I come(y?).

Reality: The first few weeks I lost a substantial amount of weight purely from the fact I no longer had a person inside of me. I’m sure breastfeeding would help you lose weight (although I’ve heard wildly varying reports of this) but it also makes you ravenous. When the baby wasn’t clinging to me demanding attention (who knew babies were so needy?!), I lay on the bed willing myself to sleep rather than pounding it out on the treadmill. With that in mind, I resigned myself to putting up with things for a couple of months whilst life settled back to a new normal and generally avoiding mirrors. It’s been eleven months. It’s probably time I stopped that.

The Maternal Side

Expectation: I really struggled to connect to the fact that I was Having. A. Baby. My expectations for how I would feel after birth were pretty low because of this; I was scared that I wouldn’t be maternal enough or that I just didn’t have the gene.

Reality: When he was born I was deep in shock but in the following few hours my husband slept and I just sat, holding my son and staring at him as he snorted away in his sleep. That protective, awed feeling that is so difficult to describe. When he smiles, it makes my chest hurt. When he cries, it does the same. Even when he’s driving me crazy (which is often), it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

 

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Motherhood Expectations vs Reality

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A similar version of this post originally appeared as a guest article for Mimi Rose and Me.

25 Comments

  1. 21st April 2017 / 7:40 am

    Oh wow can I relate to this post! I thought I’d be working out while baby napped in his rocking chair. I don’t know where this fantastic came from because I never worked out BEFORE baby so why would I do it now he is here?!

    • DevonMamaOnline
      21st April 2017 / 9:33 pm

      Because obviously the hormones would make you WANT to work out!! I had such great plans… 11 months later I’m still spending my evenings on the sofa eating chocolate!

  2. 21st April 2017 / 2:41 pm

    Yes!! My kids all have loathed sleep because they are too busy! It leads to being overtired and screaming….I thought if they’re tired they would sleep…WRONG. 😂🤦‍♀️
    Isn’t it funny how we Plan and think we know and the reality check comes? And for some things every kid is different, so you get more with the next kid because “this isn’t what worked for the first…” Parenting is truly a forever lesson! 🙂 thank you for sharing!

    • DevonMamaOnline
      21st April 2017 / 9:35 pm

      Noooo don’t say that, I was hoping number 2 would be flawless parenting!! What I don’t understand is how am I so clueless?!!? I’m a grown adult!! x

  3. 24th April 2017 / 2:38 am

    This really provides a realistic outlook on parenthood. It simply is not as easy as many envision it to be. Great advice.

    • DevonMamaOnline
      24th April 2017 / 10:58 am

      Thanks Lauren, I hope it helps people (in a funny way!)

  4. 24th April 2017 / 8:37 am

    With Max I knew I would never bother to get back into shape because I knew we’d have another shortly after. This time I’m panicking a bit I don’t want to be tubby mummy I want to be yummy mummy 🙂

    • DevonMamaOnline
      24th April 2017 / 10:56 am

      I kind of feel like that, a bit of ‘what’s the point if we want another’ but then I know it’s a bit of a slippery slope for me and I’d end up being five stone heavier at the end instead of a couple each time! It’s hard getting back into things though isn’t it?

  5. 24th April 2017 / 10:35 am

    Shhhh don’t tell anyone – but I have a pro sleeper. From newborn Piglet has slept incredibly well. Breastfeeding on the other hand was pretty much a disaster zone for the first 8 weeks but we got there in the end!

    • DevonMamaOnline
      24th April 2017 / 10:55 am

      Ahhh I’m so jealous!! I have a decent sleeper now but it took months of being up every other hour. I’m not joking, it was atleast 8 months. Then overnight it just clicked! Now he does 6pm – 7.30 with one wake up for a quick feed! x

  6. 24th April 2017 / 5:25 pm

    Yes to this post! I can relate to this. I had a baby with the FOMO. She would only sleep in the car with the engine running. We did a lot of mileage the first couple of years. She is 7 and still has the FOMO now! Argh. And breastfeeding, you have no idea how hard it is. So hard. Fantastic post 🙂

    • DevonMamaOnline
      24th April 2017 / 10:09 pm

      Oh goodness, we’re in the engine running mode at the moment for daytime naps… that or risk a two minute nap as the sole sleep time ALL DAY!!!! x

  7. 24th April 2017 / 8:36 pm

    Oh my goodness, how true it all is! I expected to sail through breastfeeding and failed miserably with my first born. Went on to have success with my two subsequent kids but I was not at all prepared first time round. And I’m laughing at the ‘bed-sharing – noooooo’! We thought the same and the reality was often five in the bed! Loved this post.

    • DevonMamaOnline
      24th April 2017 / 10:08 pm

      I blame television for making me think breastfeeding would be easy… or the midwives for making me feel like a failure for finding it hard!!! Five in the bed?! I’d have to get the NextToMe back out for me to cram my body in to, we’d never fit otherwise! Thanks for stopping by! x

  8. 24th April 2017 / 9:23 pm

    A great post, it’s all so true! Especially the parts about sleeping, a much more realistic account than everything that I read or saw before having babies!

    • DevonMamaOnline
      24th April 2017 / 10:03 pm

      Ahhh thank you! I feel like I should have read this before falling pregnant – although it may have put me off!

  9. 24th April 2017 / 9:40 pm

    I had lots of ideals and was very adamant about so many things before I had the boys, then the reality meant I had to seriously rethink. I can totally relate to the moses basket issue! We also used ours as a clothes horse, while the boys were in with us so to get some sleep. One of my boys is nearly 5 and he still sneaks in with us if he is unsure, unfortunately he is all arms and legs now! x

    • DevonMamaOnline
      24th April 2017 / 10:02 pm

      Reality is such a shocker isn’t it? They really should market the moses basket as a clothes horse, it’s a more realistic use for it!! Oh no about the bed sneaker, I can’t imagine it can get worse than a wriggly one year old but a five year old would be it!!

  10. 26th April 2017 / 11:53 am

    Hahaha this is 100% relatable!! It’s amazing just how different our expectations can be to the reality! I am the same with body image…it’s been 15 months here, should probably start doing something about it now lol! But isn’t it crazy just how much is never actually explained to parents, like you said about breast feeding, for something so natural it’s bloody difficult to get the hang of it!
    Great post 🙌🏻 Becky x

    • DevonMamaOnline
      26th April 2017 / 8:27 pm

      Every night I’m like… I really should do some fitness… but then the chocolate is just so yummy and the peace so shortlived!!

  11. 26th April 2017 / 12:58 pm

    100% this! I had so many expectations of what I would and would NEVER do…AAAALLLLLLL went out the window the second she arrived! The dummy she’d never have, yep that went in the second she hated the car!!! #HumpDayLinky

    • DevonMamaOnline
      26th April 2017 / 8:26 pm

      Hahahhahaa!!!! Dummy was the only thing we managed to stick to and even that was only because he refused it… we tried when he wouldn’t sit in the car without screaming!! x

  12. 27th April 2017 / 8:17 pm

    FOMO haha how true – I reckon all three of mine have had that when it comes to sleep!! I never thought I would bed share but have done with all 3 of mine and have big eye bags to prove it!

    • DevonMamaOnline
      27th April 2017 / 9:37 pm

      Every night I start with ‘but it’s so cute when he snuggles in’ and then twenty minutes later remember what a kick-y, space hog he is!

  13. 27th April 2017 / 10:13 pm

    Can def relate to this! I think both my girls must get FOMO as they always want to be awake! Thanks for linking up to #HumpDayLinky

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